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cycling in the rain: bike seat covers

August 25, 2010
Rainy commute

When I decided to start bike commuting on a daily basis, I told myself that I would do it despite the heat, rain, cold, or snow – as long as the road conditions were safe and I wasn’t being too unreasonable. (Of course, how I define ‘unreasonable’ is highly subjective and likely different from what someone else might deem so.)

It has rained occasionally this summer and I have stayed true to my promise to keep cycling on such days. I’m hardly being that novel – lots of bike bloggers have written about their commutes in the rain and most Europeans would likely be surprised by the notion of only cycling in ‘perfect’ weather conditions. It seemed to me like most Germans in Munich – where it rains A LOT – had no hopes of seeing a cloudless sky on most days and rode their bikes thus equipped:

I saw many bright and colorful saddle covers in Munich this past spring. I also saw many cyclists throw a plastic cover over their backpacks and a light rain cover over their clothes to keep cycling on not so sunny days.

Before leaving Munich this spring, I picked up a saddle cover for myself. I didn’t even have to go to a specialty bike store to find it, the local bookstore had a collection of them in the ‘spring’ arrivals section along with books on outdoor grill recipes, picnic accoutrements, and summer travel guides. How nice to just find cycling accessories thrown in with BBQ paraphernalia in the local bookshop.


The red and white polkadot seat cover was by far the most popular look I saw this spring. Ubiquitous among the young and old, the new and the vintage bike lovers, it covered many a bike seat in the university bike parking areas. I chose the white and blue cover and was pleased to see that it comes with a drawstring elastic edge for a snug saddle fit and that it is large enough to even cover a broad cruiser saddle.

I have been leaving my saddle covered on rainy days and it’s worked like a charm. The seat stays dry and my Brooks leather stays protected.

Rain cover for bike saddle...

This way, I can still hop on my bike and enjoy the ride despite a bit of wetness. And wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on this kind of fun…

Rainy day bike commute
30 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2010 13:08

    Aww, those seat covers are SO Sweet!
    I have never seen one here in Russia but I like the idea very much. In fact I’ve been using a shower cap just for the same purpose (and for the dust too) for a while. Works much better than the local shop’s plastic bag! :)

    • August 25, 2010 13:10

      PS Murmuring “Singing in the rain” to myself while riding in the rain also helps a lot. ;)

    • August 25, 2010 16:37

      Shower cap – what a great idea! I love that.

  2. Janni permalink
    August 25, 2010 14:43

    There you see that Munich is a wealthy town: Somewhere else they would have fear that the saddle covers would be pinched.

    • August 25, 2010 16:39

      Janni – yes, so true! I quickly learned that you can pretty much leave your wallet on the table in the restaurant and walk away and it’s still there when you return. So many people would just prop their (gorgeous!) bikes unlocked outside of a shop while going in and there just never seemed to be this fear of ‘watch your bag on the subway, lock up your bike and take your accessories off it, etc”. Munich is definitely deserving of its nickname ‘Toytown’.

      • Jen permalink
        August 28, 2010 03:38

        I recall one particularly sad commentary on theft in America when I was bike-commuting more… when someone stole the PLASTIC BAG from the grocery store off my bike on a rainy day. It was tied on. With a double knot. Poof, gone, stolen. It really makes me wonder…

        Also, from my grad school conversations with a German friend, who said: “When the weather changes, Americans change their mode of transportation. Germans change their clothes.”

      • August 28, 2010 14:20

        Oh no, Jen, what a sad anecdote – I can’t believe someone worked that hard to steal a plastic bag!

        As for that quote – priceless. I love it. I also like “There is no bad weather. Just bad clothes” which I saw on a storefront in Colorado a while ago.

  3. August 25, 2010 15:45

    So far, I’ve just used a gigantic ziploc bag, and that’s worked pretty well. I hope to pick up a good seat cover in Amsterdam next week though :D

    I actually love riding in the rain in the fall and spring, when it’s not too cold out. I mean, I wouldn’t want it to rain every day, but the amount that it does rain in Portland, I find really refreshing, as we often have some really nice weather mixed in with the rain, and it very rarely rains really heavily. Though even the really heavy rain can be fun sometimes too (especially if it’s on the way home from work and not on the way to work) :)

    Glad you’re enjoying the Raleighs!

  4. August 25, 2010 17:36

    Seat covers are so practical, I love them! However, it doesn’t matter if one can’t get it at a bike store. In Europe many people also just use plastic bags. Not so stylish, but do the trick nevertheless :).

  5. August 25, 2010 19:13

    I use a pink polka dot shower cap! I also keep a pink plastic mac in my basket for when it rains, which is frequently.

  6. mooie fietsen permalink
    August 25, 2010 19:29

    Congratulations on the new Raleigh! And I sent you an email with my bike and its bikecap to add to your photo collection of bikecaps, lol.

  7. Laura permalink
    August 25, 2010 23:47

    I’ve recently lost the key to my faithful bike lock, and now must replace it. What kind do you recommend?

    • August 26, 2010 02:50

      Laura – I have a medium sized combination lock. It takes care of that key problem and I have found it to be quicker to work since I don’t have to grab a key out of my purse or bag each time. I got to set the combo myself – added bonus. It’s pretty old so I don’t remember the make, but that’s what I would recommend.

      Hope that helps!

  8. October 18, 2010 03:03

    I’ve started riding my bike for my daily commute, which I love doing, but we’ve had only nice weather since I’ve started- my big concern for the upcoming rainy season is more towards the stuff that I am carrying. My city sometimes has really heavy downpours, and even my “waterproof” backpack will let some amount of water in, which I’ve typically gotten around using an umbrella. Do you have any recommendations based on your experience?

    • Dave permalink
      October 18, 2010 04:09

      Heather: pannier bags or a basket with a cover are your friend :) throw your waterproof bag in, and not only will you not have to carry it, but your stuff will stay totally dry.

      • October 18, 2010 05:18

        Thanks for the super quick response! Can you recommend any specific baskets with covers? I couldn’t find anything locally or with a quick internet search, although I’m sure they’re out there. I’m fine dropping money on an online buy, but if I can’t check it out in person, I’d prefer if it came with a recommendation.

      • Dave permalink
        October 18, 2010 05:30

        Unfortunately I don’t, I haven’t used one personally. I know Dottie from has one though, maybe she could recommend it (or not). Good luck!

    • October 18, 2010 12:03

      Heather – I saw a lot of backpack covers made for cycling in the rain while in Germany. It just looked like an oversized showercap for your backpack. I don’t have any specific recommendations but I’ll see if I can’t find something like a brand or name to recommend. S.

  9. November 18, 2010 15:37

    i like velvet seat covers because the texture is very special and i find it easy to clean **”

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