La Vie Velominatus: The Rain Bike

In our privileged stables of bikes, it ranks towards the bottom of the heap as Bike #2 or lower, but the Rain Bike is no slouch. This is, after all, the bike we rely on in bad weather, trusting it to carry us safely through what typically amounts to the most dangerous conditions we ride in. Provided you ride year-round, you likely ride this machine more often than your Number One – assuming you live in an environment that isn’t a tropical island (I’m looking at you @gianni) or classified as a desert. It follows, then, that this is a machine to be curated with great care and several factors should be kept in mind when selecting the machine for this wet and dirty work.

The first consideration is the material. I hope I’m not spoiling anyone’s fantasy by pointing out that rain isn’t actually made of the sweat falling from Merckx’s guns as he pedals high up on Mount Velomis; it is mostly water, mixed with some acids and other crap. Rain water can cause certain kinds of materials to become compromised in one way or another. Steel, for example, is particularly prone to this through rusting. Calfee’s bamboo frames might be susceptible to becoming soggy – I’m not sure. For a bike which is to be ridden primarily in wet conditions, choose a durable, non-corrosive material like titanium, aluminum or carbon.

The second consideration is the components. Here’s the other news flash about riding in the rain: the roads are less pristine than they are in the dry. Road grit gets in your drivetrain and on on your rims, acting like coarse sandpaper to accelerate wear. Since you’ll be replacing some parts more often than on a bike ridden in the dry, this is a bike for which to get economical about gear selection; you aren’t going to want to replace your full titanium Super-Record cassette and chain after it wears out in 1/3 the time. The shifters, brakes, crankset, and derailleurs don’t have to be greatly affected provided you maintain the bike in the style of a velominatus, but the wheels, bottom bracket, derailleur pulleys, chain, cassette and freehub will certainly feel the strain. Anything that moves, has a bearing, or lets water in is a candidate for accelerated wear.

Third, this has to be a bike you’re going to love riding, not some beater that gets abused and you tolerate throwing your leg over. As much as riding in Rule #9 conditions is badass and an invigorating experience, it does get a bit tiresome when you ride in the rain every day from October to March (or May, for you Pacific-Northwesterners). If your position isn’t right and if the bike isn’t a pleasure to ride, it’s not going to make getting cold and wet any more enjoyable.

Lastly, this bike will be taking abuse, so remember that your safety is entrusted to this machine in conditions when visibility is low, stopping distances increased, and road surfaces slick. Maintain this bike more diligently than any other machine; check the brake pads and rims for dangerous wear, check the metal bits for rust and cracks, and keep a close eye on the chain and cables. Resist the temptation to spray it down with the garden hose as the pressure can lodge the grit deeper into bearings and other nooks and crannies on the bike. After each ride, clean the braking surfaces carefully, wipe the chain down (or, better yet, use a Cyclone with soapy water to get the grit out from in between the links) and always use a wax-based lubricant to keep the dirt from sticking to it more than with traditional oil-based lubes.

But most of all, remember that the best kind of ride is the one you’ll be able to do again; stay safe and ride carefully. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/LVV Rain Bike/”/]

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290 Replies to “La Vie Velominatus: The Rain Bike”

  1. @Nate

    @versio

    That’s a great way to disguise the fact that you are running a Ritchey cockpit when you regret not running something better.

    Ha!! 

  2. @versio

    @RedRanger That (this)

    is nice. The mount makes me want to use a 500.

    Sorry, I think that thing looks worse than just having the 500 mounted on top of the stem.

  3. @mcsqueak

    @versio

    @RedRanger That (this)

     

    is nice. The mount makes me want to use a 500.

    Sorry, I think that thing looks worse than just having the 500 mounted on top of the stem.

    Pretty sure it’s just an attempt to make it look more like a pro’s SRM set up. The marketing fluff says it’s a more natural position for you to look at while keeping the road in your peripheral vision. Love the K-Edge gear though, they do a mount that’s near identical for a GoPro to sit in front of the bars, pretty sure Marko used it to gather the KT12 videos.

  4. @versio

    @frank

    @Nate

    @versio

    That’s a great way to disguise the fact that you are running a Ritchey cockpit when you regret not running something better.

    Ha!!

    Hee-haw!

    Wait, you guys are telling me you’re not getting Stembone at the sight of a Ritchey C260? That’s the only stem I’d want more than a 3T or a Vibe Sprint. Maybe even more than a Zipp.

