Spring showers and autumn drizzles: Rainy day essentials reviewed
It’s the time of the year when the weather is the most unpredictable, and there always seems to be a chance of rain. But with a few of the following essentials, you will always be prepared no matter what the forecast calls for.
Reviewed: Ass Savers original and the Fendor Bendor
€8-12 EUR/$9-12 USD/$12-18 AUD
While they won’t keep you completely dry when it’s actually raining, fenders will quadruple your comfort level as they keep your butt and back relatively dry and clean. Full fenders aren’t always an option or desirable, so for racing or when caught in an unexpected rain shower, Ass Savers do exactly as their name suggests.
We have used their original design for jaunts around town as well as races. These small, plastic and ingeniously designed splashguards are wedged in between the saddle rails and can certainly make your ride a lot more comfortable.
They have now expanded their line with longer fenders, called the Fendor Bendor. They’re fold-able, highly packable and like the original, needs no tools to install. The Fendor Bendor simply straps around the seat tube and extends back through the seatstays to offer more coverage for those really wet days. For now, the Fendor Bendor come sin only tow colours –black and white — and two widths: the ‘slim fit’ and ‘regular’.
The added coverage is very nice, though you won’t make any friends with the rooster tail spray behind you. Also be aware that, like many fenders, the Fendor Bendor does not work on most aero frames as there is no clearance.
Pros: easy installation, packeable, lightweight, inexpensive
Cons: not compatible with aero frames.
Reviewed: veloToze tall shoe covers
$18 USD/ €16 EUR/ $25 USD
A rainy or cold ride is made exponentially more comfortable if your feet are warm and dry. Most good booties, however, can be spendy. That’s where the increasingly popular veloToze booties a welcoming change.
There are incredibly simple but effective. They’re little more than stretchy, latex sleeves you pull over your shoes. No seams, no zippers, no Velcro, no fuss. As long as they’re properly sealed at the calf, the booties are indeed wind- and waterproof.
The booties are re-enforced around the cleat area and have an aerodynamic fit. The balloon-like material will fit with just about any shoe and cleat, but be aware that putting them on and off is a bit of a struggle. Unlike other booties, the veloToze go on before you put on your shoe. You pull the cover on onto your bare skinned calf, then put on your shoe, and finally, pull the cover down over the shoe. They’re quite tight, to seal out the water, and taking them off when I was cold and soaking wet became a two person job.
The other problem was that the balloon-like material does tear easily. The latex does not play well with sharp objects like rocks (or road surface!). But for how cheap they are, it’s worth the risk or a second pair.
Pros: lightweight, smooth, aerodynamic, relatively cheap, packable and effective. Available in a wide range of colors to match your kit.
Cons: Can’t adjust your shoes once they’re on. Getting them on-and-off can be a two-person job. Tear easily.
Reviewed: Velocio Women’s ES Rain Jacket & RECON Jacket
ES rain jacket: $249 USD/ €199 EUR /$295 AUD ; RECON Jacket: $395 USD/ €300 EUR/ $435 AUD
Unless you live in the desert, every cyclist should own a good rain jacket. Living in Seattle, I have gone through many ‘waterproof’ cycling jackets only to find them none of them ever really are truly waterproof.
Velocio was up for the challenge, and provided two models to be reviewed – the ES Rain Jacket and the RECON.
Women’s ES Rain Jacket
Cyclists are a demanding bunch. We want gear that keeps us dry yet doesn’t make us sweat any extra. We also want it to be a lightweight and packable as possible. Not too mention the fact that it needs to fit well and look good. It’s a tall order, but with their ES Rain Jacket, Velocio comes pretty close.
The women’s ES Rain Jacket certainly is most of those things: it’s ultra-lightweight, highly packable, breathable and stylish. But is it waterproof? Yes-ish. It does the job for spring showers or light mountain drizzle, but for the 3-4 hours in driving rain, no soft shell is truly going to do the job.
This is the perfect jacket for just anything else though. Going climbing? Pack it for the descend. Chance of showers? Don’t leave your home without it. Crispy morning? Wear it now and stow it in your pocket once it warms up.
