When cycling in the UK, rainwear is an essential for cyclists – particularly for those who cover long distances or use their bikes to commute and travel. Specialist kit such as rainwear doesn’t simply keep out the wet or snow however – it will also protect the rider from cold temperatures, biting winds and chemical splashes. Whereas everyday fabrics such as cottons will tend to get very cold, clammy and sodden in bad weather, technical fabrics will regulate temperature and protect from the worst of the great British weather conditions!
Rainwear garments come in a great variety and cover all budgets and requirements depending on their performance and brand. Good things to look for are man-made high tech materials that are either water resistant or waterproof – but breathable (this will prevent the rider from getting hot and sweaty while cycling – as tends to be the result when using traditional macs on a bike!)
When choosing a rainproof jacket or trousers for ‘everyday’ cycling, go for breathable but water resistant items that will repel the wind, while giving breathability and keeping body temperature regulated. These items will be lighter, less expensive and less bulky than other items – and whilst they won’t be enough for harsh weather, or extended storms, they are good for mild weather and high activity.
For heavy biking and long distances in bad weather, opt for waterproof and breathable jackets and trousers – these are suitable for cold and warm and performance is strongly dictated by fabric. A good option is Gore-Tex. It may be necessary to protect these items before use, so check the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and purchase protective sprays where necessary.
Other features to look for on rain wear jackets and trousers are vents (to make the item more breathable), large pockets, snaps and good quality closures to minimise leakages. Reflective zips and high-vis designs are also useful for increased visibility. Pick items that will dry quickly and fold up compactly into a bag – particularly useful for commuters who travel by bike.
Overshoes are also an essential for keeping feet dry – important for long distances, or feet can become very cold and prone to blistering. Overshoes and waterproof trousers are also very useful when cycling in traffic, to protect from splashes.
Rain wear needs to be cared for, or its life will be shortened. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions when cleaning your items – some will have a special coating or finish and this will wear off in time. The finishes can usually be renewed with specialist products available from a bike shop. Neoprene items can usually be repaired if small tears occur – a specialist shop will be able to advise where necessary.
Good brands to look for include Grangers for cleaners and waterproof sprays, Altura, Gore Tex, Pearl Izumi, Nike, Gore, Altura, Endura and Castelli. Most good brands are available online, although it’s worth visiting a specialist bike shop or online supplier to begin with as you research what you need and what suits your budget and requirements.