  5. @tessar

    Is that that one where you have to take your tape and shifters off and thread the bars through because the faceplate is too small to fit the bars normally? I don’t feel the wholesale reverence for quill stems some do but that stem doesn’t seem to be the most practical. 

    Yes I am picking a fight over a stem. And while I’m at it, admitting to EPMS use, considering camelbacks, (you know who you are), garmins, flashing jackets? Even if we lie through our teeth, lets not forget where we are. I’m gettin all misty eyed for a bit of Rule #5 holism. 

  6. @minion That’s the one. Except if you’re using a bar that tapers (IE, most that aren’t PRO’s Vibe, to my knowledge), you can insert it from the taper section. Sometimes that means removing the tape, but it appears that on most bars you can even fit it with tape in place. No reason to touch the shifters in any case.

    It’s also super-light (~100g for a 100mm stem? Hell yeah!), stiff, inexpensive and gorgeous. Yes, mine awaits me in Frankfurt.

  7. @Xyverz

    Hmm yes, I see what you mean – the comment button or whatever was there before seems to have disappeared.

    I’ll try to find out from support, but nothing has been changed in terms of club details or access for members. Maybe connected to the recent legal issues ???

    And by the way I see we have 94 people now !

    While Frank is revising Rule #74 maybe he can add the Strava Widget to this site ;-) then you could see all my miles in the snow in Abu Dhabi, if it freezes over before Hell.

  8. On the subject of Strava, I just found this site which allows you to compare multiple rides over a segment. Quite interesting for working out where everybody looses or gains time. Haven’t quite worked out if it will compare all of my rides over a segment which would be useful as well.

  9. @frank

    @Giles

    One of the best things about riding another bike is how much it reminds you of the #1″²s awesomeness. I’ll be on the Soloist or TSX and say to myself, “I don’t know why I bother with the #1…this bike is perfect.”

    Then I get on the #1 and it is stiffer, lighter, more comfortable, climbs like a hot air balloon, corners like a downhill ski…and I say to myself, “Right. That’s why I bother.”

    The contrast between bikes makes it all the more fun to ride them and reminds you of how they’re different. Its a privilege to have that option. I don’t feel like I’m cheating on #1 when I ride #3; I’m reminding myself of why she’s my #1.

    YUP! I definitely consider owning a few nice bikes a huge privilege. No, I don’t have to have all of them, but it’s completely awesome to be able to choose from a few different really nice bikes which one you feel like riding on a particular day. I actually like the slightly different feel and fit on them and don’t try to match my them exactly. But, I also don’t live in a rainy place where I might be on my rain bike as much as the #1.

  10. On the topic of lights, being seen, etc – I picked up a Spiuk gilet last fall for fall/winter low-light riding. It’s neon green/yellow with some reflective stripes. Not piping, but real stripes. I was amazed at how much more room drivers gave me. It was around $30 and has made me feel much, much safer on low-light rides. Yeah, you look like a commuter on a hybrid, but I’d suggest it to anyone doing a lot of winter riding. When I pull it on mid-ride I suddenly feel much safer because drivers really use a lot more caution around me. Makes the 2nd half of the ride that much better.

    Instead of TTing it home to get off the roads I’ve been able to just enjoy the ride.

  11. @versio

    Nate, Natey, Nato “” here are some details for your future references to The Sword. 3T Team Ergosum, 3T Team ARX 130mm at 17 degrees down (threw Ti bolts away to use steel head bolts), ZIPP Service Course tape Black, 2012 Black/Red Centaur carbon controls with Black hoods. No computer to fuck it up. No regrets, but I sense Nate regrets.

    Dude, stop calling it “The Sword.”  That’s as bad as the douchebag who posts on here who insists on calling himself “The Oracle.”

  12. @mcsqueak

    @versio

    @RedRanger That (this)

    is nice. The mount makes me want to use a 500.

    Sorry, I think that thing looks worse than just having the 500 mounted on top of the stem.

    Yeah, I’d rather mount it directly on my eyeball than put it out on the front like that.

    @Nate

    My Merckx, you are overthinking this.  The beauty of the 200/500 is that it’s so small you press the start button, stuff it in a jersey pocket, forget it’s there and ride on feel.  Then pop the data on Strava when you get home to prove to yourself the wisdom of this approach.  End of.

