29
Apr

In search of an all-weather bike

I ride my bike whenever I can. For me, it's a means of transportation more than anything else. I ride it to get to university; I ride it to get to work; sometimes I even ride it to get to social events. Cycling is a great way to keep fit, to be environmentally friendly, and to enjoy the (reasonably) fresh air.

But quite often, due to adverse weather, cycling is simply not an option. Plenty of people may disagree with me, but I'm sure that plenty will also agree strongly when I say that riding in heavy rain is no fun at all.

There are all sorts of problems with riding in the rain, some being more serious than others. First, there's the problem of you and your cargo getting wet. This can be avoided easily enough, by putting a waterproof cover on your cargo (be it a backpack, saddle bags, or whatever), and by wearing waterproof gear on your person (or by wearing clothes that you don't mind getting wet). Then there's the problem of skidding and having to ride more carefully, which really you can't do much about (even the big pollution machines, i.e. cars, that we share the road with, are susceptible to this problem). And finally, there's the problem of the bike itself getting wet. In particular, problems arise when devices such as the brakes, the chain, and the derailleur are exposed to the rain. This can be averted somewhat by using fenders, or mudguards, to protect the vital mechanical parts of the bike.

But really, all of these are just little solutions to little problems. None of them comes close to solving the big problem of: how can you make your riding experience totally weatherproof? That's what I'm looking for: one solution that will take care of all my problems; a solution that will protect me, my bag, and almost all of my bike, in one fell swoop. What I need is...

A roof for my bike!

But does such a thing exist? Has anyone ever successfully modified their bike, so that it has a kind of roof and side bits that can protect you from the elements? Surely there's someone else in this world as chicken of the rain as me, but also a little more industrious and DIY-like than me?

The perfect solution, in my opinion, would be a kind of plastic cover, that you could attach to a regular diamond-frame bike, and that would allow you to ride your bike anywhere that you normally would, only with the added benefit of protection from the rain. It would be a big bubble, I guess, sort of like an umbrella for you and your bike. Ideally, it would be make of clear plastic, so that you could see out of it in all directions. And it would be good if the front and side sections (and maybe the back too - and the roof) were flaps that you could unzip or unbutton, to let in a breeze when the weather's bad but not torrential. The 'bubble cover' would have to be not much wider than the handlebars of your bike - otherwise the bike becomes too wide to ride down narrow paths, and the coverage of the bike (i.e. where you can take it) becomes restricted.

If it exists, I thought, then surely it'll be on Google. After all, as the ancient latin saying goes: "In Googlis non est, ergo non est" (translation: "If it's not in Google, it doesn't exist"). So I started to search for words and phrases, things that I hoped would bring me closer to my dream of an all-weather bike.

Playing hard to get

I searched for "all-weather bike". Almost nothing. "Weatherproof bike". Almost nothing. "Bike roof". A whole lot of links to bicycle roof racks for your car. "Bike roof -rack". Yielded a few useless links. "Bike with roof". Barely anything. "Waterproof cover +bicycle". Heaps of links to covers that you can put on your bike, to keep it dry when it's lying in the back yard. But no covers that you can use while you're riding the bike.

I was a bit disappointed, but I wasn't going to give up yet. If my dream contraption was going to play hard to get, then I decided I'd just have to keep searching. "Waterproof cover + while riding". Almost nothing. "Bicycle hood". No better. "Roof on my bike". Hardly anything. "Rain cover bicycle". Same result. "Bike canopy". Worst results yet.

This was getting ridiculous. Surely if there was something out there, I would have found it by now? Could it be true that nobody in the whole world had made such a device, and published it on the web? No, it couldn't be! This is the information age! There are over 6 billion people in the world, and as many as 20% of them (that's over 1.2 billion people) have access to the Internet. What are the odds that not even 1 person in 1.2 billion has done this?

I must be searching for the wrong thing, I thought. I looked back to my last search: "bike canopy". What else has a canopy? I know! A golf buggy! So maybe, I thought, if I search for information about golf buggies / carts, I'll find out what the usual word is for describing roofs on small vehicles. So I searched for golf buggies. And I found one site that described a golf buggy with a roof as an 'enclosed vehicle'. Ooohhh... enclosed, that sounds like a good word!

