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Silly Question? Bike commuting in the rain?(17 posts)

Silly Question? Bike commuting in the rain?NewRoadBiker
Aug 30, 2001 10:01 PM
What do all of you bike commuters do when it rains? I'm interested in doing the 12 mile round trip commute to where I work and am interesed in tips for rain you guys/girls wear a rain suit, etc or just park the bike and drive? Also, do you use a Pannier/rack set-up to carry all of your work related items and a change of clothes? I'm getting ready to convert an old mountain bike I have to a commuter bike so I can increase the number of miles I ride each day and would welcome any suggestions and comments! :o)

re: Silly Question? Bike commuting in the rain?Scy
Aug 30, 2001 10:14 PM
I've never commuted, but I have trained doing 20- to 60-mile rides in the pouring rain. Hopefully, some experienced commuters can give you better advice, but here goes:

Commuting in the rain seems like a bad idea.

First, there is the visibility problem--that of drivers seeing you.

Second, rain will wash the debris, including sharp stuff like glass, to the side of the road where you ride.

Third, water and grit will get everywhere causing wear, cosmetic, and maintenance problems--plan on repacking your hubs and headset more often.

Finally, unless you plan to ride slowly -- very slowly -- you will soak in your own juices if you wear a rain suit. Then again, if it's only 6 miles each way, the sweat issue may not be a factor.
re: Silly Question? Bike commuting in the rain?MJ
Aug 31, 2001 12:56 AM
I commute everyday - where I live (in London) it rains alot - rain shouldn't ever stop you, or anyone else, from doing things - if it did I, and people in wet countries, would never get in any miles - bikes and people don't break in the rain (we don't ride on china) - but a bike may need a bit more regular maintenance in wet conditions - nothing onerous - only relubing, brake pads etc. - an old mtb. sounds great for the trick - but I ride on my first team bike as commuting is where I get 3/4 of my miles in a week

rain suits would be too hot unless you're in a very cold place - if it is cold - get some socks that wick away the water (they're good even when it's dry for the same reason - but it's more pronounced when wet) - nothing like riding in a puddle in your shoes to make a ride cold and unpleasant - neoprene booties are also an option to keep in mind

I used panniers for couple of years to commute - now I'm lucky and leave all my clothing at work (where there's a shower) - panniers are great and are a great option to facilitate commuting (and touring) - Jannd/Ortlieb make great bag - riding with panniers is like jogging with leg weights - you'll be a better/stronger rider when you take them off and your bike will feel impossibly nimble

when I used panniers - I packed everything in separate plastic bags - good for packing organisatoin and good to keep stuff dry if the bag leaks etc. - all will generally leak except Ortlieb, which tends to be expensive - but great for a lifetime of use

after a while you get to like riding in the rain

be warned that whatever you wear when you ride inthe rain will get ruined - oil and road muck will cover you from head to toe - rain days are not the days to wear the white team jersey on the commute

come back if you have more queries
re: Silly Question? Bike commuting in the rain?Breezydz
Aug 31, 2001 4:36 AM
I commuted rain or shine for 6 years. I packed everything in plastic and found one pannier to be enough. During colder months I carried rain gear in the bottom of the pannier; it looked pretty disgusting and I used it for nothing else. In warmer weather I wore quick drying bike clothes. Some other suggestions:

Phil Wood Oil. It attracts dirt but holds on for at least one storm so you won't have to relube to ride home.

Clips and Straps make lunch time errands a little easier than pedals that require bike shoes.

Mr. Tuffy or some other tire liner. Flats on the way to work suck and as previously noted are liklier in the rain.

Keep rags at work to wipe off your bike on rainy days.
really easyclimbo
Aug 31, 2001 4:42 AM
I wouldn't worry about "hazards" or whatever might be out there, you just deal with it when it happens. I have about 10 flats all year commuting daily so far for about 4 years. I've only had 2 small incidents with vehicles, neither where I was hurt bad enough that I couldn't pick myself up and ride home.

For gear, I have a locker at work and I carry a messenger bag with anything else I might need for the day. I use this because it's comfortable and I don't have to carry that much stuff, plus, I can extend my rides to good long training days on the way to to work, like this morning, a nice 40 miles and got to work at 8.

I usually bring in bulk clothing once a week and store it in my locker. Have fun.
No one uses fenders anymore?MB1
Aug 31, 2001 4:51 AM
Traffic here in DC is so bad that bike commuting is the only sensible way to get to work. It is unbelievably bad on rainy days.

Fenders, a rain jacket (keep an extra at work for unexpected weather), helmet visor and booties. I cut the sleeves short on an old jacket for warm rain days. Heavy duty tires a really good idea since you don't want to have a flat commuting much less on a rainy commute.

Should I mention studded snow tires for those snowy and or icy winter commutes?
Studded tires?Alex-in-Evanston
Aug 31, 2001 6:01 AM
Aren't those things off-road only? I've been under the impression that you'd a) crash or b) ruin the studs, if you were to so much as let them touch pavement.

Just curious.


BTW - do you make your own?
Nokian makes them.MB1
Aug 31, 2001 6:05 AM
The rolling resistance on dry clean pavement is amazing. Traction is outstanding-wet,dry or icy. Great on snow or ice. The studs are extermely tough, the things should last for years.
I've been thinking about a pair for hard packed snow.Alex-in-Evanston
Aug 31, 2001 6:21 AM
The local rail trail is just about the only safe place to ride in darkest winter, but it doesn't get plowed. I was thinking studs but was under the impression that I'd have to drive the bike two miles to the trail, perish the thought.