    I’ve heard reports from various people that putting it in the jersey impacts accuracy, especially on cloudy days. Not true? The GPS-calculated speeds and distances are already suspect, based on cloud cover. (I noticed on the Cogal, that @urbanwhitetrash was riding 2kph faster than me on climbs that we rode together according to Strava.)

  13. @scaler911

    @RedRanger

    @frank

    @RedRanger

    @frank didn’t  you get #3 to race with? What’s going on with that?

    I’m behind on everything because there’s this website that eats up heaps of my time. Still aiming to race this year, probably starting in July or so. We’ll have to see. CX for sure.

    Bummer.

    Having hung out at Casa de Frank, you people (myself included) eat up a shit ton of his time (and Merckx bless him for it). But don’t feel bad; he loves it.

    I do love it, I wouldn’t do it otherwise. Its the whole narcissistic feedback loop inherent to the internet. “Of course people care about what I have to say, so I’m going to say it…SHUT UP MOM, I’M BUSY!!!! AND BRING ME FRESH CHOCOLATE MILK!!!!”

  14. @frank Thats where the wheel/cadence sensor comes in to it’s own, the unit uses it to smooth out the inaccuracies of what is probably a relatively low end GPS unit.

  15. @frank I quite the look of that mount in terms of the position it puts the Garmin but it would work as no one would be able to see the rather fine looking white 3T of my new bar and stem combo.

  16. @tessar

    @versio

    @frank

    @Nate

    @versio

    That’s a great way to disguise the fact that you are running a Ritchey cockpit when you regret not running something better.

    Ha!!

    Hee-haw!

    Wait, you guys are telling me you’re not getting Stembone at the sight of a Ritchey C260? That’s the only stem I’d want more than a 3T or a Vibe Sprint. Maybe even more than a Zipp.

    I can’t get crazy over Ritchey bits on a road bike; they’re just too firmly connect to Bridgestone and Tommy Frischknecht. It feels to me like putting MTB pedals on a road bike. Completely irrational, of course, but that’s the association for me.

    @ChrisO

    While Frank is revising  Rule #74 maybe he can add the Strava Widget to this site ;-) then you could see all my miles in the snow in Abu Dhabi, if it freezes over before Hell.

    Easy cowboy.

  17. @frank

    @mcsqueak

    @versio

    @RedRanger That (this)

    is nice. The mount makes me want to use a 500.

    Sorry, I think that thing looks worse than just having the 500 mounted on top of the stem.

    Yeah, I’d rather mount it directly on my eyeball than put it out on the front like that.

    @Nate

    My Merckx, you are overthinking this.  The beauty of the 200/500 is that it’s so small you press the start button, stuff it in a jersey pocket, forget it’s there and ride on feel.  Then pop the data on Strava when you get home to prove to yourself the wisdom of this approach.  End of.

    I’ve heard reports from various people that putting it in the jersey impacts accuracy, especially on cloudy days. Not true? The GPS-calculated speeds and distances are already suspect, based on cloud cover. (I noticed on the Cogal, that @urbanwhitetrash was riding 2kph faster than me on climbs that we rode together according to Strava.)

    I’d be interested in knowing this as well.  When I ride with my brother in law I tow him up every climb, yet he tops me on every segment according to Strava.

  18. Must be a practice run for a computer hacking clan, but I admire the effort it took to hack the site and post as multiple users.  Only explanation for posts that condone putting abominations where they don’t belong.

  19. @Chris

    @frank Thats where the wheel/cadence sensor comes in to it’s own, the unit uses it to smooth out the inaccuracies of what is probably a relatively low end GPS unit.

    I’m not willing to sully my bikes with sensors and magnets. Ghastly.

    @itburns

    Must be a practice run for a computer hacking clan, but I admire the effort it took to hack the site and post as multiple users.  Only explanation for posts that condone putting abominations where they don’t belong.

    Well played, good sir.

  20. @mcsqueak

    @versio

    @RedRanger That (this)

    is nice. The mount makes me want to use a 500.

    Sorry, I think that thing looks worse than just having the 500 mounted on top of the stem.

    Just being polite and supportive.

  21. @The Oracle

    @versio

    Nate, Natey, Nato “” here are some details for your future references to The Sword. 3T Team Ergosum, 3T Team ARX 130mm at 17 degrees down (threw Ti bolts away to use steel head bolts), ZIPP Service Course tape Black, 2012 Black/Red Centaur carbon controls with Black hoods. No computer to fuck it up. No regrets, but I sense Nate regrets.

