Keiu (Say Kay-u) means “welcome rain” in Japanese. I welcomed rain while wearing the Keiu jacket from Swrve. First to see if it was actually waterproof, and secondly because it is actually waterproof.
But more on that later. The first thing I noticed about the Keiu was the number of compliments on how it looks on me, with many folks grabbing my lapels or sleeves to feel the hand of the fabric. The Keiu is fancy. Fancy is not my jam necessarily, but I do like to take a compliment or two on occasion! Neutral in color, dark heather grey they call it, cut for cycling. The slim cut XL size fits me well while offering enough room for a light layer of down for cold times.
There are a nice selection of features… Removable hood, Napoleon-style chest pocket, long tail to cover your ass, hand warmer pockets, fleece around the neck for coziness and Velcro-adjustable cuffs. Zippered vents low enough to not interfere with a backpack. The zippers have a high-quality feel to them, although I need to report that the main zipper tended to get caught in the internal binding tape on the way up.
Anyway, the Keiu is pretty waterproof. 15k waterproof, which means that if you put a square tube with inner dimensions of 1×1” over a piece of this fabric, you could fill it with water to a height of 15,000 mm (32.8 feet) before water will leak through. This waterproofing is accentuated with seam-sealed construction in a modified-raglan design to keep water away from the seams. It’s also breathable to a level of 10k. This means that 10,000 grams of water can pass out through a square meter of the fabric in a 24 hour period. Not to get all tech on you, I just googled this stuff.
This is all fun and games though. The only garment that’s really, 100% waterproof is an impermeable rubber or plastic one like you see on fishing boats and school crossings and such. These types of garments are great for standing around in the rain but you will find yourself drenched in sweat as soon as you start exerting yourself. Hence the quest for waterproof, breathable fabrics. In practice, I found the Keiu pretty darn waterproof but not 100% breathable, as I did find myself slightly damp with my own internal moisture at times. But this fine. It is really more important that the jacket keeps the water out, right? I think this fits in well with the casual nature of my riding style, you see. If I was racing or into super heavy workouts this might be a different story.
I dig this jacket. Lots of nice little details, the right functionality, the right amount of waterproof and style on the street. $300 from https://swrve.us/ or one of their dealers.Tweet Print
Sugoi means “terrific” in Japanese. I would agree that their Zap Collection line is pretty terrific. The entire clothing line has reflective fibers sewn into it and the results are illuminating (pun intended).
The Women’s Sugoi Zap Waterproof Jacket is a fully reflective garment. If you look close up, you see little dots all over it. Each of these dots is a reflective material. So in low-light conditions, when a vehicle’s headlights are pointed in your general direction, you become a lightbulb. There were a few moments when it seemed to startle people as they were rolling up closer to me – a “wth?!” look came across their faces as a big smile was on my own. It, of course, doesn’t stop those who can’t seem to not stare at their crotches when they drive (ahem, put down your phone!), but if you are looking you can’t miss me in this jacket.
The Zap Bike Jacket has a PU coated waterproof fabric and proved its ability in a few deluges. The front zipper has taped seams so nothing is getting in there. The only thing on the wishlist for this jacket would be a hood. But this jacket is designed for performance and when you are out pushing yourself miles and sweating up a storm, I would agree a hood is too hot.
Speaking of hot, there are side zippers for venting. These are full open vents; what I mean by that is you unzip it and there is a nice opening for air to get in. Each vent has a cover flap to prevent rain from entering. The Zap Jacket also has a small rear zip pocket, big enough for keys, a wallet and snack bar.
Conclusion: Would I wear this jacket for a fashion show, no. Would I wear it on a day-to-day basis without a hood, no. Would I wear this jacket in low-light riding conditions, definitely!
Women’s Zap waterproof Jacket cost: $160
Sugoi offers a plethora of Zap products for women and men you can check more out here.Tweet Print
By Aixe Djelal
The bicycle has been my preferred mode of transportation since the fourth grade field trip where Benjamin Gray barfed up beef jerky and chocolate milk in the back of the school bus.
I learned how to ride a bike when I was five years old. Impatient after weeks of holding onto the bike’s banana seat as I wobbled around the block, my father (who can ride a horse but not a bike) took me to the top of a grassy hill, threw caution to the wind and gave me a firm push downhill. I remained upright and pedaled hard — Charles Darwin would have been proud.
Fast forward to college in Portland, Oregon. I rode my Trek 800 all over the city, thrilled to be away from Indiana, enjoying the mild, rainy winters. My bike gear consisted of an itchy alpaca sweater that stank like a wet dog, a Gore-Tex jacket (no pit zips), heavy leather hiking boots and baggy striped cotton pants from Guatemala that soaked up water like a sponge. As I pedaled up a busy street late at night, a policeman pulled me over and said he wouldn’t ticket me if I promised to get bike lights the very next day. I did, and I am still grateful to him.
Portland’s public transportation system has a fine reputation, but I can’t get past the sour smell of dirty laundry and halitosis that is the hallmark of every bus I have ever ridden. I live three miles from work and the fastest, cheapest, most pleasant commuting option is my bicycle. I ride an eight-year-old Trek Soho commuter year round.
In the elevator at work many people are astonished that I ride in the winter rain, unconvinced that I don’t melt in the water, incredulous that I am comfortable, safe and dry on two wheels in a downpour. In order to cycle in the rain, all you need is a bicycle and the desire to ride it. In more than 20 years of commuting, I’ve found a few extra things that make riding in the dark, damp winter months even more pleasant.
