The Good Cyclist's Guide To Bad-Weather Riding
Bikes Etc|February 2017

When the skies turn dark and unleash their worst, here’s how to keep on riding – as safely and comfortably as possible…

Nick Soldinger

RIDING IN THE RAIN

Riding in heavy rain is something that’salmost inevitable if you’re a cyclistin this country. But by preparing properly you can make sure that you reduce the impact of wet weather on your cycling enjoyment. Preparation is the key. Although it’s nigh-on impossible to stay completely dry when you’re riding in the rain, there are a few essential bits of kit you can use that will go a long way to ensuring you don’t end up soggy and soaked-through.

We’ll start with your head because a good cycling cap is perhaps the most underrated (and relatively inexpensive) item when it comes to combatting wet and cold weather. Worn under your helmet, not only will it keep water out of your eyes, it will also provide insulation for your head, keeping rain water out and your head heated. Assos’s RainCap S7 (£34.99, wiggle.co.uk) is a superb option, as is Gore’s Bike Wear 30th Equipe Gore-Tex Cap (£35.99, goreappel.co.uk) although we admit it’s not got the snappiest name.

Common sense would suggest that getting a waterproof jacket for wet-weather riding would also be a good idea. But as with all your clothing at this time of year, there’s a balance to be struck between keeping the rain off and letting the sweat out. In other words, opting for a softshell jacket is often your best bet. Yes, they’re more often water-resistant than waterproof, but they’re a lot more breathable and you only have to look at what the pros ride when the weather gets wet to see that they’re a great solution. Something like Gore’s Oxygen Softshell (£175, goreapparel. co.uk) – with its ‘Windstopper’ tech featuring a dual membrane that keeps the worst of the weather out while allowing moisture to leave – is a great example. A recent BikesEtc test also found dhb’s new Aeron Full-Protection softshell (£100, wiggle.co.uk), with its multi-layered construction, to be an excellent choice. Both, too, come in lighter colours which means that you’ll be more noticeable than you would be in black gear when a downpour creates poor visibility on the road.

Your bibtights will need to function pretty much as your jacket does and we’d recommend Gore’s Oxygen Softshell bibs. At £160 they’re not the cheapest but in a recent BikesEtc test they proved themselves a fine match for winter downpours.

Thirdly, it’s worth investing in some waterproof overshoes. Chunky neoprene ones are perhaps best for super-cold conditions but when wet weather is your biggest problem, try layering two thin pairs instead. A pair of thin neoprene overshoes such as SealSkinz Neoprene overshoe (£30, sealskinz.com) topped with the firm’s Lightweight Waterproof overshoe AW16 (£30 chainreactioncycles.com) will definitely keep the trench foot away.

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