Not sure what to wear to cycle in the rain? There’s an app for that

App scopes out current and future weather conditions on your ride and offers up the perfect wardrobe

by Sarah Barth   March 22, 2014  

screenshot-what-to-wear

Ever woken up in time for a big ride but had no idea what to wear for the weather conditions? If so, there’s an app for that.

Combining a weather app with some handy cycling advice, the What To Wear Cycling app by developer Christopher Mullen translates temperatures and forecasts with your wardrobe.

To take full advantage of the app you’re going to need a pretty extensive wardrobe to choose from though, as the suggestions are pretty extensive.

If you’re riding in a group, just hit “Tell the Peloton” to email them all the same advice.

There’s even a slider to adjust to your personal preferences if you tend to run hotter or colder than other people.

It works at home or abroad, using your current location or a set one - and you can type in a set of weather conditions for a kit list.

What to Wear Cycling is currently available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, on iOS 7 or above. It can be downloaded here for £1.99.

It hasn’t been met by universal approval though.

Sustrans NE retweeted their response to the news:

38 user comments

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KiwiMike wrote:
If this app works, I don't *need* to choose - just read and do.

I do kind of think that "solutions" like this are detrimental to society in the long run, people are less able to use their own common sense.

My own system has been working well up to now anyway - I ask myself, what was yesterday like? Did I clothe myself adequately? How does today's weather compare to yesterday, will I need more or less clothes than I did yesterday?

I would argue that it's foolproof, but apps like this make me question my understanding of the term

posted by Nick T [781 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 12:08

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Can you imagine the legal liability for the app writer when the app tells you what to wear and it is wrong? Think about it - you have paid good money for some sophisticated software which analyses the weather and your wardrobe, and tells you what to wear. You go out in cold weather gear and it warms up. Or when you go out it is warm and then cools down. You are in the wrong clothes so what can you do? You blame the app of course!
Obviously the app will have a sign in page where you agree to absolve the author of all liability for errors and for not thinking for yourself.
Maybe there will be a module that helps prevent people cycling onto motorways too - oh wait, that's the common sense module which is usually turned off these days. Silly

posted by SimpleSimon [110 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 13:34

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Winter Kit/Summer kit? What about all the Spring/Autumn kit. The more kit the better.

This week was the "First Day of Spring" and the legs came out of wraps for the first time this year at least 1 of 5 days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szbB-vLVnoQ
epic


Leviathan of Riderstate

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posted by bikeboy76 [1238 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 14:02

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@KiwiMike: I actually *do* use this app, and quite often, as I have since I read about it on The Washing Machine Post. I've found it incredibly useful, mostly for taking the work out of sorting though options pre-ride at the break of dawn. I just check it and go. The £2 price is worth it just for that. Plus, I spend at least £2 per ride when you consider bars, gels, drink powder, and all that, and we all know where that ends up. I think the app really fills a need.

Oh, and apart from being a solid app, the guy who made it actually seems like a nice guy (imagine that) who apparently also rides. I noticed he and the Sustrans NE folks were quite silly about it when I looked at the Twitter link (Roadcc overplayed that a bit). He also answered a question (imagine that!) when I asked post-purchase through his site. All in all, I'm pleased.

posted by gummo [16 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 15:32

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gummo wrote:
@KiwiMike: I actually *do* use this app, and quite often, as I have since I read about it on The Washing Machine Post. I've found it incredibly useful, mostly for taking the work out of sorting though options pre-ride at the break of dawn. I just check it and go. The £2 price is worth it just for that. Plus, I spend at least £2 per ride when you consider bars, gels, drink powder, and all that, and we all know where that ends up. I think the app really fills a need.

Oh, and apart from being a solid app, the guy who made it actually seems like a nice guy (imagine that) who apparently also rides. I noticed he and the Sustrans NE folks were quite silly about it when I looked at the Twitter link (Roadcc overplayed that a bit). He also answered a question (imagine that!) when I asked post-purchase through his site. All in all, I'm pleased.

