Step 2: Actually Prepare for Winter.
Obvious in retrospect, but when I was in college I rode my carbon race bike (my only bike for a while) everywhere. There was no room for fenders in this SUPERFAST frame, so I simply showed up everywhere very wet. Now that I am older and (a bit) wiser, I realize that there is no gear more stylish than the crinkly clothes that go “swshswshswsh” because you can shed them like a wet snake skin when you arrive at your destination. The trick, which somehow took me a long time to figure out, is you have to cover actually every part of yourself, which means jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and a hood or hat. If you want to commute like a professional, here are some recommendations from our staff with over 5 years of Portland commuting experience…
The #1 essential you should always shoot for is a spectacular pair of lights, which is good to have through all seasons, but especially so when the days are darker and shorter. I now have a bike that runs on generator lighting, but if and when I use battery powered lights I have go with one high quality, USB rechargeable set, and one cheaper, disposable battery set as a back-up. The higher quality lights will be on my bike, with the back-up set in my bag. Be sure to remove lights from your bike when you lock it up, as these tend to be thief-bait. My favorite lights in general, and that we carry in the shop, are by Light & Motion.
Pictured above is the Urban 650 at $80. I’ve had this light since I started commuting 5 years ago and it still works fantastically, whereas cheaper lights I’ve bought have had a much shorter lifespan. We carry a variety of Light & Motion lights up to 800. The Urban 350 is fantastic for city riding, especially if your commute is already lit. If you’re like me, and have very dark commutes with no lamps, the 650 is a good go-to.
The first thing you want to do before you ride is check the weather report: What’s today’s high/low? What are the chances of precipitation by the hour (I like to think of “percent chance” of rain as actually being “percent volume”)? But most telling: How many centimeters or inches is it supposed to rain today?
That last question helps me really decide how much gear I need each day. For example, if it’s going to rain 0.3in or more in one day I will definitely grab my pair of rain pants and rain boots. Here’s how I personally categorize rainfall/day:
- 0.0in – 0.3in: A light drizzle, just a rain jacket will suffice (sometimes I’m stubborn and even go rain-jacket-less, but that’s just me. Like I said, I’ll always have it handy regardless)
- 0.3in – 1in: Depending on what hours percent-chance is highest, this could be a getting soaked situation. For example, if it rains 1in in the course of one hour, that’s very heavy rainfall. If it rains 1in over the course of a whole day, that’s more of manageable-medium rainfall. These are the things I pay attention to so that I am prepared for my ride.
- 1in-4in+: This is more of a flash-flood situation, be prepared to be soaked.
Fenders are essential, unless you are a fan of mud stripes down your back. Depending on your commuting situation, you may also consider upgrading to all-weather brake pads, upgrading to wider tires with more grip, or covering your bike up if you park it outside to prevent excess wear. Come by the shop and we’ll be more than happy to help you get set up for year-round riding and turn that frowny commute upside-down. Plus, if you come in before November 31st, all our accessories are %25 off, so you’ll save on your lights, fenders and other gear!