Let it be said that in the bike commuting world, I am not one of the cool kids. The cool kids wear stuff like jeans, hoodies, beat-up high-tops; nothing with even a vague whiff of spandex, never mind Gore-Tex. They ride stripped-down bikes with one gear and maybe a brake.
Me, I want to feel like I’m in my own personal shrink-wrapped bubble, impervious to wind, moisture and the odors of the waste transfer facility I ride by every morning. OK, I can’t do anything about the odor. But I suit up.
This is my main defense against the dark elements, the Castelli Dublino jacket. It’s awesome. It lets in zero moisture, and has huge zippered vents up the sides. It’s got two sliders on the main zipper, so you can open it at the neck and the waist at the same time. All the zippers have large pull tabs for easy use with gloved hands.
And I’ve also crashed in it, and not only did it stay intact, it kept my skin intact as well. It’s a little pricey, at somewhere north of $120, but if you want a good waterproof jacket, you have to pony up.
I bought a Canari jacket at REI for about half that much and it was useless. Waste of money. Fifteen minutes in a mild drizzle made me feel like I’d been plastered with green toilet paper. Yuck.
I also wear Pearl Izumi Elite full-length bibs, which have windstopper, water-resistant fabric covering the front of the legs and waist, and conventional Lycra in the back. They’re a little stiff, but they keep me dry and toasty in 30-degree weather.
Other people sport some interesting alternatives that I’m curious about; one guy I know rides with “Rainlegs,” which is a waterproof half-knicker set-up that just covers the top of your thighs.
There are some other interesting cycle-friendly clothing companies emerging that are making clothes you can bike with and keep wearing at the office. No changing necessary. I think I’m staying with my super-bright shrink wrap thing for now, but in the spring I’m definitely checking out some of those options.