Really is a useful app and I don't get why people are reacting so negatively? That being said the guy who designed the app is a great guy, does ride, and will respond if you ask any questions. What more can you ask for?

posted by jarredscycling [436 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 16:03

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An Aqua Sapone Zebra skinsuit, Mapei socks and a Carrera denim cap?

Are you app-solutely sure?

Thinking

If you are really determined to heed the internets advice however, you could do so for FREE at:

http://www.bicycling.com/whattowear

posted by paulmcmillan [78 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 16:43

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Nick T wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:
If this app works, I don't *need* to choose - just read and do.

I do kind of think that "solutions" like this are detrimental to society in the long run, people are less able to use their own common sense.

My own system has been working well up to now anyway - I ask myself, what was yesterday like? Did I clothe myself adequately? How does today's weather compare to yesterday, will I need more or less clothes than I did yesterday?

I would argue that it's foolproof, but apps like this make me question my understanding of the term

My initial response was to say what a bunch of patronising BS, but that wouldn't be productive, so I won't.

*You* might well be 100% perfect at reading weather forecasts, maybe in unfamiliar places, calculating what you might need half a day in advance and probably totally counter to what the weather is like right now where you are, and have never, ever forgotten a useful bit of kit before a ride. Bully for you, life in the golden error-free perfect Velominatisphere of occasional enforced suffering must be a blast.

For those of us who occasionally don't pay uber-close attention to 24hr forecasts, or are prone to life getting in the way meaning we leave home without packing a gilet/raincape/set of liner gloves / whatever, an app like this could well be a good aide memoir to prompt you to pocket that extra bit of kit that will make the difference between misery and enjoyment.

As a commentor above noted, it's less than 50% of the cost of a coffee, to own it forever. No, you wouldn't use it if it was pissing down close to zero or a week-long 25-degree high. But in shoulder seasons with fast-moving fronts it could be a godsend.

Once again, Road.cc proves that cycling is indeed a broad church - including people prepared to be rude/condescending to others over something they are not forced to buy or use. If it works for others or might solve a problem they might occasionally have at zero impact/cost to you, why moan?

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [468 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 16:52

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KiwiMike wrote:

My initial response was to say what a bunch of patronising BS, but that wouldn't be productive, so I won't.

My initial response was to suggest you might want to stop taking a bit of banter on the internet quite so personally, but I then remembered that what we're actually discussing is an app that tells you how to put clothes on and it's kind of making me sad thinking about it.

posted by Nick T [781 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 17:48

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Nick T wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:

My initial response was to say what a bunch of patronising BS, but that wouldn't be productive, so I won't.

My initial response was to suggest you might want to stop taking a bit of banter on the internet quite so personally, but I then remembered that what we're actually discussing is an app that tells you how to put clothes on and it's kind of making me sad thinking about it.

Nick, in my view inferring someone lacks common sense and is a fool goes beyond 'banter' - amongst friends/colleagues maybe, but we are neither.

p.s. As you and a few others seem to have rather missed thepo pint here, to clarify: it's not an app to 'tell you how to put clothes on' - it's an apparently exhaustively-tuned and tested algorithm that takes input from weather forecasts (of which you may be unaware), matches against your personal temperature preferences and suggests suitable garb to ensure enhanced comfort across your ride.

http://www.thewashingmachinepost.net/what_to_wear/

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [468 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 18:21

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www.forecast.io (free) and the ability to think (free) highly recommended Wink

Can see this application having some use though, used with a pinch of salt and the ability to see it as 'suggestions' rather than fact. Which is the point, after all.

posted by andyp [851 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 18:29

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KiwiMike wrote:

Nick, in my view inferring someone lacks common sense and is a fool goes beyond 'banter' - amongst friends/colleagues maybe, but we are neither.

There you go again, taking it personally. I haven't directed anything towards you, other than the replies that include quotes, just airing my opinion as anyone is entitled to. If you get use out this app, great. I'm happy.

