What to wear while biking in the rain? Although Belgium has a reputation as a rainy country, a bicycle rider will not have to bike in rain as much as you would think. Of all the km cycled in a year, it will rain for about eight and a half percent. Don’t just take my word for it, I found this info on the webpage of Belgium’s best known (flemish) weatherman: Frank Deboosere
So, even though it might not rain as much as you think it, I do feel like it starts to rain just when I have to leave the house. And I bike e-v-e-r-y-where with my Babboe cargo bike. The school runs, groceries, appointments. So I find it incredibly important to be properly dressed. No fashion show here, no! If I am warm and dry, I don’t mind the rain. Even the torrential kind.
So here I will share with you what I wear on rainy days while out and about with my Babboe e-curve cargo bike. Interested in buying a cargobike/bakfiets? Read my review of mine here!
A raincoat is a tricky thing when cycling. Once you cycle your body will warm up and sweat. Especially in relatively warm rainy periods, wearing a raincoat often causes you to sweat more than the rain could ever make you wet- yes, even in so-called “breathable” textiles.
At such times you should therefore think more about how warm / too warm you are going to be rather than how dry/wet you are going to be. Feel free to wear only a t-shirt (and no sweater) under your raincoat.
A quality raincoat is breathable and rainproof, preferably slightly longer down the back to protect your rear from splashing moisture, and with ‘ventilation holes’ under the armpits.
You can obviously go cycling with any kind of rain jacket, but I recommend paying close attention to the fit as well. Make sure it’s cut to your body (not a garbage bag), even with a sweater on underneath. And that the fabric is comfortable and light, and compact enough to tuck away when it’s not raining.
The even more “professional” (read: more expensive) jackets are also windproof, which can do good on a cold winter day but is often too warm for the rest of the year.
This is especially true of the plastic jackets (the K-Way), just about the best guarantee of you sweating. One hundred percent water and windproof, but also ideal for building a sweat lodge underneath.
A rain poncho is fine, even if it’s just a plastic thingy. You are really dry under your raincoat tent, and your excess body heat can disappear underneath. A disadvantage is that a poncho will also want to prove itself as a parachute on a windy day, which will make cycling extra difficult.
I always have one with me just in case it unexpectedly begins to rain.
The jacket is probably where I spent most of my money, even though it was on sale. But it’s the best one that I have had, ever, and I’ve been cycling for many years now.
Basically the same story as for the jacket: make sure you don’t get too hot underneath. While rain pants can be made of plastic or coated nylon, modern waterproof materials are commonly used, including waterproof-breathable fabric such as Gore-Tex.
You will sweat in plastic pants, but not in Gore-Tex. But I have never really sweated with the plastic ones. I need to just remember to wear it over pants instead of over leggings, stockings, or just bare legs, as it can become really cold on your legs during the winter months.
So there is not much wrong with cheap plastic rain pants. Make sure there are zippers on the legs, long enough to pull the rain pants easily over your shoes and pants, making it easier to pull over your shoes/boots.
Probably my cheapest purchase.
If you like to have a rain cap on your jacket, it is best to take one that fits snugly. A loose cap tends to ‘catch the wind’ rather quickly when cycling. I personally prefer a rainproof cycling cap, because my ears and a full field of vision remain free. A cap also keeps raindrops out of your eyes. I don’t mind the rain, but really do not like it pounding in my face.
Wet socks remain wet socks, but socks made of merino wool (the pleasant counterpart of goat’s wool) or synthetic fabric are much more comfortable when wet. Also when they’re dry, by the way. You have waterproof socks – available in the better sports store – or in case of emergency, plastic bags over/under your socks (although in that case, you will quickly have sweaty feet).
Wear shoes with grip, so they don’t shoot off wet pedals. You can wear waterproof shoes (even rubber boots, if you make sure that no water can enter from above), or overshoes: a kind of waterproof socks for over your shoes, again available in better sports stores.
I love wearing my doc Martens, but it takes me longer to put on than my cute rain boots with horses on them 😀
I don’t mind the rain on my hands while biking during warm(ish) weather, but when it’s cold and wet…or just darn cold, /I find it essential to have a pair of winter gloves on. You have all sorts of gloves, but the best that works for me was pretty cheap (hey, I’m a single mom!), bought in a local discount store. They are padded, rainproof, and have rubber grips on them. I’m not sure if they would stay waterproof all day during heavy rain, but they work for my daily rides to school and such. You can always pay the extra if you do very long treks at a time.
When we leave for school at around 8 am, it is still very dark out (January) and my son has swimming and karate lessons in the evenings, so it’s incredibly important for us to be visible to other road users.
Unfortunately, the front lights of my cargo bike fell off at the beginning. I bought a new pair, but they fell off too. One of the downsides of my cargo bike I’m afraid. So to be seen in the dark I wear a LED hiking headlight and I also wear a reflective vest. My son, even though he is sitting in the cargo bike, also wears a reflective vest.
So this is how I protect myself from the crazy rain. It took me years to find the right gear and combination, but I’m all set now. The only thing missing is a good, waterproof bike bag. It has to be one that can fit on my Babboe bakfiets as the battery is at the back, so not all bags fit.
