Riding your bicycle does not have to be dependent on the weather. You can ride through anything with the right preparation. I have already discussed riding through the winter and summer so go ahead and check those out here and here. I now want to discuss riding through the rain. This is not the say all be all, but these methods have worked for me. I always ride despite the conditions and I always appear presentable at work in a shirt and tie. You can too.
Riding through the rain does not take much preparation at all. In fact, it simply requires an extra layer. Keep in mind that this method has been designed to be budget friendly.
Determine what you want to wear
Rain can occur any point during the year, which means the temperature varies. Your base layer is going to be an important choice. Personally, I never wear my work clothes or going-out-clothes while commuting. It’s too constricting. I will wear this or a variation of this as my base layer during the winter or fall. I will wear this during the spring and summer. The rain does not change the way I pack my clothes, which is also described in the summer link above.
2. Ensure that your person remains dry. Remember, this is not a fashion show!
My personal method of remaining dry is to wear a full on rain suit. It works perfectly. I have ridden through torrential downpours and have always remained dry. I currently wear a Marmot rain jacket and Result rain pants. Both are pictured on the left and right. These items have served a dual purpose as they have kept me dry and have kept my wallet full. The jacket was purchased at TJ MAXX for under $50 and the pants were less than $10 on Amazon (check them out here). Although this outfit may look goofy, it has been incredibly functional and fully waterproof.
Hands and Feet Are Key
The two areas that are not covered by the jacket and pants are your hands and feet. It will be crucial to ensure that these areas are taken care of to ensure you can operate your bicycle. I have an old pair of canvas vans that I have designated as rain shoes. I will wear these in the spring and summer with no socks. In the fall and winter I ride with wool socks. You can also rap plastic shopping bags around your feet, on top of the socks, to ensure warm and dry conditions inside your shoe. The Vans are great because they can be compacted and put in a plastic bag when you arrive at your destination. They can also be machine washed if they become too smelly.
If it is the spring or summer I will ride bare hands. However, this is not possible in the winter so you will need to get a pair of cycling gloves. You will want these gloves to keep your hands warm and dry through the winter. A highly reviewed and reasonably priced glove the Borealis by Planet Bike. If this is not your style, there are hundreds more. Just make sure they operate in below freezing temperatures.
Essential Accessories for the Rain
One of the most important items you will need is a waterproof bag. There are a variety of styles that fit different people. I have used both panniers with a rear rack as well as an over-the-shoulder messenger bag. I will use the panniers if I have a large load, but I typically use the messenger bag for my daily commute. I use the Chrome Mini Metro messenger bag. This bag is fantastic! It’s comfortable and durable. It has kept all of my belongings (including my laptop) dry in some of the worst rain.
My panniers are Ortlieb Back Roller Classic, which have been equally as great. They have a large capacity, are waterproof, and have a 5 year warranty. I highly recommend both of these products.
You will also need to equip your bike with a front and rear light. They don’t need to be fancy, just bright. I use these Knog Beetle’s and they are great. You can search through Amazon for any that may tickle your fancy though.
Many people recommend fenders, but if you are wearing the rain suite, as mentioned above, these will not be required. However, they definitely can be useful and quite effective. Personally, I do not enjoy them strictly for aesthetic reasons.
Make sure you carry these toiletries.
You will want to carry these essentials to utilize once you arrive at your destination. A stick of deodorant/antiperspirant, comb, hair product, small towel, dry pair of socks, and baby powder (for use in your shoes and on your feet). If you really want to get crazy you can grab some rubbing alcohol to dab on your extra sweaty areas to eliminate any stench. The use of these products is self-explanatory. If used properly, you will walk out of the bathroom looking fresh for work. No shower required!
There it is. Now you can ride through the rain and still look great at a reasonable price. I hope this article has eliminated another excuse for you. So go out, get wet, and ride.
-Bike and Brain