This week, if there is going to be a burst of rain, it is going to come down at exactly the moment I set off on my bicycle and stop just before or shortly after I get home.
I’ve been getting a lot of advice lately from my serious cycling friends, about inclement weather and bike gadgets, and since I think it’s so useful I’m going to share the highlights from a few recent exchanges with my friends Natalie in Charlotte, Aaron in Seattle and a few folks I’ve talked to in the bikelanes:
ON KRYPTONITE LOCKS
Not all Kryptonite locks are created equal. In Natalie’s opinion, the best on the market is the (best name ever!) New York Fahgettaboudit® 1410 which, according to the manufacturer, is “for extreme security needs in high crime areas.” She says the second best option is the same make and model in a U-lock. But, “the inherent weakness in any U-lock is the length between the U-bend and the lock,” says Natalie. “The longer it is, the more space in which to slip a crow bar, get leverage and snap it. Shorter is better, but it will restrict where you can lock your bike. They are much more manageable as far as weight and carrying them.”
Natalie also breaks down the Krypto color scheme: yellow is Kryptonite’s top lock, while orange is their second tier.
ON VISITING LOCAL BIKE SHOPS
“They’re great people, but cyclists can be snobs, don’t let them talk down to you.” (I love you, Natalie.)
There are two kinds of lighting, says Aaron: “Lights to see and lights to be seen. While not mutually exclusive it is an important distinction. The biggest area of concern on a bike is, from the side, this is where something like BikeGlow comes in handy. Couple words of warning in some places it is illegal to have blue lights as they are only used on emergency vehicles so look at your local ordnance for light color.”
[Eds note: Denver seems to be ok with any color of light from the side, but light must be white on front and red in the back. See link to Bicycle Laws at the bottom for more details.]
ON RAIN & COLD
“Most important thing about biking in the rain is get some fenders,” says Aaron. “They keep you dry and your drivetrain cleaner.” Got ’em, thanks to Black Sheep. Aaron doesn’t think I need to worry about rain as much as cold: “The biggest issue with wet is getting cold so address areas that get cold easily first, like hands and feet.”
To compile a list of cold-fighting tactics I’ve heard in my recent travels: water-resistant everything, Ziplocs/plastic bags where wearable rain-resistance isn’t possible, lobster gloves, chemical warmers and balaclavas, balaclavas, balaclavas. Everyone sings the praises of these balaclavas.