Okay. Below is a review of a product- and it’s taken way too long to make happen. Between using it in the fall of last year, moving back to Alaska, my video review process shitting the bed, then it being summer- the time wasn’t right. But as can happen, fall has arrived once more, and it’s time for folks to start thinking about the rain that comes with it. So here is my review, as originally written, with photos from last week.
A couple months back I got the opportunity to put the Cleverhood Rain cape through a long term review process. I of course jumped on it because rain capes have seemed like a good idea to me since I first saw them in the Rivendell Reader. I have a tendency to run hot- when wearing a waterproof shell I often get to my destination soaked from sweat, not rain; the thought of not needing a waterproof jacket and pants when the clouds open up was like a breath of fresh air.
You may wonder why I haven’t put one through the paces already if it’s been in my mind for so long. In one word: cost. Quality rain gear is expensive and rain capes are no exception. I’d seen Carradice and Brooks rain capes over the years, but they were difficult to source (being from across the pond) and over $250 a pop. That, and they were made of waxed cotton- which though aesthetically pleasing, is fairly bulky, dries slowly once saturated and they take maintenance (more maintenance is needed the more it is used in the rain, the wax being something of a sacrificial element.)
So now that we’ve established that I’m
a cheap bastard frugal, we’ll get on with it.
Cleverhood was born in, and still based in Providence, Rhode Island. They are made in the United States and inspired by the slow bike movement, or in their words: “the simple, elegant way the bike is affecting broad change in our cities.”
Iva Jean is based in Seattle and we love to hear about bike-based businesses in Seattle. Starting with the fall 2011 release of the Rain Cape, founder Ann DeOtte has been hard at work coming up with new fashionable, functional designs for female cyclists that want apparel to go from the bike to the boardroom, cafe, bar or dinner. She has a Kickstarter campaign that this new line of apparel can be purchased from in order for Iva Jean to take the next step and grow into a larger project.
Bikes aren’t just for racing. You don’t need to be built like a track racer to ride to the store. What I love about Iva Jean’s designs is that they are for the everyday gal that doesn’t want to get all decked out in spandex or day-glow yellow. They are classy pieces that bring together form and function.
Props to Ann for thinking ahead and best of luck in this endeavor.
Check out Iva Jean HERE. And support the Kickstarter campaign HERE.
The rain has once again settled into the Northwest and now comes the time where blue skies and sunshine are the exception, not the rule. With fall comes preparation for damp days and dark nights. For years I have threatened to get a rain cape, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it. With full fendered bikes being the norm for my daily errands anymore, I still sit on the edge; wondering if something like the Cleverhood rain cape, from Providence, RI will be the hot ticket for me this year.
A rain cape seems to be best designed for people that ride fully fendered bikes- to act as a shell from the rain falling from above. The bottom is open, allowing airflow and reducing the plastic bag sweatsuit feel that many rain suits can give. In Seattle I have found the weather to be wet, but not very cold- so I end up sweating out nearly as much as the rain permeates lesser rain jackets. My thought is that a heavier, more waterproof fabric can be used for a rain cape, meaning a more durable product all around.
I tested a rain cape last year from Hub & Bespoke, but wasn’t too keen on how it felt with a bag underneath the cape- so I waited. It was also a rubbery and plain looking piece, that I can’t remember who made for the life of me. They were more affordable than other models I’d seen, custom and otherwise, coming in under $100. The black one wasn’t too bad, but the bright yellow was too much. I’m a fan of more subdued cycling fashion preferring to be seen through lighting or reflectors not Seattle’s favorite, the ever present “yellow jacket.”
My most often ridden bike seems to be the Raleigh Port Townsend lately. With a porteur rack and large front bag- the need to carry a bag on my person is not there. This makes a rain cape seem much more conceivable.
Why focus on Cleverhood? Well, I just found them in my searches of today- and though it’s a little silly, they have a video. No, the video doesn’t really show how amazing they are for riding- but there are boats, a water ballon fight and a puppy.
Cleverhood – the rain cape from Providence from Cleverhood on Vimeo.
Other options I’ve seen are:
So whether you subscribe to the church of the bicycle rain cape or not- there is some food for thought- and a video. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get you some first hand experience from underneath one. Ride safe this fall and keep the rubber side down.