There’s a relatively new kid on the rainy season block, the cycling rain cape. And no, these aren’t the dorky rain ponchos you buy in a clear pack for $12 when is starts raining at the baseball game, these are rain barriers specifically designed for riding any kind of bike.
And they work.
Sure, rain capes may look a little funny at first, but these light weight pieces are surprisingly effective and comfortable.
Why Use a Rain Cape
The key difference between cycling rain cape and a traditional rain poncho is that the body of a rain cape extends over your handlebars to create a solid tent to keep you dry.
The vast majority of rain cape users agree that rain pants are a drag. They’re awkward to put on (you probably need to take off your bike shoes) and even more awkward to remove. They are bulky and unattractive. Depending on what’s worn under them, rain pants can be rather uncomfortable.
With rain capes, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing underneath, or what your body type is. Fit becomes less of an issue.
With one piece of clothing, you can get coverage for your head, top and bottom.
Rain capes allow for better air flow, so on days when it’s wet but not cold, they’re a great way to go.
Rain capes provide a tent of coverage from above to protect your legs, and fenders do the job from below.
Rain capes are easy to take on and off and they dry off fairly quickly.
How dapper you look depends on how much you want to spend, in most cases. There are a few independent fabricators making cute rain capes for under $100 that are marketed as being designed for cycling and hiking, but we can’t verify the quality of these items. Most capes range from $175-250.
Standard yellow-rain-jacket-type capes exist and are a smart choice for safety reasons, what with their bright colors and all, and they’re often the least expensive, like these from J&G Cyclewear. But better-looking options are certainly out there.
Brooks, well known for their style, offers a rain cape with leather detailing. Unless you opt for the upgraded Oxford Rollup (vs the Cambridge stowable) we don’t think it’s worth the cost because aside from the leather detailing, the cape is nothing special.
The Center for Appropriate Transport in Eugene, a hub of clever cycling, fabricates their own waxed canvas cape. It’s a nice alternative to synthetic fabrics, but it’s also much heavier. They offer optional hoods, bump outs for messenger bags, and fleece lined collars.
Cleverhood has really set the bar high, with nicely tailored capes in interesting fabrics. Billed as a “US-made rain cape for livable cities,” these capes are known for their excellent quality.
Take Into Consideration
A cape without a rear cinch will fly up in the wind. You may or may not care about this. If you do, opt for a cape that has features to prevent this.
Depending on the cape design, often it will obscure your lights, particularly on the handlebars. You’ll need to make adjustments for this, such as mounting your light to your helmet instead.
The cost isn’t all aesthetics. Many expensive caps offer handy features you’ll wish you had and reflectivity built into the classy-looking fabric. Do your research before you decide what you want to spend.
Do You Cape?
Are you a cape wearer? What do you love about it? Share your comments below.
Mark your calendars!
WORST DAY OF THE YEAR RIDE | February 12 – Portland
When wintertime comes around, bikers all over the Portland region are overcome by a giddy excitement and a somewhat clinical madness.
Doctors scratch their heads at this wild desire to don a costume, hop on a bike rain or shine and consume truckloads of doughnuts. The epidemic, which is headed our way this February, is known as Worst Day of the Year Ride Fever. Symptoms include euphoria, an insatiable desire to talk with strangers, a craving for beer and the strength to pedal for miles, even in the rain.
This beloved event is a Portland tradition 16 years in the making. New this year, the event includes an indulgent chocolate fountain at the finish line.
MORE INFO >
This winter, we’re on a mission to make your rainy cold riding more comfy. That’s why we love this overview that our friends at ECHOS Communications put together. It’s a handy guide to all the items you need to be safe, warm and dry on your bike, including a few of the local brands we love like Showers Pass and North St. Bags.
For Your Bike
A. State Bicycle Elliston City Bike – Ride in style, come rain or shine. The Elliston features a time-less flat black finish with chrome accents, a slick leather saddle, mustache-bars and larger tires for a cushier ride. Whether you’re going for a joy-ride around town or racing to work, get ready to own the streets with these polished set of wheels.
B. LOW MKII CX – he hustler at its core, the mkii features disk brakes for quicker stops, and fully internal shifter and brake cables for reliable performance and a clean, streamlined look. It’s sleek beauty is composed by a blend of proprietary and beautifully hand-shaped butted aluminum tubing and precision handling & strength with quality workmanship and smooth welds.
B:Showers Pass Refuge Pant – Outlast the nastiest weather with these reflective rain pants. Made with their highest performing Elite waterproof fabric that lets you breath while staying dry.
C: Showers Pass Hi Viz Elite – Why stop at pants? Here’s your one-stop, all-purpose Hi-Viz jacket this winter. Designed for maximum outdoor use, featuring Elite 3-layer, fully-seamed performance fabric and extra-long core vents to prevent overheating.
D: DZR H2O Shoe – Never deal with another rain-soaked commute or trail ride again with these first-ever fully seam sealed waterproof SPD compatible Sneakers. Wrapped with DWR treated supple sheepskin leather and a stiffer rubber traction outsole for excellent power transfer and grip. The H20 guarantees that you arrive at your destination with dry and happy feet.