Algorithms is a bit grandiose for what essentially "it's 5C - wear a base layer and it's going rain at 11:30 so take a gilet". I could knock up an app on the Spectrum that does pretty much the same thing Wink

posted by Nick T [781 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 18:56

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I suppose this may be useful to someone who doesn't ride much, but then they're not likely to have a huge cycling wardrobe, are they? In other words....chocolate teapot.

posted by nortonpdj [18 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 19:13

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Nick T wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:

Nick, in my view inferring someone lacks common sense and is a fool goes beyond 'banter' - amongst friends/colleagues maybe, but we are neither.

There you go again, taking it personally. I haven't directed anything towards you, other than the replies that include quotes, just airing my opinion as anyone is entitled to. If you get use out this app, great. I'm happy.

Algorithms is a bit grandiose for what essentially "it's 5C - wear a base layer and it's going rain at 11:30 so take a gilet". I could knock up an app on the Spectrum that does pretty much the same thing Wink

Sure. If you read the TWMP review including interview with the developer, you'll see it is indeed an algorithm. It takes various inputs including your personal hot/cold preference, factors in wind chill, sun/cloud/rain, temperature, and gives a result in optimal clothing.

I think Brian nails it in terms of the wisdom of pelotons/crowds: it's hit and miss even for the most experienced. He'll, look at the number of Cyclist mag articles where the Big Ride author suffers miserably as a result of misjudging local conditions in an unfamiliar place. This not only removes a lot of guesswork, it removes the likelihood of forgetting/brainfade.

It is interesting seeing this be used as a proxy willy-waving contest. OK, *fine*: anyone who hates the idea is clearly a much more expereinced, better-equipped 'cyclist' with a mind like a steel trap Smile

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [468 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 20:08

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Gents, you are trying a little too hard to convince the world they need advice on how to dress.
I'm sure the developer is a thoroughly nice chap and your support for his work will be appreciated right up to the point you come across as a plonker, then he may wish you kept out of it.

So there's an app it tells you to wear a vest or not, it's very clever, some may like it others won't.

Can't really be much else to say?

posted by IanW1968 [152 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 22:02

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I like the idea of this. I do check the weather, I try to plan ahead, but sometimes I forget stuff. If it's written down then all I need to do is check stuff off at 6am when my brain is fuzzy.

In the main I usually get it right, but something which saves you the work is no bad thing. My kit is extensive and covers most conditions, and those it doesn't, I can double up on, but it's nice to know that your estimate on conditions will be matched.

Kiwi-Mike: I think you're right to take a bit of offence. People think it is fair game to come out with snidey sarcasm instead of debating the issues. Too easy to knock something than properly engage with an argument.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1112 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 22:53

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Wow. Who knew this would be so contentious?

IanW1968, you captured my view perfectly. I completely agree with you.

As for me, I can barely boil water at 6am, much less decide what I'm going to settle on when I'm about to spend a few hours on my bike. The app helps.

And if I don't agree with the app (which I really haven't yet since playing with the temperature tuning), I get the final say anyhow.

£2 well spent.

posted by gummo [16 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 2:37

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I've over heated badly doing the Etape du Tour. I've had to stop at a garage at the bottom on the Horseshoe Pass when it turned so rainy that my gloves were not sufficient and I got frozen fingers which were unbearable. I've mistaken a bright sunny April day for going to warm up as I rode but it never did until the last 30 mins of a 4hr tide, so I froze in 3/4s and arm warmers.

I've made mistakes in my 25yrs of riding, and I still occasionally make mistakes. Yes, most of the time I get it right (ish) but if this app was on Android it might be of interest. It's £2 & no one is forcing any one to buy it so god knows why some people are being so negative.

Now, does anyone have a view to whether I should buy a new car or not???

posted by bikerdavecycling [71 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 9:04

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I think it needs an additional algorithm developed by Simon Mottram and Gok Wan that analyses the whims of contemporary fashion, the colour of your bike, length of stubble (men and women, face and/or legs) and whether its a Shoreditch fixie or a Surrey Pinarello vibe you want, to ensure you're always 'on trend'

Cool

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 9:37

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I don't like the cold and hate being wet, so I need an app to find a hobby more suited to my needs than cycling.

