With bicycling splashing onto the scene as a beneficial and energy-saving mode of transportation, more folks than ever giving up four wheels for two. While that may seem easy to do, it does have it’s challenges—like rain and other wet weather. Manufacturers have been coming up with sleeker, slimmer and more comfortable bike rain gear of late, ensuring safety, comfort and an ideal way to stay dry in any bicycling climate.
Bicycle rain gear’s main purpose is to keep the cyclist dry, but it should also play a few other roles. Since rain impedes visibility, the gear should be a bright color to be easily spotted by motorists and others on the rainy street. The gear should be roomy enough to move, but not bulky, so it can retain the sleek lines needed for effective bicycling. Although cyclists want to remain dry, they don’t want to overheat or become drenched in sweat while fending off precipitation. The best gear will be waterproof but also wick away moisture from the inside, allowing the body to breathe.
Jackets are the main protection against the rain every biker needs. They come in a variety of colors, with a lot of yellows, reds and other bold hues to make the biker visible in the mist. Other rain gear includes pants, gloves and vests. Gear can feature an outer shell of nylon, breathable polyester or Gore-Tex, a waterproof insulating material that is soft, supple and molds to the body while still allowing skin to breathe. Some of the gear may be lined with fleece for added warmth on those cold, soggy mornings. Other gear may be converted, such as a jacket into a vest by zipping off the sleeves. This way a foggy morning can be faced as easily and comfortably as the sunny afternoon that comes next.
Quality bike rain gear of any type should include certain features that benefit the bicyclist. Zippered pockets are a must to keep carried items dry, as is a mesh panel or some other type of breathable material beneath the waterproof shell. Some rain gear will actually come with a small pouch into which it can be folded up and easily stowed or carried when not in use, a major plus for cyclists to keep clean, sleek lines. Other helpful features include back zippered pockets or a zippered opening to reach into the back jersey pockets; elastic cuffs; a longer back tail to avoid being splattered by rain off the back wheel; arm pit vents and articulated elbows, with the jacket sleeve bent in the same manner the arm would be bent while biking.
Bike rain gear is not limited to clothing items. Protective outer shells are available for water bottle packs, bike racks, iPods and whatever else the cyclist may be riding with. Bicyclists with kids can also invest in weather shield covers for strollers. Little booties—for adults—are another piece of rain gear. These are water-resistant shoe covers that fit closely over the cyclist’s shoes. Feet stay warm and dry while the shoe is also protected from the elements.
Gear that is waterproof differs from that is water resistant. Waterproof gear will be made of waterproof fabric, such as nylon or Gore-Tex, and include seams that are sealed off so no moisture sneaks in at them. Front zippers or snaps will often include a protective flap or other covering for the same purpose. Water-resistant gear can be made of a number of different materials that are usually sprayed with some type of coating specifically designed to repel water. Waterproof gear is going to cost more, due to the extra attention paid to sealing off the seams and other areas into which rain likes to sneak.