Riding in the Rain


by Byron on Oct 02, 2006 at 11:39 AM

A reader wrote in to ask a well-timed question about riding in the rain.

Don’t laugh but what do cyclist do when it rains? I’m asking because I would love to get rid of my shitty car and get a bike but I’m worried about the rain here in the bay area.
– Joe, Manning Web and Graphic Design

/images/blog/ Good questions – the best of all possible worlds is full fenders, often with a mudflap (especially if you ride with others), and a rain cape/poncho. If full fenders won’t fit your bike, there are lots of options, including those easy-on fenders.

There’s a tremendous amount of rain gear out there – jackets, rainpants, booties to cover your shoes, gloves, helmet covers. See my post here on riding in the rain in Seattle. I ride hard in the ride, training, and a cape (especially not Gore) is too hot. Windtec (or similar products) are the best because you’re going to get soaked not matter what and what you want to do is stay warm, but not hot.

You still may be a little wet, but you can usually address this either by keeping a couple of towels at work or by finding shower facilities at or near work. When I use to commute, I found a little-used shower in my building, intended for use by operations personnel if there was a multi-day disaster. My commuting partner and I stashed soap, washcloths, and towels at work, used that shower, and found a utility room so we didn’t even have to lock the bikes outside. Also, if a shower isn’t available, use alcohol and cotton rounds - wipe down with alcohol and that should be enough to get you through the day.

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I am working this problem through.  I carry a large number of school book with me and have thus far put a trash bag or my backpack.  I use my waterproof pants and jacket from backpacking.  This don’t breath and I wouldn’t recommend them.  I just have no money and am using what I can.

Next step is Winter riding in Minneapolis.

A surpriseingly common question. And the right answer is: we ride :-)

The link to Windtex is broken. Try:


Thanks for the link check. I updated the post.

John, do you have like a recycled cycles in town? Where you can get used goods or a messenger shop. Wool knickers/pants (army surplus) is going to work best on a budget or no budget. It’ll get wet and heavy, but you’ll stay warm.  Check the used clothes stores for old merlino wool.

Anybody out there who are riders with glasses? My rainy day problem is the lack of windshield wipers on my specs.

Have you tried the prescription protective wear, like from Bolle?

I’ve had a pair before. I didn’t find it helped that much — although it’s close to one’s head, so if you’ve got a visor on your helmet, you get a little more protection than regular glasses. Still, in a giant downpour … I basically wait it out.

My solution to the problem of rain on glasses is to wear a cycling cap under my helmet, and use the brim to keep the upper portion of the lenses clear-ish. This isn’t the most effective solution, I’m sure, but I didn’t like some of the other tricks people have suggested to me over the years, such as smearing my lenses with stuff to keep the rain from accumulating. Most of the stuff thus smeared seems to blur my vision as much as not wearing my glasses or riding with them covered in water.


Thanks for the comment and hats are so obvious to me, I forgot to mention them! You’re absolutely right. Hats have mutliple purposes, including pulling the brim down for glare and to keep rain off your face and out of your eyes. Better winter caps, have brims. 

further to jussi saying “We ride”… the other quick answer is :
“We get wet.”

And really wet - in Seattle, you resolve to the wet and try to stay warm, but not hot, which is even worse.

Hi Ellen…

Another solution for people with glasses is a product designed for motorcycle riders called “Aerostich VeeWipe Squeegee”.

Here’s their wrap…

Roadspray is always filmy and dirty, so you’ll quickly become addicted to this faceshield squeegee. Worn on the thumb or index finger of your left hand and used intermittently when you need a brief clear look at something. VeeWipes make riding in the rain safer (and lots more fun). You’ll probably give some away to rainriding companions, so have several in your tank bag. Can be trimmed with a scissors for a custom fit. All season, three size pack fits all hand sizes and glove thicknesses. Stretchy and comfortable to wear. Contains one each: S, M, and L.


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best regards,


That’s a good tip — thanks.