The problem with this app is the inaccuracy of weather forecasts. I checked last night before putting my kit ready for this morning and was expecting heavy showers. Still waiting for the rain to break through the sunshine Confused

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posted by Crosshouses [178 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 13:19

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Laughing

posted by SimpleSimon [110 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 14:45

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I love this idea of people paying for an app like this. It reaffirms my belief in the stupidity of the human race.
Totally cheered me up.

posted by belgravedave [167 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 15:01

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Well the app own today. I chose to ignore the need to include a rain cape and it rained. Actually, I got wet, but it wasn't too bad.

But other riders got it badly wrong today - fingerless gloves and shorts. The shorts weren't so much the problem, but they were complaining about the gloves.

It works and it saves the guess work. You don't have to obey it, it is just a guide.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1112 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 16:33

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First time using the app 8am yesterday morning. The forecast said there might be rain in the afternoon, but it was sunny and dry setting out. The app said 'wear everything' - lobster mitts, boots, Roubaix tights, full-on jacket - the works. Now going on my experience of 6,000km+ riding in a 50-mile radius each year and paying close attention to the Met Office weather app and rain radar, I'd have normally gone one layer down - normal tights, or two layers of gloves, maybe a baselayer, long jersey and gilet, eschewing the boots. There was a modicum of gentle mockage from my riding partner.

Boy, am I glad I followed the app's advice.

After 3hrs of riding in increasingly nice weather, getting a bit warm with 13 degrees and intermittent sunshine but nothing that couldn't be unzipped away, shit got real. Within a 15 minute period the temperature went from 13 to *zero*, wind picked up from 10 to 30MPH, and biblical proportions of hail and sleet descended - enough to make drifts on exposed road corners. This went on for the last 20k. I am 100% certain based on bitter previous cold/wet experience that had I not been wearing the lobster mitts I would have had to stop or slow dramatically as the ability to shift/brake would have left my useless, clawed hands.

Now I'm the first to say the plural of anecdote is not data. But this happened.

Photo 23-03-2014 11 57 43.jpg

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [468 posts]
24th March 2014 - 11:04

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Since I don't own lobster mitts, nondoflex leggies, Roubaix panties or cycling boots ( tbh I don't even know what that stuff is) how am I supposed to react to the apps advice.

My wardrobe is short sleeve jersey(summer) long sleeve(winter), base layer, vest, arm warmers, gloves(winter), long bibs ( winter) short bibs ( summer), wool buff. Most of which goes with me in the appropriate season even if I don't wear it.

I'm not sure how I would react to being told I needed to buy a load of new stuff, the above has served me well for a long time.

@mike, do you know the developer?

posted by IanW1968 [152 posts]
24th March 2014 - 23:38

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IanW1968 wrote:
Since I don't own lobster mitts, nondoflex leggies, Roubaix panties or cycling boots ( tbh I don't even know what that stuff is) how am I supposed to react to the apps advice.

My wardrobe is short sleeve jersey(summer) long sleeve(winter), base layer, vest, arm warmers, gloves(winter), long bibs ( winter) short bibs ( summer), wool buff. Most of which goes with me in the appropriate season even if I don't wear it.

I'm not sure how I would react to being told I needed to buy a load of new stuff, the above has served me well for a long time.

@mike, do you know the developer?

Do you struggle with eating food when it has a picture of a suggested serving? I'm sure you could manage to pick out the appropriate bits of clothing from your list which most closely resemble those on the 'suggested' clothing list.

If it said lobster mitts I would know that it was going to be very cold and either layer my existing gloves, or take my warmest at least....

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1112 posts]
25th March 2014 - 0:12

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So I have to reverse the apps suggestion back into a ....er weather app??

posted by IanW1968 [152 posts]
25th March 2014 - 9:18

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IanW1968 wrote:
Since I don't own lobster mitts, nondoflex leggies, Roubaix panties or cycling boots ( tbh I don't even know what that stuff is) how am I supposed to react to the apps advice.