Its water shedding qualities aside, what makes this a go-to jacket is the fit. Tailor-fit for a woman in the riding position, the jacket featured fully taped seams, a slightly longer tail and silicone gripper at the back, and a 5 centimetre collar.
What may appear as a relative simple jacket is anything but. Velocio’s commitment to the small but important details is once again apparent in this item. Among my favourite features are the two-way zipper (seriously, why don’t all manufacturers make use of them?!), the reflective trim and the loop on the back intended for a rear light. I also like the little splash of their signature colours in the collar.
All in all, this is a go-to jacket because it’s simple, comfortable and utilitarian.
Pro: ultra-lightweight, highly packable, breathable and good fit.
Cons: price is a little steep, and not waterproof enough for driving rain.
Women’s RECON jacket.
Now here’s a rain jacket that will actually stand the aforementioned 3-4 hours in the driving rain. It’s a hardshell rain jacket that can be worn on- and off-the bike, and it’s hands down the most fashion-forward bike jacket I have ever seen.
It’s definitely eye catching and it has a urban look with its motorcycle-inspired high collar that snaps shut or folds downs, off center nickel zipper, and a tailored feminine fit.
But while it may look almost too nice to be worn on the bike, it does not lack one bit in performance.
The water- and wind proof hard shell is made of a three-layer Polartec® NeoShell® which has the best breathability in the industry. The jacket also featured fully taped seams and a high collar to keep out even the harshest weather.
Keeping the rider in mind, the jacket has pre-shaped sleeves and shoulders for on-the-bike comfort and coverage , and features reflective logos and trim details.
This may just be the perfect Pacific Northwest rain jacket because it performs on the bike and looks great in the coffee shop. I’ll be honest and say that I have worn it off the bike more than on it, and would highly recommend it for those who bike commute around town.
This is however, not a packable jacket that would bring ‘just in case on a long ride’. That’s what the aforementioned ES Rain Jacket is more suited for. The RECON jacket is for breezy spring days and moody fall weather.
Pros: Fashionable, truly water- and wind-proof, great for commuting and coffee shop rides.
Reviewed: Knog Blinder lights
Blinder mob four eyes: $45 USD each/ € 40 EUR/ $47 AUD
Blinder Road twinpack: $134.95 USD (set) / €121 EUR / $187 AUD
Rain clouds also means low lights, so make sure you can see and be seen. I’ve been a fan of the Melbourne-based Knog lights for a while now and their waterproof Blinder range only reaffirms how much I like their products. Here’s why:
First off, I like the designs. The rear lights are sleek and integrated, and the signature square front lights are fun, colorful and practical.
Meanwhile the waterproof qualities are key when you’re living in the Pacific Northwest where corroded, rusty lights can be a problem. The fact that the usb charging port is fairly exposed on all knog lights, I had my doubts about just how long these lights would last, but I have been pleasantly surprised that they’ve survived the wet winter months just fine.
They’re also USB rechargeable, are wire- and battery-pack free and the new strap design on all Blinder MOB lights –comprised of loop of a silicone strap that hooks to each side of the light — means that you can fit a variety of handlebar widths and replace the strap should you break or overstretch one.
The MOB Four Eyes
The MOB lights come in five distinct models that are designed to meet different lighting needs. The distinctions lie with the number of LEDs used and the beam angle they provide. I tested the “Four Eyes” lights which are made up of four surfacemount LEDS, each with a 35° beam angle, great for urban riding. The kind of lights you want to have handy in your bag or pocket.
My only complaint is the low run time when you’re using the solid or “steady” function, which is about 5 hours for the front light, 6 for the rear.
The Blinder Road Twinpack
With a lumen output of 250 on the front and 70 on the rear, the Blinder Road Twinpack is Knog’s high performance lights for when being able to see if just as important as being seen. And while they’re labeled as a ‘road’ product, I have found them strong enough for the occasional night-time dirt ride as well (when paired with a second light).
The front light comes with an optional helmet mount, which is particularly useful for dirt rides or those with long bike commutes along poor-lit roads.
For a powerful light, the front is pleasantly compact and there are no battery pack and wires to deal with. Downside. however, is the shorter run time because of it.
Pros: Cute, integrated design, no wires, rechargeable, waterpoof, replaceable bands, fits just about every bar.
Cons: short run time