Today I will be writing a review for my Babboe e-curve cargo bike. The opinions are mine. I did not receive any earnings from this post, but as you will be able to read towards the end of my post, I have been compensated. Just not for writing this blog post. 😉
To be honest, I am a bit ashamed to say that I am a grown 41-year-old woman without a driver’s license.
I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in Belgium I only have one other friend without a driver’s license so I always end up having to explain to people why I don’t have one. I just never came round to it and I am actually a bit scared, but fingers crossed, I will be going for my theoretical exam (together with my 25-year-old daughter.
But even if I do pass, it will still be months before I have a full permit and even longer before I can afford a car. So, my cargo-bike is a must in my life.
I am since July 2017 the owner of the Babboe e-curve cargobike. I have 3335 km on it. It is my main way of transportation. I drive my son to school in it, I bring him to and from swimming classes, I do my groceries in it, I run my errands with it, I even drive it 30km (18miles) on Sunday’s to church (Antwerp) and back.
I want to make it clear that my views expressed in this post are entirely my own and entirely based on my experience with this cargobike. I have provided a link to the Babboe website above for anyone who wants to look them up. Nobody has asked me or paid me to write a review. My only aim in writing this is to help others who may be thinking of buying the Babboe e-curve cargobike.
I did some research beforehand, I found some helpful Facebook groups where I could read experiences from other users and I wish that I had taken their advice. There were many complaints (mainly about the spokes), but I really fell in love with the e-curve Babboe when I saw it during a test drive. I made up my mind that I wanted a three-wheeler, I wanted something that also looked pretty and because of my chronic pain, it needed the battery-powered pedal “assist”. One of the most well-known brands here in Belgium is the Babboe and I fell in love with the e-curve when I saw it.
When my cargobike got delivered (then you could only buy it online in Belgium and it was delivered 4 weeks later) I tried it out straight away of course and oh boy….it felt really weird driving it. I constantly felt like I was going to fall off. But I was determined to make it work and so I drove it 40km straight to our fixed camping spot and once I got there, I was a confident cargobike, or how they call it here, even my expat friends, a “bakfiets” driver. I loved it. My son loved it, heck, even my two Doxies love it.
But…a few weeks later the first problems arose, my brakes and lights. One brake was not working, the lights were not working and so I emailed Babboe. I also inquired about when the technician would come by for the first maintenance (included in the price we paid. I had already received an email asking me if I was satisfied with the services…for the services that I haven’t received yet). It took exactly a month before the technician came. My brakes were then finally fixed and I had received new lights. My bike was riding smoother than ever.
Then the rain cover poles broke. I emailed again, Babboe said that they were aware of the poor quality of the poles and that they were looking for a solution. In the meantime they would send me new poles. And they did, the wrong ones. Emailed them again and soon after I received the first pair or rain cover poles. But the rain cover poles have broken off 5 times during the 18 months that I have owned my e-curve.
Another issue, the wheel spokes. They too have been broken multiple times. This is apparently something that many, many Babboe owners have experienced. This is a pretty costly thing to have to happen regularly. One of my back spokes is even broken now.
And something they forget to tell you…not many bike repair shops repair your electrical cargo-bike, definitely if you have not bought it in their shop. I have two bike repair shops in walking distance of my house, but they have refused to repair my bike (one will repair the spokes but nothing else) and so I have had to rely on friends to pick me up and drop me off at another bike shop further away. Not very convenient. You can always book a maintenance and repair service at home from Babboe, but be prepared to wait many, many weeks and with a broken spoke, you need to get it repaired as soon as possible.
Oh yeah, and my battery, remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned biking 40km to our camping spot? (I still drove around with it for a few more days before I had to recharge the battery) . Well now (18 months later) the action radius is +-15km. I alternate between modes 3 and 4 and transporting one child who weighs 21kg, I weigh 70kg. My friend who owns an “e-big” bike from Babboe even bought a second battery because she could not make the trip to school and back with her kids. Not ok.
I have emailed Babboe again (I have emailed them 8 times) I feel like a complainer, but when you pay almost 2.500euro’s for a bike, you expect it to work properly. Customer service is very unsatisfactory and while they are polite, they are evasive. They say they will get back but they do not and so I have spent a few hundred euro’s to date on reparation costs.
I am writing this post, review, because I am just so very upset about the quality of my bike, while it looks great. My brakes broke again two days ago, I have yet again a broken spoke and it is making a funny sound while driving, I am worried that it’s the motor. The key to the battery of the bike is so thin that it has been bent beyond use and I will have to get a new key made today, otherwise, I will not be able to recharge the battery. I am a single mom on a very low income and I have no way to get it repaired again, let alone the money to buy a new one might this break down completely. It saddens me, I have really enjoyed driving it, my son loves it so much too and it has given us so much pleasure and freedom and I really need it, I just cannot do without and so I’m again praying for a miracle.
It is very pretty to look at. Classy.
The finishings are much nicer than the cheaper models. Especially the “leather” handles.
