Like any other outdoor sports activity cycling is very much influenced by weather. On rainy days or in unpredictable, nasty weather you cannot forego waterproof cycling clothing. Because nothing is more uncomfortable and unhealthy than a wet body which gets cold very quickly. When it comes to cycling clothing weight, volume and of course breathability play a crucial role. Rain clothing for cycling should feature a small pack size and if possible should fit into your rear pocket or backpack. No water should penetrate from outside, yet perspiration and excess body heat should be wicked away.
Makeup and Characteristics of Waterproof Cycling Clothing
Definitely you can protect yourself from water simply with a plastic sheet, but even if you do not get wet from the outside after a short period of time you will be soaked in your own perspiration. The high grade, breathable textiles waterproof cycling clothing is made from are usually multi-layer fabrics with a waterproof membrane at their centre. In addition an outer DWR (durable water repellent) coating prevents the fabric from soaking with water and thus adding weight. The material wicks body moisture from the inside out. The elasticity of the membrane presents a quality criterion for waterproof cycling clothing. The more elastic the material the better the freedom of movement and the tighter and more sporty the fit can be.
Another criterion for assessing waterproof cycling clothing is the water column which defines the degree of waterproofness of the fabric. The water column is expressed in mm and describes the water level on a surface of 10 square centimetres at which the water starts to penetrate the waterproof fabric. The higher the water column, the more waterproof the fabric.
Waterproof Polyurethane (PU) coatings can be found on products with rather small surfaces or on partial areas of waterproof cycling clothing such as shoe covers, gloves, sleeve hems and leg grippers. The advantage is that the characteristics of the carrier materials (mostly Lycra) are maintained, the disadvantage is simply that the coating wears over time.
To protect waterproof cycling trousers, cycling jerseys and the backs of cycling jackets from drizzle and especially from spray they are ever more being equipped with a water resistant DWR coating. This way the Lycra material maintains its elasticity and water and dirt simply drip off. The DWR coating does not withstand heavy or continuous rain, though.
Waterproof cycling clothing – what you should consider
As is known, water will always find a way. For this reason presumably waterproof clothing should be critically assessed.
- Are the seams bonded? The fabric itself can be really waterproof – if the seams are not bonded the garment as a whole will only be water resistant. Seams are usually the weak points in waterproof cycling clothing.
- Are the zips waterproof? Have waterproof zips been used or do waterproof flaps cover the conventional zip?
- Are there waterproof pockets which are protected from inner and outer moisture? Perspiration is just as harmful for your smartphone as rain.
- Does the garment feature a cycle-specific fit? The back must be extra long. Arms and knees should be ergonomically preshaped. All hems (sleeves/legs/waist) should be width adjustable.
- Are there vents? On long tours you should have the possibility to ventilate. Usually you find zipped vents on the sides or in the back of your cycling clothing. Even if a certain breathability is provided, sometimes a cyclist simply needs more …
- How small is the pack size? Does the waterproof cycling garment fit into your rear pocket or does it require a backpack or cycling bag?
Which waterproof clothing provides sufficient protection from rain on bike?
The waterproof cycling jacket is the classic waterproof garment on bike. Depending on the cycling discipline it is wider or tighter, features a hood or a high stand-up collar. It can be extremely lightweight and transparent for competitions or robust for longer tours. The waterproof jacket is the core item of your waterproof cycling outfit. Our premium waterproof road bike jackets are extra light, extremely breathable, highly elastic and tight fitting and of course 100% waterproof.
Waterproof jackets for MTB, tour and city in contrast are less elastic, feature a wider cut and are heavier. But this way they offer more stow-away space, more functionality and perhaps a hood. Waterproof jackets by Vaude are compelling due to their sustainable production, colourful and high grade fabrics and functional materials. Waterproof jackets by Endura are the result of long years of experience from the Scottish Highlands for the development of very robust and functional waterproof cycling clothing. Gore produces high tech Gore waterproof jackets as well as jackets for MTB, tour and day to day life. The Gore-Tex membrane is known worldwide and used in the most diverse waterproof products.
Waterproof cycling trousers are indispensable as protection from rain on bike because the front of your legs relentlessly face both headwind and rain. Since sports bikes do not feature mudguards protecting your lower back from spray is crucial. Classic waterproof trousers are mere pull-over trousers. Specifically recommendable: Waterproof trousers by Vaude which are available in different leg lengths because even on top of bib shorts rain shorts which keep off water and dirt absolutely make sense.
Rain ponchos are popular rain garments for cycling in the city. They are lightweight, easy to put on, cover your head, torso, arms, thighs and even a backpack. But they do not offer rotection from spray from below and can easily flutter in the wind.
The waterproof overall is an innovation in mountainbike cycling clothing. In nasty weather conditions or on muddy courses you simply pull over the rain suit and it offers on bike protection from both rain and dirt. It stays well in place, does not flutter, everything fits perfectly!
Numerous accessories protect you from rain on bike
Rain shoe covers keep your feet warm and dry and your shoes clean. Often they are made from Lycra with PU coating, from insulating Neoprene or from Nylon fabric with membrane.
Helmet covers as the name suggests, are pulled over a helmet as a waterproof protection. They are made from lightweight Nylon fabric with membrane.
Waterproof cycling gloves usually full-finger gloves are made from elastic and warm Softshell with waterproof membrane or from insulating, waterproof Neoprene.
Waterproof cycling caps are worn underneath a helmet. Their shape resembles that of a classic cycling cap with small peak which protects your eyes from rain. Nylon fabric or lightweight Softshell fabric with membrane keep your head dry.