Hey motorist, here I am!
Some cyclists say that wearing bright colors puts the onus on the cyclist to be seen, and diminishes the responsibility of motorists to look for bikes. Although I empathize with that point of view, on the rare occasion that I drive a car, I‘ve noticed it is much easier to see cyclists dressed in bright or light-colored clothing. Since I prefer to remain alive on Portland’s imperfect roads rather than be “dead right” on the issue, I wear a yellow rain jacket with reflective accents.
A helmet can help in a pinch
Wearing a helmet is a choice for adults to make in Oregon. I have no illusion that my helmet will save me from the beer truck (or the Fiat 500) that rolls over my head. I wear a helmet because if I crash onto the road, it could help prevent a serious head injury. I‘d be less inclined to wear a helmet in a truly cycling-oriented city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen where there are many more bicycles and fewer expectations that cyclists keep up with the speed of motorized traffic. Cyclists in these cities ride more slowly, which reduces their chances of crashing.* My helmet also serves as a useful platform for a rear light and a camera.
*My experience is that rush-hour bike traffic in Amsterdam is just as frantic and fast-paced as auto traffic in the U.S.! Still seems a lot safer, though. —Editor
Eye protection for visibility
Clear plastic glasses keep the rain and road grit out of my eyes while still allowing me to see suicidal squirrels, potholes and other people on the road. Fancy cycling glasses are not necessary — for $7 the local safety supply store will sell me children’s shooting glasses that fit my narrow head (also available in adult sizes).
Oregon law requires a front white light visible from 500 feet away and a red reflector or light visible in low car headlights from 600 feet away. On gloomy days and at night I use a blinking white light on my handlebars, pointed toward the ground so it doesn’t get in the eyes of oncoming cyclists and motorists. I also use a couple of blinking rear red lights, one on my bike rack and another on my helmet.
Ears are the eyes in the back of my head (approximately)
Even though I use a bar-mounted mirror, nothing beats my ears for awareness of motorized vehicles coming up behind me. Although I would enjoy listening to music while I ride, I would rather have my ears available to alert me to what I cannot see. Rear-end collisions are responsible for 40 percent of cyclist fatalities.
Treat your bike right
In any weather, a bicycle with a clean, lubricated chain and reliable brakes is more enjoyable to ride. The wet weather and road muck are hard on chains and brakes. I check mine regularly, along with making sure my wheels’ quick release levers are tight and locked in place.
Slick tires aren’t slippery
Slick soled shoes are sketchy on wet surfaces. Slick tires are a different story. I used to think that a healthy tread improves traction and now I understand that the opposite is true. My tires are closer to slicks than knobbies, with a tiny tread. Tires do wear out, so I check mine for baldness and tears periodically.
Fenders are gutters for bicycles
Houses without gutters get flooded basements. Cyclists without fenders get wet feet, inverse skunk stripes up their backs and dirt stuck in their teeth. Bike frames, chains and saddlebags enjoy the protection of fenders, too.
Waterproof top to bottom
A waterproof jacket with a breathable membrane and pit zips keeps me dry and comfortably ventilated. I add waterproof pants in a downpour, but in a warmish, light rain I would rather have slightly damp legs than the annoying friction of rain pants against my knees.
Cyclists who carry anything they want to keep dry should invest in a waterproof bag. There are lots of options these days — backpacks, saddlebags, trunk bags and handlebar bags. I’ve had my Ortlieb panniers for more than a decade and they’re still going strong.
I cannot find waterproof cycling shoes that I like, so I use neoprene shoe covers. They are not completely waterproof, but unless it’s raining biblically, they keep my feet dry enough. Wool socks keep my feet warm even if they get wet. Polyester fleece socks are warm and dry out quickly. Cotton socks are a disaster — they get soggy and take forever to dry. I keep an extra pair of socks in my desk drawer at work.
How to appear vaguely respectable after a rainy ride
Cold wet weather chaps skin, so I use moisturizer on my face and lips before I set out in the morning. I keep extra deodorant at work because I tend to run cold and overdress for winter riding. Waterproof mascara keeps me from looking like a raccoon on downpour days. Speaking of wildlife, I cultivate the “hair like a bird sanctuary” look, but for those who do not, I recommend keeping a comb or brush handy for the end of the ride.
There are many, many options for staying dry and safe on a bike in wet weather. I’ve seen people with capes, plastic bags over their shoes, and even umbrellas attached to their bicycles. Not all bicycle gear is expensive, and not all expensive gear is good. Find what works for you and use it. Enjoy the ride!
I think it’s safe to say most of us can agree: getting wet sucks. Where I live in Portland, Oregon, a soggy spin is simply the reality of life for a large portion of the year. There are countless waterproof jackets on the market, but for some reason wearing rain pants is a form of sartorial suicide.
Enter Splatterdashers. Created by Andreas Eiken, they are waxed canvas chaps that cover your entire foot and extend up your leg onto your thighs. The idea is that they would encourage more folks to ride bicycles in the rain, and help alleviate one of the barriers to using cycling as practical transportation.
They aren’t for sale yet, but Eiken—a user experience and product designer from Vancouver, British Columbia—wants to hear your feedback on the idea and the design. What do you think? Would you wear Splatterdashers?Tweet Print