The display is nice and easy and it’s digital, so you know how far you can still drive before the battery runs out.
The rain cover (not the poles) is cute and you have velcro on the top for stopping it to flap down while children are getting in or out. You can also roll up sides on warmer days. It has to be -20c degrees here before my son wants the sides closed though.
Comfy seat for the driver.
The spokes, just the wheel, in general, is not strong enough for the cargobike according to two repair shops.
The battery. I know, I know that a battery loses it’s power the older it gets and by usage, but going from +-50km a year ago to 15km now…that’s ridiculous.
The rain cover polls break very easily.
The brakes…ugh, I find that the scariest.
The rear light is powered by a battery. The two front lights are powered by four AAA batteries between them. It would be great if the front lights were powered by the battery or dynamo powered. The front lights don’t give much light, plus you need to slide them on and off, meaning that they also easily slide off by themselves. I have lost one like that.
I want to again remind you, dear reader, that this has been my experience. I am not technical, so I cannot comment on the motor or stuff like that, I can only write about my experiences and how people have advised me. I advise you to do your research before buying your “bakfiets”. Go try some out or rent one for the day and even if you think that you would not be able to drive a two-wheeler bakfiets, try it out, it’s like riding a normal size bike. I wish that I had because I know now which one I would have bought then knowing what I know now.
Do you have a cargobike? Which one? I would love to hear about your experiences.
EDIT: 4 February 2019
Since writing this post about the Babboe e-curve cargo bike review, it has been shared around on social media and was the talk amongst my friends. My bike actually broke down, the crankshaft broke, leaving me in a bit of a predicament. But I am truly, truly blessed by all the wonderful people around me. People were texting me, asking if they could help with the groceries or if I needed them to bring my son to and from school. Then one mom in school even lent me her cargo bike!!! *happy dance* That was really a lifesaver for me. Thank you all again! Big love.
Now what happened next; Babboe contacted me through this blogpost and I finally got to speak to this very nice lady Aimée. She said that they (at Babboe) were very sorry for all the difficulties that I have been experiencing with the Babboe bakfiets and said that they will be sending me a technician who will hopefully be able to fix all the problems. A week later the technician came (again a very nice person who really enjoyed my coffee and cookies) and he made me a very happy mom again by :
replacing the whole rear wheel (due to the crankshaft)
new disk brake
new battery and charger
and tightened the brakes and bolts
For my lights, I can also visit a bike repair shop to get some new lights installed and Babboe will reimburse me.
So I practically have a new bike now, all done under warranty, thank goodness!!! We are again zooming all around town overjoyed by having our little piece of freedom back.
Thank you all for sharing my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.
EDIT 15th of April 2019:
So, my cargo bike has again, started to make funny noises. I’m afraid it’s the motor or something. So Babboe has gracefully proposed to replace my bike. They only do this when there have been many issues with a bike.
I am very grateful for this, it helps me to be independent, gives great joy to my son and me and I can continue to get groceries myself without having to rely on other people. It makes a big difference in our lives.
So thank you again Babboe, your generosity humbles me and alters my perception.
Thank you re-posters and thank you, dear friends, for sharing this post of my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.
EDIT 9th of August 2019
I was a bit late with this update but I am very very happy to say that since writing my latest update:
That we have been so blessed by receiving a BRAND NEW Babboe cargo bike!
*Insert party ballons here*
The sweet (patient) lady who had been trying to help me sort out the problems with our previous bike realized that the problems that I had been experiencing with the cargo bike were really abnormal.
So we started a new adventure with a new e-curve. Since June we’ve had our new bike and I’m glad to say that we have not had any problems yet. I’m not going to lie, I seem to be waiting for something to happen, but that’s just me. If you know me and my life, you will know that it’s just something that stems from the very unconventional life that I’ve had up to now.
So even though we did not have much luck with our first Bike, Babboe really came through for us and I really stand by my opinion that they’re practical, beautiful, and damn fun to ride. They can haul everything from babies to groceries, to large pieces of furniture. They make moving gear through traffic-choked cities faster, and more fun, than any big air polluting car. I’m totally smitten again!
Thank you Babboe and thank you all for reading and sharing my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.
Edit 14 January 2020
Since beginning September 2019, I have started to regularly experience flat tires. This has happened 9 times in total, 7 times it was my back tire.
It seems to happen for no apparent reason. A couple of times it had to do with the spokes breaking and puncturing the wheel. Other times have been just tiny holes. The Local bike shop has checked the outer wheel, there seems to be nothing there.
I have taken different bike routes, checked my garden for any debris, but it stays a mystery as to why I am getting so many flat tires. According to my repairman (and he guessed my bike was a Babboe without me even telling him), that this company, unfortunately, does not use the best quality and that it for sure is not made for the long distances and frequencies that I use it for and that he has had many clients of this make, with flat tires, bad batteries, and spokes breaking off.
So, maybe that is what it is. It’s a pretty bike, works well if not used for long distances.
Too bad for me I guess as I now have to look for another solution for getting my son to school and back. Making that a total of almost 25 km a day at least.