We have all heard the familiar proverb, “April showers bring May flowers.” Sadly that is not ringing true in Vancouver so far this year (anymore?), and April showers seem to have brought, well… May... and June showers. If you are finding that this wet weather is raining on your parade as you try to (swim?) to work, fear not. There are ways to make even the rainiest commutes comfortable.
First thing’s first, disc brakes make all the difference. It is imperative to be able to stop reliably for obvious reasons first of which is safety. While it is possible to have reliable wet weather stopping with a traditional rim brake, disc brakes significantly reduce stopping distance. Rim brakes on commuter bikes generally involve calipers which pull rubber brake pads down onto aluminium rims, it is a system that works well and has stood the test of time. Of course, this can become problematic when the rims are wet and slippery with whatever road-grime one may come across, hence disc brakes enter the picture. Because of the nature of the disc brake (a caliper which pulls metal brake pads down on a rotor), they are much more reliable in wet weather. Unfortunately if you are riding a bike that is not disc brake ready, you might just have to take into consideration the additional stopping distance and invest in some other gear to save your commute.
Some people are fully prepared for any weather and leave full-fenders on their commuter bike year round, some of us thought that April showers would bring May flowers and already took our fenders off only to find that was the wrong choice. Thankfully, there are a few easy-install ways to keep dry in wet weather, the Zefal RC-50 Seat Post Rear Fender and the Beaver Tail are some great options for sudden downpour.
As for what to wear riding in the rain: bootie covers, bootie covers, bootie covers. Wet shoes are the worst feeling ever, but the solution is fortunately quite simple. Again with enthusiasm: BOOTIE COVERS! Of course, bootie covers can only go so far in protecting a cyclist from rain, thus the rain poncho comes into play. While it may look a little silly to the untrained eye, the cycling specific rain poncho is one of the best things in any cyclist’s closet. They are better ventilated and easier to use than most rain jackets, and can protect a larger portion of the cyclist’s body.