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.
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.
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.
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).