E. Speedvagen Ichico Pit Boot – New for the 2015 CX season, Army Green pit boots with the SV shield. The boots are US made and insulated for cozy feet while standing in the mud at the races.
A: North St. Morrison Backpack Pannier – The perfect companion for light day trips, the work commute or cafe with friends. Easily go from road to shoulders with the simple mount and hook bike attachment. Features include a waterproof liner, reflective accents and zippered front. Made with military-grade nylon shell, this backpack provides quick access while keeping elements at bay.
B: Showers Pass Cloudcover Transit Bag – Embrace the elements with this fully waterproof, lightweight and self-supporting bag, featuring highly reflective integrated LED lights for exceptional visibility. Made with strong welds and aluminum hardware to withstand even the most foul weather.
Lights and Fenders
A: Blackburn Central Fenders – Simple, clean design to keep both you and your friends dry. With 4 popular sizes to choose from, easily install on a wide variety of bike sin no time.
B: Blackburn Design Click Front / Rear USB Light – Free yourself from the hassle of batteries! This small but essential accessory makes you visible to traffic. Bright side beams throw off additional light, and the silicone mount fits almost any handlebar. A Micro-USB cable makes it easy—just charge, click and go!
C: Blackburn Central Front Smart Light – Focus on the road, let these lights do the rest. Ride through dark to bitch black with this auto adjusting focused beam.
D. Blackburn Design – Barrier Mud Guard – Stay shielded from grime, dirt, and crud with the ultra portable and top performing front mudflap. The Barrier Mud Guard by Blackburn Design features a sleek minimalist design that is lightweight, portable, and offers total coverage. It mounts with ease with reusable hook and loop straps and is exactly the protection you need when the trail gets sloppy.
A: Blackburn Switch Multi-tool – Travel in confidence with this handy compact kit and high functional kit. Includes T25 and T30 torx bits, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm allen bits and a flathead screwdriver. Individual T or L handle tools let you access tight places and give you more leverage on bolts and screws.
C: Feedback Sports Ride Prep Tool Kit – Fine tune your bike before or after a ride with this set of essentials. Perfectly sized to keep on the bench or in the car.
B: SILCA T-handle Folio – The Sliding T-Handles combine fully forged single piece main bodies (not welded!) with sliding, oversized cross members featuring end stops AND a center detent to lock the handle in the T position (something lacking on most sliding T’s). The kit bag is made from 12 oz. Waxed Duck Canvas, computer quilted with premium reflective thread.
A. Urban Armor Gear Monarch Series Phone Case – Premium design and precise engineering to provide a case that meets double the
B. Paul Components Stem Cap Light Mount – The Stem Cap Light Mount lets you mount a light, phone, or handlebar accessory right above the center of your stem. (Actual anodizing colors may vary).
C. North St. Bags Pioneer 9 & 12 – Pioneer Packs, Hip Packs, Waist Pouches, Lumbar Bags, or even Fanny Packs. Whatever you call them, it’s handy to have your quick access gear at your side when you need it. Working equally well as a Phone case, Camera bag, Dopp Kit, Travel Cube, Bike Handlebar Bag, or a Saddlebag, our Hip Packs are ready for whatever great adventure you have planned.
Sports scientists at Rutgers University report that sipping on black tea helps speed recovery between intense workouts and reduces soreness. Decaffeinated tea can steep overnight in the fridge and be placed in one of your water bottles for easy consumption. So long as it is decaf, you can drink it in place of of in conjunction with water before, during and after the ride.
Salmon and Tuna
Omega-3s have endless health benefits for everyone, and even more so for cyclists. They increase blood flow and may help wash out inflammatory cells in damaged muscles that cause pain and swelling. Two excellent sources are salmon and tuna.
Tumeric is another way to increase blood flow and reduce inflamation, two steps in the road to painless recovery and healthy muscles. This powdery yellow spice has a mild flavor that can be easily added to chilis, soups and marinades.
It’s cherry season in Oregon, but cyclists will want to reach for a jar of juice for extra added health benefits. Tart cherry juice helps repair micro tears in muscles. Don’t skip the Rainiers and Bings, though. While they might not do much for your muscles they’re a seasonal treat you don’t want to miss.
While gels and bars are quick foods to fuel your ride, it’s easy for cyclists to get in a rut. Your body craves real food. Keep your plate full of color with at least half the plate filled with vegetables and smaller portions of whole grains and lean meats or tofu.
It’s all about perception.
Ode to the rainy days! When we’re all geared up with our comfy outer gear shell and our brain on fire from the blood surging through our system, we can conquer anything.
Winter riding is awesome.
To think otherwise is to drive yourself into the dark corners of your brain, and that’s not a pleasant place to hang out.
Get your bike tuned up, keep your gear accessible, and make choosing to ride an easy choice. Once you’re out there, you’ll be glad you are. With the right gear to keep you warm and dry, your ride can be rather pleasant, if not exhilarating.
But still, as a reward for being a crappy weather badass, you still deserve to treat yourself. Fill the mug with a hot toddy, sip hot cocoa, eat an extra cookie and put on some cozy socks – you earned it.
Here’s to a fantastic winter for all! Share your winter riding tales with us. We’re here to support you every mile and raindrop of the way. Follow us on Instagram for even more inspiration.