Staying dry on two wheels.
August 22, 2008 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I need to find the best gear for riding my scooter in the rain.

My scooter is my sole form or transportation, and if I have my way I'll never own another 4-wheeled vehicle. But alas, the days of having my girlfriend drop me off at work on the way to hers are over, and my daily commute has just increased significantly (15-20 minutes each way on neighborhood thoroughfares, never above 35mph). And man, has it been raining here recently.

So I need suggestions for remedying the following problems:
• Bad visibility once it's really coming down. Are there specific helmets, visors, goggles you'd recommend? Would applying Rain-X to any of those help?

• General dryness. I'm okay with packing a change of clothes and drying off once I get to work, but I'm also okay with staying as dry as possible. Are there any particularly badass suits or coats you like? Has anyone had experience with one of these silly-looking things? I'm willing to spend some money under the circumstances.
Please help me not be doomed to my city's horrible public transportation system on rainy days! Thanks!
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As far as coats, all the bike couriers I know have one of these for use in cold/wet/nasty weather. As far as I can tell, that jacket is totally bomb-proof.
posted by rocketman at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2008

I have a Honda Metropolitan, and I feel your pain.

re: helmets, I just wear a standard motorcycle helmet with removable face shield, and treat it with Rainx, and that seems to work fine. I also keep a superabsorbant microfiber towel in the seat compartment to dry off the seat and handles, etc. before I sit down.

Other than that, just a regular (longish) raincoat/trenchcoat works well for me. Because of the design of the Metro, really the only parts of me that get super wet are the shoulders and tops of my legs, and wearing a trenchcoat protects those parts.
posted by anastasiav at 12:44 PM on August 22, 2008

You want a motorcycle rain suit like this one. It fits over your clothes and you'll arrive dry unless you happen to fall in a puddle. I have one and it's awesome.
posted by jdfan at 1:07 PM on August 22, 2008

The debate as to whether RainX is bad for your shield rages. These however are awesome and won't cloud over. Also as it gets cooler, consider a scooter skirt.
posted by piedmont at 1:13 PM on August 22, 2008

are you a boy or girl? Are we talking summer rain or cold n wet or ..? Mostly day or some night driving too? Do you want to look marginally hip or are you more inclined to functionality?

This is what I do all day, and it's not a one product fits all scenario. The best thing for you may be useless to someone else. Mefimail me if you'd prefer.
posted by modernpoverty at 1:14 PM on August 22, 2008

There's also a product called Visor Proof by Nikwax, which is a Rain-X like thing specifically for visors.

As to general dryness, you may consider waterproof motorcycle gear. I ride a motorcycle year round in Seattle and my Joe Rocket something-or-other jacket and First Gear overpants keep me perfectly dry and warm when it's nasty out. The armor in the jacket and pants can only be helpful if you ever take a spill.
posted by jclovebrew at 1:21 PM on August 22, 2008

The scooter skirt is an updated version of those old lap robes that used to be sold for winter riding; they were made out of rubberized canvas and went across your lap and down in front of your legs. They work ok on long trips, but are much less satisfying on a cross-town commute because you have to put your foot down at every red light and then your leg gets wet.

I prefer a rain suit like the one jdfan links to. You pretty much have a choice of getting a small and very packable one that you can keep under your seat and whip out in an emergency, or a heavier duty one that will last longer but takes up more space. I've seen people wearing those heavy yellow outfits like fishermen and sailors wear, and in driving rain that's probably the best choice.

There are also, for more money (but also much better crash protection) a bunch of mostly- or fully-waterproof textile motorcycle suits like this one (or for half the money, this one). Hi-Viz yellow, with lots of reflective tape, is the best way to go for safety in traffic.

Helmets: a face shield is better than just goggles, because it keeps the rain off your cheeks and nose. Having two helmets is really the best option, if you can afford it, because putting on a cold and damp helmet in the morning is really awful — with two, one will always be dry.

Gloves: you can buy special waterproof motorcycling gloves, or if you are on a budget and don't mind possibly less crash protection, you can go to a marine or ranch supply store and buy some heavy duty gloves that will work ok.
posted by Forktine at 2:12 PM on August 22, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses so far. To answer modernpoverty's questions:

are you a boy or girl? Boy.

Are we talking summer rain or cold n wet or ..? Mainly summer rain.

Mostly day or some night driving too? Both day and night.

Do you want to look marginally hip or are you more inclined to functionality? Way more inclined to functionality.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 2:14 PM on August 22, 2008

There's also a product called Visor Proof by Nikwax, which is a Rain-X like thing specifically for visors.

I had not heard of Visor Proof yet, but I can tell you from experience that while Rain-X is great on a car windshield, it will not help on a plastic visor. I regretted my experiment, and I don't think my visor has ever been quite the same since. Rain-X is designed to bond to glass, and that's seriously all.

I recently found this review of a product called Raincoat which looks very promising. It's specifically designed for polycarbonate and not for glass. In fact I should go order some now. Getting a little rainy here too, lately.
posted by Tubes at 3:00 PM on August 22, 2008

Assuming you have a proper face shield, you could try some wiper gloves.
posted by chairface at 5:03 PM on August 22, 2008

Sometimes Academy Sports and Outdoors or Home Depot have bright yellow rain jackets and matching pants. The pants are so worth it. If I just wear a jacket sans rain pants I hate how my legs get soaking wet. They have to fit well. If they don't they blow up while you're driving and it can be a bit of a distracting danger. This reminds me I need to get some new ones. I tore the last ones and have been using a chemo gown from work. Strange enough that thing works great - it completely waterproof, ties in the back and covers my lap past my knees so my legs stay dry. I imagine outside of the med center I look like a complete weirdo. But I AM a dry weirdo. Maybe appropriate something like that - a waterproof workmans' jumpsuit or something that can be easily stored in the boot of the scoot.

I've heard good things from other scooterists about Frogg Toggs and Gore-Tex, but I'm still too much of a cheapscape to have tried them out myself.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:25 PM on August 22, 2008

I share your pain - I commute by scooter in Scotland and we have had our fair share of rain recently. The best thing to do is just bite the bullet, and pay for proper motorcycle gear, which will be rainproof. And definitely treat your visor with a water repellant - I started using one made by Nikwax and it makes a big difference. If your scooter doesn't have a windscreen, you could fit one.
posted by primer_dimer at 9:27 AM on August 25, 2008

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