My wardrobe is short sleeve jersey(summer) long sleeve(winter), base layer, vest, arm warmers, gloves(winter), long bibs ( winter) short bibs ( summer), wool buff. Most of which goes with me in the appropriate season even if I don't wear it.

I'm not sure how I would react to being told I needed to buy a load of new stuff, the above has served me well for a long time.

@mike, do you know the developer?

No, I don't know the developer from Adam (his name might even be Adam).

Re not having the suggested kit, I think it's recommending best-practice kit that anyone seeking to do lengthy rides in bad weather (or in the UK, 'weather') really should own to be comfortable. I've only recently become an arm/leg warmer owner, and procured my first set of lobster mitts (Sealskinz) this winter. What a revelation on both fronts - I really wish I'd spent the £100 on the three bits of kit a decade ago. Ditto a gilet to pair with the arm warmers. Hell, I only got some neoprene overshoes ('boots') 2 winters ago when I started doing serious wet-weather miles. Best £20 I ever spent.

Now there are people out there who simply don't need lobster mitts, for example - they either don't ride in extreme cold, or are quite comfy in close-to-zero with fingerless string gloves. One of our club regulars hardly ever wears gloves - I know that if he's gloved-up, I need to be wearing a duvet Smile

At the other end of the spectrum you have me - 6' tall, 73kg and miserable-to-borderline-incapacitated if the sun goes behind a cloud. What different people find 'comfortable' when cycling across different appendages and core seems to bear absolutely no rationale or logic.

The app will suggest up to what most would consider decent kit for a 'cold' rider like myself. If you are a 'hot' rider, then if the personal slider is set right the app won't be suggesting things like lobster mitts, balaclavas or Roubaix fleece to begin with.

Having a play around with the app, the suggested kit does change based on your hot/cold preference. Basically if you are still cold, you need to shift the slider along a bit and maybe up your kit game until you find the balance. If you want to enjoy ride in colder conditions you'll need to invest.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [468 posts]
25th March 2014 - 9:38

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I really can't comprehend why people are having their shit gripped by this app. It's a weather app that's been tailored to display the results in a way the purchaser of the app would like them.

If you prefer millibars or hectopascals or whatever then, you know, "there's an app for that".

You may not own claw gloves or overshoes or any other dedicated deep winter or foul weather gear but I do. You may be tough as boots and can just ride regardless but I ride to work everyday and can't afford to let weather beat me so I dress accordingly.

posted by farrell [1388 posts]
25th March 2014 - 10:35

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For the record, the developer's name is Christopher. It says this in the actual article that we're all commenting on, but apparently people are posting without actually reading the article.

I don't get the anger, either. I came back here to forward the link over to a friend in Belgium (now *that's* a place with challenging weather), and saw the volume of new posts. So bizarre! The app really is pretty great. And the guy who made it does seem like a decent and clever guy, and he's knows a lot about cycling. He's made something very useful for fellow riders--why get so annoyed by that?

It's one of the cheapest cycling products I've bought, and I'm really glad to have it.

posted by gummo [16 posts]
26th March 2014 - 15:41

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The comments on the What To Wear Cycling app are both hilarious and sad. Hilarious because way too many commenters are in an uproar over a £1.99 app. We are talking about £1.99, right? But seriously, it's not about the £1.99, is it? It's that somebody made an app centered around your precious sport of cycling and dared to charge for it.

Yeah, we're on the sad part now. Sad to continue to have to defend cycling against the all-too-acurate rap that the sport is overrun by sanctimonious social retards. We call them douche bags in the states and it's one of the reasons good people stay away from cycling. Can anyone out there shed light on why cycling attracts so many paranoid and defensive types? Bottom line: keep your £1.99 and keep pedaling in another direction because no one likes you. Okay, I'm done. You may now attack me.

posted by KramNellum [1 posts]
8th April 2014 - 19:35

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