As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a fan of rain capes. They might not be the most stylish piece of gear, but they keep you dry, and they also keep you from sweating in comparison to wearing a shell and rain pants.
About a year ago, I saw a very stylish rain cape at the Toronto Bike Show, and given that it was made “domestically” (in this case meaning the US) by a small company that says all the right things about “livable cities” on their website, I picked one up from the nice folks at Allo Vélo.
It is a Cleverhood, which has gotten some nice reviews in the bike press. Lots of nice features such as slits for the hands for when you are off the bike that snap closed with magnets. I noticed that it was picked up as a retail item by the Spacing Magazine store here in town.
So how does it compare with my very cheap plastic Chinese rain cape? Of course it is much higher quality, and the fit of the hood is quite good. Of course there are limits to how good it looks since we are talking about a rain cape: you can judge for yourself how it looks.
Compared to this:
Much delayed first impressions:
When I rode off for the first time, I was using the built in thumb loops. I immediately figured out that this made it impossible for me to signal my turns. For me, for the way that I ride in the city, this is the single biggest bone that I have to pick with this cape. Of course it is possible to ride without using the thumb loops, in which case you have to take some care in holding a corner of the cape with your hands on the handlebars.
My cheap Chinese cape has a clip in the front that fastens the centre of the front hem to the stem or handlebars, and this is surprisingly effective.
So I put some velcro onto the same spot of my Cleverhood to do the same thing. First a square of loop velcro on the cape:
then a length of double sided Velcro that can be laid sideways or vertically, depending on whether you want to fasten the cape to your stem or handlebars.
With this simple mod, I find the Cleverhood to be as useful as the other rain cape. If the vendor wanted to consider a more permanent solution, that would be great. A possible alternative would be to have two sets of thumbloops, with the second set further out on the cape in order to give enough slack in front to allow for hand signals.
The Cleverhood comes in several different fabrics. I chose the electric houndstooth for the look (just what you would want if it happened to rain during a Tweed Run) but it is fairly heavy and bulky in the pannier. If this is a concern, I’d suggest one of the the lighter fabrics. Or, a sub $20 vinyl cape from ebay……
Update: Cleverhood now makes a more basic and cheaper raincape called the Cleverlite, reviewed here.