    Dude, stop calling it “The Sword.”  That’s as bad as the douchebag who posts on here who insists on calling himself “The Oracle.”

    How about I call my No.1 road bike “Steel Bitch!”

  22. @RedRanger

    Me likey!

    @frank

    I’ve heard reports from various people that putting it in the jersey impacts accuracy, especially on cloudy days. Not true? The GPS-calculated speeds and distances are already suspect, based on cloud cover. (I noticed on the Cogal, that @urbanwhitetrash was riding 2kph faster than me on climbs that we rode together according to Strava.)

    This is where my speed/cadence sensor come in handy. If you’ve got the correct tyre size set, you’ll always (or at least you should) have the correct speed, even if the Garmin’s GPS is being flaky. Having the magnet may violate the spirit of the rules, but I certainly like having an accurate speed record.

    With regards to putting a GPS in the pocket… Before I got my Garmin, I used CycleMeter on the iPhone. (this was before the Strava iPhone app.) I thought that the Garmin would be more accurate, but it’s really a toss-up. I’ve had super-accurate readings on my iPhone (which really has a shitty GPS in it), and some wacky Garmin readings for the same segment. Then there are days when the Garmin outshines the iPhone entirely. I’ve since decided to just deal with it and stop recording on the iPhone – I save the battery in that for emergencies.

    On a side note. My 500’s battery is FAWESOME. I left it on and running last night after getting home from work. The elapsed time on my 25-minute ride home from work was almost 14 hours. When I got to work and plugged it in to sync to strava, I still had 30% battery life left. WIN!

  23. Don’t forget that your iPhone, Garmin or hi tech GPS in the new 787 are all getting info from the same satellites.  And with waas they are crazy accurate. I doubt that a thin layer of Lycra is really going to affect that. The hanger I’m in right now is metal and I can still get a gps position on my iPhone.

  24. @Xyverz

    Ah, the good folk at Strava have replied (impressive support I have to say)… apparently it has changed and you have to go into the Members tab and then you will see the Add Comment link above the Club Discussion threads.

  25. Re: The Rain Bike – My locale is coastal, occasional rolling hills, but nothing requiring great gobs o’gears.  Bad weather rides are performed close to home for the most part, so the ultimate rain machine would be a belt driven road bike, internally geared hub, GPS/Garmin optional.  Since this mix of transmission magic is considered commuter fair, I am going to have to build one.  I like that idea!  Anyone performed similar build?

  26. @frank@VeloVita@Xyverz

    @Nate

    My Merckx, you are overthinking this.  The beauty of the 200/500 is that it’s so small you press the start button, stuff it in a jersey pocket, forget it’s there and ride on feel.  Then pop the data on Strava when you get home to prove to yourself the wisdom of this approach.  End of.

    I’ve heard reports from various people that putting it in the jersey impacts accuracy, especially on cloudy days. Not true? The GPS-calculated speeds and distances are already suspect, based on cloud cover. (I noticed on the Cogal, that @urbanwhitetrash was riding 2kph faster than me on climbs that we rode together according to Strava.)

    Every now and then on a twisty bit of road the GPS data will be a bit off in the woods, especially for descents, but other than that I seem to get consistent enough distances and data.  In my experience the GPS speed/distance data are more accurate than a cycle computer that relies on accurately measuring the circumference of a compressed tire.  When I used to run a wheel sensor based computer I carefully measured wheel circumference, and compared my loop distances to data from Google maps.  I found the cyclecomputer was telling me that my rides were about 1-2% longer than the Google data did.  The GPS data is a lot closer to reality according to Google.   Now I’m really glad to be ride of all the sensors, etc., and I really like not having the computer on my stem so I can just ride on feel — I was getting to a point where my pace on certain climbs was driven by what I thought the numbers were telling me rather than what my body was telling me.  Not as fun.

  27. @Chris

    On the subject of Strava, I just found this site which allows you to compare multiple rides over a segment. Quite interesting for working out where everybody looses or gains time. Haven’t quite worked out if it will compare all of my rides over a segment which would be useful as well.

    Erm could someone help a special needs pedalwan join the strava velominata club? When I look for clubs, says a location must be entered?

  28. @Nate

    I was getting to a point where my pace on certain climbs was driven by what I thought the numbers were telling me rather than what my body was telling me.

