I’m a big fan of commuting to work by bike.
Where I live the cars tend to crawl along at walking speed (on a good day) and it feels awesome to whizz past them on my bike. When it rains though the thought of cycling into the office is a lot less appealing and I find myself staring longingly at the folks in the warm, dry cars. The situation is even worse when I have to cycle into work in my office clothes. Squelching around the office in a soaking jacket and soggy shoes is just not the look I’m going for. Do you know what I mean?
So, as we’re heading into the rainy season I decided to check out the best methods of cycling into work in the rain and staying dry. I’ve found some excellent solutions which I’ll talk about below. I’ve also got answers to some of the most common bike-commuting-in-rain questions. As the dark and stormy clouds start to mass in the East…let’s take a look.
Quick Answer: XUHAN High Visibility Waterproof Rain Jacket with pants
Leaving bike in rain
Bikes and rain are sadly not the best of bedfellows. Leave your bike outside in the rain for the day and you likely won’t see much damage. However, if you’re leaving your bike outside in the rain all the time then it won’t be long before you start seeing some major problems.
Damage that you might see can include rusted components, such as the chain. You will also probably see that rust cause bolts to seize up, which can give problems when you need to undo them – for example, if you need to take the wheel off to repair a puncture.
So, what can you do?
Riding bike in rain maintenance
There are a number of easy ways to keep your bike in tip-top condition if you’re riding it in the rain.
First up, make sure you apply a preventative layer of lube to all the working components before you head out, when you get back in, and any time when you’ve washed or cleaned your bike. This will help stop water ingress to those moving bits. Get yourself a can of this and get into the habit of using it regularly.
Next, when you’ve been out for a cycle in the rain, try and dry out your bike as much as possible. It’s good if you can keep an old towel (don’t use your finest fluffy bath towels for this) and gently wipe the water off, paying particular attention to the parts of the bike that move, such as the chain and crank. When you’re done, remember the 3-In-One.
If you can, keep your bike inside after a wet ride so that it can properly air-dry off. If that’s not an option, then try out a waterproof storage cover like this one which can stop your bike from getting wetter and allow it to drip dry.
Cycling rain goggles
There are as many schools of thought about wearing cycling glasses in the rain as there are styles of bike glasses available. You can buy specialist hydrophobic cycling glasses (which stop water from sticking to the lenses). You can also get the same effect by applying a hydrophobic spray for glasses or a water repellent spray for glasses, using this on your existing bike glasses.
If you’re looking for comedy value, then there’s always the option to go for rain glasses with wipers, like these. Hmm…
My own personal opinion is that, when it’s raining, you’re better off going without glasses. Why? Well, those built-in windscreen wipers that we’ve got on our eyes (our eyelids!) do a much better job of keeping your vision clear than fancy hydrophobic pieces of kit or ridiculous wind-up gadgets. I’ve tried cycling in a wide range of glasses and find that I’m forever stopping to dig out a dry piece of cloth to wipe my lenses – and five seconds later they’re covered over again. Without glasses – just blink and you can see. As the song goes, “I can see clearly now the rain has gone…”
Bicycle rain gear commuter
Okay, I’ve found three options for you to stay dry whilst cycling to work in the rain. These are graded according to the heaviness of the downpour you’re experiencing, in terms of:
- Might rain / might not rain to Light Rain
- Medium to Heavy Rain
- Monsoon conditions
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail now.
1. Might rain / might not rain to Light Rain
But let’s imagine a day when you’re going to cycle to work. In the morning the weather is fine and dry but the weather forecaster says that there’s a 36.5% chance of rain for the end-of-the-day rush hour. You don’t want to wear full-on wet weather gear when, in all likelihood, it probably won’t rain.
On the flip side, if that 36.5% chance actually comes to pass, and the raindrops start falling…then you’ll be pleased that you packed a rain poncho like this.
The capes are great for conditions like this because they pack up small and light, and are super-easy to stash when you’re not using them. They’re also great if the rain where you are has a tendency to come straight down (rather than blow sideways) as the rain will drop onto the cape, drip down the length of it, and then down onto the road. Team this up with bike fenders / mudguards like these and you’ll stay nice and dry.
2. Medium to Heavy Rain
As the rain gets heavier then you need to move to a more heavy-duty set of bike clothes. This waterproof jacket and pants from Xuhan does a great job at keeping the wet weather on the outside. Team it up with a pair of waterproof overshoes (like these) and a waterproof cycling helmet cover (like this) and you’ll stay dry in some of the worst conditions.
A quick pro tip is to make sure you put the overshoes on underneath the waterproof pants. Why? Well, that means that the rain will drip down the legs and off the overshoes. The other way around and you’d find that the water would drip down the pants legs and collect inside the overshoes. Yuck.
One feature that I particularly like on the waterproof suit is the hi-vis yellow color. If it’s raining I find that drivers seem to huddle up in their cars and pay less attention to other road users. A bright outfit like this ensures that they won’t be able to miss you.
3. Monsoon conditions
When the weather throws it’s wettest at you, then you need to break out the big guns.
The only option in the heaviest of rain is to wear non-work clothes / standard cycling gear and pack your office clothing away in a waterproof bag like this.
This is the kind of rain that will work its way through to your clothes no matter what sort of protection you have. So the answer is just to go for a completely different option – get absolutely soaking on the way into work (making sure you splash through all the biggest puddles) then pop into the office bathroom and (kinda like Clark Kent) strip off your soggy gear and transform into your pristine work clothes ready for a day of superhuman effort in your cubicle.
Team this waterproof pannier bag up with a rack like this one and make sure you roll your clothes up rather than folding them to keep the creases out – check out the video below for more info on this.
How to roll your clothes for easy travel without creasing:
Biking in the rain to work – Dutch style!
If you’re still having doubts over whether cycling to work in the rain is right for you, then check out this video from the Netherlands showing cyclists out riding in all sorts of rainy weather and wearing all sorts of protective gear. My favorite is the rather lovely red spotty child’s umbrella – cute!
Cycling in the rain to work
Don’t be put off cycle-commuting just because of the rain! If you’ve got the right kit for the weather then you can still go out to work on your bike and arrive ready for action. I hope that one of these solutions is right for the weather conditions that you experience in your area and I hope it means that you can continue to enjoy cruising past those car drivers stuck doing walking speed on their way into the office.
When the puddles start to get bigger then you need to move on to heavier duty bicycle kit. This jacket and pants set from manufacturer, Xuhan, will do a great job at keeping the water to the outside. Team it waterproof overshoes and waterproof bike helmet cover and you can keep dry in some of the most awful weather.
Pro Tip – make sure you put overshoes on before the waterproof pants. That means that the rainwater will drip down the pants’ legs and off the top of the overshoes. The alternative way around means that the rain drips down the legs and gathers inside the overshoes. Not nice at all.
A feature that I really appreciate on this waterproof suit is the high-visibility yellow color. When it’s raining I often find drivers seem to huddle up into their cars and give much less attention to other folks on the road. A bright yellow jacket and pants set like this means that they won’t be able to miss seeing you.
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