Rainy Days and Wednesdays


Rolling past the Polish Moon in Walkers Point

There are lots of pretty good options to keep you dry while biking in the rain. But when it is humid enough and hot enough to make you sweat standing still, keeping dry is all about maintaining air flow. I have a couple different sets of traditional rain gear. Gore-Tex or eVent and pit zips are the standard by which all other rain gear is measured. I have both and the stuff works pretty well until summer hits, then I can never tell if I would be just as wet and cooler if I opted to skip the rain gear.

The Brooks Oxford cape rolls up and stays on the bike according to the description. But at $260 I had to pass on it.

My search for bigger and bigger vents combined with my eye to Europe led me to rain capes, or ponchos. There are some classy options like the Brooks Oxford Rain Cape, but at $260, I had to pass.

The other stylish option also comes from England. Carridice makes two capes, one in classic black and the other in safety yellow. I have some Carridice bags, and their products are very well made. Carridice stuff has that classic style without trying look. Peter White sells both and they are a bit less dear than the Brooks.

The Carridice Pro-route cape seems a good deal at $65.

The Carridice Duxback cape has classic looks and costs $144.

  Before I went out and dropped a pile of cash on a cape, I wanted to try one.  Enter the Monkey King Rain Cape: $10 plus shipping on eBay. 

The $10 PVC Monkey King hangs over the handle bars and is held in place by a little clamp.

On my maiden ride from work to my pal Richard Beauchamp’s studio it poured buckets so I got a good test run.  The poncho worked pretty well.  The biggest advantage was I felt a lot cooler than I ever do in my Gore-Tex rain suit.  The second advantage is that you only need the cape, not rain pants and shoe covers.  The poncho keeps your entire lower body dry as long as you have full fenders.  From that perspective, a $144 rain cape is a lot cheaper than a $150 Gore-Tex jacket and another $150 for the rain pants.

The only quibbles I have with the design is the back could be a little longer and the hood could have a brim.  Capes have one other downside in that you can still get spashed from cars that hit puddles as they drive by.  Overall though I was pretty happy with it and stayed very dry.  My pants and shoes were dry and I remained cool (cool as a 48-year-old pollock on a bike in a bright blue plastic rain poncho can be anyway).

You can see this goes over the bars to keep your legs dry. It could use a longer tail flap and a visor to bettter cover my leading and trailing edges.

About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Bike clothing, commuting and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Rainy Days and Wednesdays

  1. Chris says:

    I’ve been wearing the complete Carradice Pro-route set (cape, spats and helmet cover) and it’s very effective. The added benefit (or draw back) is that I feel like I’m letting my freak flag fly when I’m completely suited up in its bright, retina scorching, yellow.

    J&G Cyclewear also makes rain gear and their cape is $46. I find that the Carradice cape is best suited to an upright riding position and that the J&G Cyclewear cape is best suited to a crouched riding position. It must have to do with the amount of material in the front. Also, the J&G helmet cover has a strap in the back for clipping a light to.

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Send me a photo in your full Carridice get-up and I will post it Chris! I have not seen you in Milwaukee (and I think I would have), so I assume you live elsewhere. Thanks for the notes about the other rain capes.

      • Chris says:

        I do live in Milwaukee Dave, maybe we’re just riding in different neighborhoods. I wear the rain gear on my commute, 90% of which is on the Oak Leaf Trail between Locust and the Third Ward. It’s a pretty small geographic area.

        I’m enjoying the blog.

  2. Tim says:

    We don’t have that problem here in Seattle. It never gets too hot or humid, though I sure wish it would sometimes. BTW, what camera was used to take the photos?

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Hey Tim! Actually that was an underwater camera my buddy Richard has. It was pouring out. But I am willing to sell my Lumix LX3 if you still want it. I have been shooting with a borrowed DSLR lately and really like it. I still love the LX3, and if I had the scratch to buy a DSLR too, I would not think of selling the Lumix. But this is a recession, so I should probably avoid going into debt, right? Call me if you want to talk about the Lumix deal. Or you can use it when you come back to Milwaukee first as we discussed.

  3. Tim says:

    Wow, nice quality for an underwater camera. Yes, I think I’m interested in it. I’ll call you this weekend, maybe. I’ll be back to visit the weekend of July 23.

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