Duncan Wilcock

duncan@wilcock.ca

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Rain Gear for Biking in Vancouver

Father and 3 year old son in full rain gear with ski googles riding in a rain storm in North Vancouver. No bad weather, just bad clothing!

I didn't think I would ride in the rain.  

Four years ago, when I got my ebike, I was excited by the potential for avoiding bridge traffic, reducing my climate impact, and helping my son and I move around North Vancouver by bike.  I didn't think I would ride in the rain much, and I certainly didn't expect to find myself riding in almost all weather. 

Gradually - after trying to drive home from work in the pouring rain, having cars whizzing past with poor visibility, spray, and feeling less safe on Highway 1, or at busy car intersections - than when I'm on my bike and able to position myself with agility in safer places - I found I kept wanting to be on my bike - and gradually I began to experiment with biking in the rain.  

These days I ride in some serious deluges, all winter long - and as you can see - my little guy enjoys coming along too (3 yo in that photo).  I'm not intimidated by almost any rain storm.   Mostly it's just frost and ice that I avoid riding in, and I might take the bus to work once or twice per winter for that reason.

It rains less than you think it does.

I live in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver.  We are one of THE rainiest places in Metro-Vancouver.   Not infrequently, it's cloudy here, while sunny in Richmond or Point Grey.  However, I found that when I rode less than perfect weather it's often - "a bit grey," or "light mist," or "marine rain" - that doesn't get me that wet.  Moreover, on "a rainy day" - it's often only raining for an hour or two - a lot of the rest of the day it's perhaps misty, or just grey.  In short - it rains less than you think.

On eBikes, you don't sweat

You'll notice I wear rubber boots and non-breathable stuff.  I find this is a-ok because I'm not sweating under my clothing from exertion.  This is why ebike rain gear is different -  and less fancy - than fanatical cyclist rain gear. I tried those rain galoshes many bikers wear - yuck & what a pain.  Half-height rubber boots for the win!


On to the Gear:

You're reading this for the photo and the gear list, here it is:

I wrote more about my rain pants and boots in this blog post about Rain pants

You don't have to buy all this stuff to get started. This is what I found myself working up to over time.  I didn't expect to be a rainy rider - and you can see my son (3 yo in that photo) loves it too.  (We have adventures. 🙃)

I would start with waterproof:  rain pants, rain coat, rubber boots, gloves, and at least the glasses to start.   See how it goes for you, and if you find yourself liking it more - those are some more options of things we have found work well.

It's Kinda like Skiing

I love skiing.  We love skiing as a family.  I love #stormdays on the mountain.  The fun part of biking in the rain, is it has started to feel like that for me.   I have my swishy pants on, my warm dry helmet and googles.  I move at a similar speed biking and skiing.  The cool air on my face.  It feels not unlike skiing.

Cautions

Wet leaves.  In fall, when the leaves are wet - watch out for wet leaves, and even for a few hundred meters after riding over a patch of wet leaves.  I think there are oils or debris that can stick to your tires for a bit and make them slippy.  I did have a scare on my own once, and am now very mindful of wet leaves.

Final thoughts 

1. There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.

2. You're not made of sugar

I hope this inspires you to explore what your comfort level is.  Enjoy!  🚲🙃


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Update 31-Aug-2023:

1. On a reddit thread I where I shared this, a few people have commented on the importance of fenders.  100% - its so foundational to me I didn't think to mention it.   For me - as a person who bikes for utility (ie getting around town) - having fenders on my bike all year round is how I roll, and I definitely recommend it.  There are also great options for temporary fenders - check your bike shop or MEC.

2. Proud dad here: Here is my little dude biking to his daycare at 5 years old a couple days ago - on a rain day, as he has done for years.  No bad weather, just bad clothing! 

Five year old biking in the rain in full rain gear