They will work fine.MB1
Aug 31, 2001 6:24 AM
For more information try the IceBiker web site. We bought the tires over the net from Peter White Cycles.
Not Silly At All...Greg Taylor
Aug 31, 2001 5:13 AM
It's fun...

Rain Suit -- Naah. In warm weather, don't bother. In colder (anything below about 40 degrees) weather, I use a lined Gore-tex rain jacket (Orange, with a hood), and Pearl Izumi "Amphib" tights. Rain booties are ok -- I have a set of neoprene ones that work well. Goretex socks are ok too... Wool socks, in case your tootsies get wet. Neoprene gloves from Performance complete the cold weather kit.

Bike: full fenders are a must. I like the Planet Bike "Freddy Fenders" that attach (and detach) using bayonet fittings. If you will be riding a lot in the rain and don't like to stay on top of maintainance, rain bike = beater bike. Otherwise, expect to repack hubs and headset, replace chains/chainrings/cables/brakepads much more often. Lube chains after every wet ride. Lube on the derailleur pivots, brake caliper pivots, etc., won't go wrong either.

Bags: for a 12 mile trip, forget panniers. Ortlieb makes a dandy messenger bag. I can fit a shirt, pants, sock, and other assorted impedimentia in mine, and it stays dry even in a frickin' monsoon.

Lights: Yup, you'll need'em. Front and back. Assume that drivers can't see you, and ride accordingly.
re: Silly Question? Bike commuting in the rain?Shalen
Aug 31, 2001 6:27 AM
I commute to work on my road bike everyday. I live in Arizona, so it never really rains. I pack my work clothes into a backpack and shower at work (I'm lucky enough that my work has a lockroom). I would suggest thorn-resistent tires, it adds a decent amount of weight but I will go months without any problems.

Hope this helps

My rain commutes were more like 3 miles each way, but ...Humma Hah
Aug 31, 2001 6:36 AM
... just expect more of the same.

I didn't wear any rain gear, although some today might be OK. The problem is, you sweat under most waterproof gear, and get just as wet, but its sweat, not nice clean rain.

I used a backpack.

With no fenders, you'll get a streak of mud up your back. I'd put fenders on a commuter. You want no excuses on that sort of bike. It should also have lights (detachable is OK), for the same reason.

In rain, expect more f###s, especially in gutters or puddles. Your front wheel stirs up glass chips that ordinarily lie f###, and the rear catches them. That was the exact reason why I switched to thorn-resistant tubes, which did largely fix the problem (at least until recently -- see F word post below). Whatever measures you can take to reduce these may help prevent you from being late to work.

I avoid riding in thunderstorms, ice, maybe heavy fog, and temperatures below about 20 F or above 100 F. Everything else is OK. I would be inclined to drive on days where all-day heavy rain, esp with thunderstorms, was forecast, but would not let a "possibility" of rain stop me.
You get wet!mr_spin
Aug 31, 2001 7:04 AM
I don't ride if it is actively raining. But if it is just a sprinkle, or just wet and misty, I'll ride. I only have a 2.75 mile commute, so it's not a big deal. Commuting in rainy season is a gamble sometimes, but then again, on any given day it could be a bright and sunny in the morning and still rain in the afternoon. Sometimes you just get wet.

Excellent idea to convert a mountain bike for commuting. That's what I did. I have good fenders on my bike (Freddy Fenders) that catch the worst of the spray, but my pants cuffs usually get soaked and sometimes a little muddy. I wear jeans to work, so they take it pretty well.
Good website: And an idea...cory
Aug 31, 2001 8:05 AM
Sorry if this is a duplicate post--some of my stuff has been disappearing since the changeover... knows EVERYTHING about winter riding--way too heavy-duty for me, but worthwhile if you live where it gets cold.
For ordinary rainy-day, mild temperature stuff, though, I got a good idea from Grant Petersen at Rivendell: Fenders are a must, then you wear a poncho to keep the rain off. Mine came from Riv, and it's a dull, gonna-get-me-killed green waxed cotton, but you can get bright plastic or nylon ones in outdoor stores. The fenders stop the splash, the poncho stops the rain, and air can circulate under it so you don't get sweaty. You can add thumb loops if you want to hold it to the bars.
In fresh snow, ordinary tires, even smooth road tires, work pretty well. The thing that kills you is ice, either frozen runoff or packed snow that refreezes. Nothing helps but studs, and they're too uncomfortable to ride on pavement. That's when it's time to get out the trainer...
re: Silly Question? Bike commuting in the rain?mackgoo
Aug 31, 2001 8:23 AM
I park it. I wear a back pack for clothes and lunch etc.
My commute bike is different from my roadster...PdxMark
Aug 31, 2001 8:50 AM
Commuter is a hard tail MTB with kevlar belted "slicks" to avoid flats... only one in 4 years (rode through the same shattered bottle field for a week or 2... I was tempting fate)

Tights are great for wet cool days - you'll get wet, but not over heated... a great temperature balance. Since I ride in cycling shorts, I just get wet on warm wet days...

I copmmute with platform pedals and use "duck boots" for wet days. Duck boots are the ones from LL Bean etc. with a rubber footbox and short leather upper. Feet are always warm & dry (it's a priority for me)

I haul all my rain gear to and from home each day in rain season, so I use a backpack for that, my day clothes, and anything else

Get the brightest front and rear lights you can afford, and put reflective tape on the frame, helemt, etc., wheel reflectors in the spokes, and flourescent reflective triangle or equivalent on your pack... be VISIBLE