A winter resolution

May 9, 2009

A while ago I posted about getting around, and I may have given the impression that I cycle a lot.

Now that it’s got colder and wetter, this isn’t really true. When measured against hardier types, like Jack, I am a wussy failure of a cycle commuter.

So anyway this morning I was thinking about how I spend more than $20 a week on buses. And shamefully, almost $30 on taxis when I’m coming home late from capoeira class on a Monday and Thursday. (The Number 2 is infrequent after 8PM and it’s a long walk uphill from the bottom of Hapua to the top of Mt Vic, OK?). $50 a week is a lot of dosh to have leaking away: $200 a month, and (allowing for holidays) about $2000 a year. Even if I only save half that, that’s a pretty chunky saving.

I realised that two things are holding me back. First, I need a raincoat to deal with the cold and wet, and second, I need panniers or something equivalent to make it easier to shlep the workday impedimenta. My current backpack just isn’t up to holding work clothes, gym gear, lunch and random crap.

I have investigated improvising some panniers out of army surplus knapsacks, but the fact is that my crafty capabilities aren’t up to it. But that’s ok. Because it’s clear that if I can keep the budget for bags and raincoat under a couple of hundred, they’re still going to be a great investment. It looks as though that’s quite achievable, based on today’s online research.

Sometime this week, I’m going to order some panniers. I’m just waiting for a couple of retailers to get back to me. And I’m going to buy a raincoat. When I have, I will post about it. And then in a couple of months, I’m going to tell you how much I’ve used them.

This post wasn’t actually for your benefit — it’s for me.



  1. I got this awesome raincoat on my way south at the Macpac outlet store (in ChCh). It was $59 down from $200+ At the moment I am wearing it every day (snow today!)

  2. Ta for the shout-out. If you’re buying a decent raincoat, definitely think about a cycle-specific one. Yes, it seems like an extravagance, but it makes sense – longer tail so the small of your back doesn’t get wet when you bend forward over the bars, less actual “warmth” stuff so you don’t overheat going uphill.

  3. Where does one obtain bike ones? At a bike shop?

  4. They took them off in the 1980s when cycling became a ‘sporting’ activity rather than transport, but they’re necessary in Wellington – mudguards. If you get a good pair they’ll make your commute a lot more comfortable. Get ones that aren’t too large and fit the bicycle. They’ll save you from getting wet, and save your clothes from being covered in grime, extending their life. Which is frugal.

    And good warmish waterproof shoes. I have no idea what you’re wearing, but if your shoes are letting in either cold or water, it’s not going to be fun.

    Not so sure about buying a “bike” jacket. If you get mudguards you won’t have a wet arse, and a bike jacket with its long tail isn’t something you’re going to want to wear elsewhere. You’re essentially buying an expensive single purpose jacket… Buying a quality jacket is certainly a good idea though.

  5. actually recommend rebel sports
    if you get their training jackets they have breathing panels which is great for cycling,their trouser are also really good as they are wide cuffs to go over shoes with Velcro snaps for after you’ve put your trousers on.

    and then you just invest in a can of waterproofing & cover your gear. As most coats like watches are water resistant rather than waterproof.

  6. Agree that mudguards are vital – I run them on my road bike and it’s astonishing what a difference they make. However, in a downpour, you still need a good jacket.

    I own both a decent tramping jacket and a decent cycling jacket, and there’s no comparison. If I wore the tramping jacket when cycling, it’d ride up my back, bunch up in front, generally be too bulky and catch the wind. A good cycling jacket is really just a decent shell, cut to take the bent over position into account. Yes, it’s not really the sort of thing you’d wear around town (though I’ve seen people do so); but I wouldn’t be without mine. Plus, they should pack up small so you can drop it in the bottom of your pannier and forget it until it actually starts raining. 😉

    One corollary to Sue’s point: these days, most technical fabrics are designed to “breathe” and transpire moisture from inside (as you sweat). This usually means that they’re showerproof rather than totally waterproof. You can get totally waterproof kit, but it’s usually a bit more expensive and hot to wear during exertion. YMMV.

    Any bike shop will sell them. Otherwise, Ground Effect do excellent jackets, made in Christchurch (groundeffect.co.nz), or you could try the usual online retailers: probikekit.com, wiggle.co.nz, torpedo7.co.nz…

  7. Ah, I was unaware of probikekit or wiggle — ta!

    • KrankDirtWear(.com) are based somewhere in the South Island, though I believe they offshore their manufacturing. Also a good option, possibly a bit less garish too.

      Though that said – I think that any bike rainwear that you’re going to ride on tarmac with needs to be fairly garish. In impaired visibilty situations (such as during, say, rain) it’s pretty vital to make sure you’re as visible as possible to drivers.

      That’s another reason for the bike specific jacket: my tramping jacket is actually quite understated and tasteful, which is another way of saying “hard to see when driving at 50kph in the rain and at twilight”. Whereas my Ground Effect jacket is in a color called “Agent Orange” – the pictures online don’t do it justice, it’s pretty glaring. But a visible cyclist is a safer cyclist…

  8. Can second Ground Effect – I have their Flash Gordon jacket (with long tail and underarm vents, bloody good) and the hi vis vest. I’m thinking of getting into their Merino stuff this winter.

    • Before we left the UK in 2005, we did some mountain biking at Coed y Brenin. On a Tuesday in summer, we saw maybe 30-40 other cyclists. I’d say that about 75% of them wearing at least one item of Ground Effect kit. It’s great stuff, reasonably priced (though these days they’re being undercut by the online only places flogging stuff made in bulk in China), and works like a charm. We got burgled a few years ago, and they took my GE raincoat: I ordered a replacement the next day. I really rate their stuff.

  9. Jack. Light of my life. Dear God. ‘Offshore’ is not a bloody verb.

    • Yes it is, dear. I hear it used a lot.

      • Verbing weirds language.

  10. Can recommend Ground Effect shells tho. I lived in mine in the UK, for daily cycle-commuting and recreational riding.

  11. I totally hear you brother!

    Being even more poor, frugal, and just plain cheap, as well as totally enjoying making things myself:

    http://www.carsstink.org/peterson/FendForYourself.html – DIY fenders/mudguards from Coroplast (that plastic cardboardy stuff) – thank you Mt Albert by-election.

    Panniers – best thing I ever bought for the bike

    Jacket – Now Stephen, you seem to produce as much perspiration as myself. That’s a lot of sweat. So if you got a full jacket on, you gonna sweat inside unless it’s daaaamn cold and raining. And if it is that, you gonna need rainpants too. And with jacket AND pants, you gonna sweat unless it’s below 0. So either way you get wet.
    Me, I’ve just made myself a fitted cape. I look like frikkin red ridin’ hood. Yet it keeps me pretty much dry, including legs, while maintaining wicked airflow. Can give instructions if you want, but being a handy fellow can probably make it yourself. Cost was $0 as I already had the fabric, but if I needed more, it’s $3/meter and you need 2 meters at most.


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