    Which is precisely the pitfall with riding with numbers. Especially for folks who fixate on HR. Stop when your legs say stop, not your computer.

  29. @meursault

    @Chris

    On the subject of Strava, I just found this site which allows you to compare multiple rides over a segment. Quite interesting for working out where everybody looses or gains time. Haven’t quite worked out if it will compare all of my rides over a segment which would be useful as well.

    Erm could someone help a special needs Pedalwan join the strava Velominata club? When I look for clubs, says a location must be entered?

    Try this link: http://app.strava.com/clubs/velominati

  30. @Nate

    @meursault

    @Chris

    On the subject of Strava, I just found this site which allows you to compare multiple rides over a segment. Quite interesting for working out where everybody looses or gains time. Haven’t quite worked out if it will compare all of my rides over a segment which would be useful as well.

    Erm could someone help a special needs Pedalwan join the strava Velominata club? When I look for clubs, says a location must be entered?

    Try this link: http://app.strava.com/clubs/velominati

    Think I am in nice one grazie

  31. @The Engine

    Strava won’t work on my Android device – what should I do?

    As long as you can save the gps file in say gpx format, you can upload to strava from your hard drive. I have win 7 phone so no compatible strava app here, but uploads file fine.

  32. @versio

    @The Oracle

    @versio

    Nate, Natey, Nato “” here are some details for your future references to The Sword. 3T Team Ergosum, 3T Team ARX 130mm at 17 degrees down (threw Ti bolts away to use steel head bolts), ZIPP Service Course tape Black, 2012 Black/Red Centaur carbon controls with Black hoods. No computer to fuck it up. No regrets, but I sense Nate regrets.

    Dude, stop calling it “The Sword.”  That’s as bad as the douchebag who posts on here who insists on calling himself “The Oracle.”

    How about I call my No.1 road bike “Steel Bitch!”

    That’s marginally better.

  33. @Nate

    @frank

    No worries.  In other news, it looks like my Felt had a lifetime warranty on the workmanship so I may be in line for a new frame that-a-way.  In which case I think I’ll make it a cross bike.

    So I dropped the cracked bike off at the Felt dealer earlier this morning and I already have word back that they’ll replace the 7-year-old frame for the cost of shipping the new frame.

  34. @frank

    @Nate

    I was getting to a point where my pace on certain climbs was driven by what I thought the numbers were telling me rather than what my body was telling me.

    Which is precisely the pitfall with riding with numbers. Especially for folks who fixate on HR. Stop when your legs say stop, not your computer.

    So here’s a case where I’d disagree. Knowing what my max HR is can help me measure a peak effort over a longer distance without blowing up. “The Ridge” would be an example of where I did that. I was certainly in ‘the tunnel’ but glanced down once or twice to see if I had more beats to give. I didn’t. But without the HRM, I can gauge it pretty close.

  35. @scaler911

    @frank

    @Nate

    I was getting to a point where my pace on certain climbs was driven by what I thought the numbers were telling me rather than what my body was telling me.

    Which is precisely the pitfall with riding with numbers. Especially for folks who fixate on HR. Stop when your legs say stop, not your computer.

    So here’s a case where I’d disagree. Knowing what my max HR is can help me measure a peak effort over a longer distance without blowing up. “The Ridge” would be an example of where I did that. I was certainly in ‘the tunnel’ but glanced down once or twice to see if I had more beats to give. I didn’t. But without the HRM, I can gauge it pretty close.

    I can see the use on that.  I used to ride with an HRM.  It definitely helped me learn what being in the red zone felt like.  Now that I have more experience I prefer to ride on feel.

  36. @ChrisO – Thanks for the heads up. That was the one thing I was thinking I should try, but never did. heh.

    @Nate – Good point about the garmin influencing uphill pace. I’ve actually bonked out of a ride feeling like a complete pussy because I was ascending a lazy grade at walking pace. It was very disheartening. I might have to take this page from your book when I go ride Climb to Kaiser next week.

    @frank, @scaler911  – Even if I watch my heart rate while climbing, I can’t go any faster than my legs will allow. (and my legs are pussies on the longer, more demanding climbs…) I do, however, try to use my HR + Cadence to determine a good pace to set for a longer-distance ride. I don’t want to exceed 140bpm and 90rpm for the first hour of a Century if I can help it. That way I’m not completely blown out for the last 35-50 km. My max HR is 178.

    @Nate  – good news about the frame, mate!

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