So I searched for "enclosed bike". A whole lot of links about keeping your bike enclosed in lockers and storage facilities. Fine, then: "enclosed bike -lockers". Got me to an article about commuting to work by bike. Intersting article, but nothing in it about enclosing your bike.

Velomobiles

Also, further down in the list of results, was the amazing go-one. This is what a go-one looks like:

Go-one velomobile

Go-one velomobile

Now, if that isn't the coolest bike you've ever seen, I don't know what is! As soon as I saw that picture, I thought: man, I want that bike.

The go-one is actually a tricycle, not a bicycle. Specifically, it's a special kind of trike called a recumbent trike. Recumbents have a big comfy seat that you can sit back and relax in, and you stick your feet out in front of you to pedal. Apparently, they're quite easy to ride once you get used to them, and they can even go faster than regular bikes; but I don't see myself getting used to them in a hurry.

The go-one is also a special kind of trike called a velomobile. Velomobiles are basically regular recumbents, with a solid outer shell whacked on the top of them. Almost all the velomobiles and velomobile makers in the world are in Europe - specifically, in the Netherlands and in Germany. But velomobiles are also beginning to infiltrate into the USA; and there's even a velomobile called the Tri-Sled Sorcerer that's made right here in Australia!

Here's a list of some velomobile sites that I found whilst surfing around:

IHPVA velomobile page
Information about velomobiles from the International Human Powered Vehicles Association. This is the body that officially governs velomobile use worldwide. Has many useful links.
North American Velomobilist website
Cool pictures of velomobiles, links to home-grown velomobile projects, and even a velomobile mailing list.
Velomobile USA
The guys that manufacture velomobiles in the USA. Their marketing slogan is 'pedal yourself healthy'.
The Velomobile Is Comin' To Town
Interesting article about velomobiles, with many nice pictures of the more popular European brands.
BentRider Velomobile guide
This site is dedicated to recumbents of all types. This article surveys pretty much every velomobile currently available on the commercial market - great if you're looking to get the low-down on all the models. Only bad thing is that half the images are broken.

Velomobiles are the closest thing (and the only thing that comes close at all) to my dream of an enclosed bike. There's no doubt that they shield you from the elements. In fact, most of them have been designed specifically as a replacement for travelling by car. However, there are a few disadvantages that would make them unsuitable for my needs:

  • Too heavy: can't just lift them up and carry them over railings, up steps, etc.
  • Too wide: only really suitable for roads, not for footpaths (sidewalks), narrow lanes, and even some bike tracks.
  • Too expensive: all the currently available velomobiles are really quite expensive. The go-one is one of the pricier ones, with a starting price of 9500 Euro (almost AUD$16,000!), but even the cheaper ones are at least AUD$5,000. Until velomobiles start to come down in price, there's no way that I could afford one.

Still hopeful

I've decided to stop searching for my dream enclosed bike - it looks like the velomobile is the closest I'm going to get to finding it. But who knows? Maybe I still haven't looked in the right places. I don't need something like a velomobile, which is pretty much a pedal-powered car. All I'm looking for is a simple waterproof bubble that can be fitted to a regular bike. I still believe that someone out there has made one. It's just a matter of finding him/her.

If any of you know of such a device, please, post a comment to this article letting me know about it. If I actually find one, I might even try it out!

Comments are closed

Comments

30
Apr
2005
you know who at home

Haven't got a solution to your problem 'though one was shown on TV recently with a sort of extendable umbrella attached to the saddle. Would be a good sun protector, and give some protection from rain.

Meanwhile - it would be good to find a solution to your problem, especially, bearing in mind that cycling has extensive benefits -

Benefits of Bicycle Transportation

* Bicycles are almost completely pollution-free vehicles: No air, water or noise pollution.
* Bicycles do not reduce security by using imported oil.
* Bicycles emit no greenhouse gasses.
* Although bicycles give very little protection in an accident, bicycles are much less a threat to the safety of bystanders than motor vehicles.
* Bicycles take up much less space on the road and for parking than other vehicles.

* Cycling promotes health.

..but some work situations overcome the necessity for fitness programmes. Their workers get enough exercise by
* jumping to conclusions
* flying off the handle (not handle bars)
* running down the boss
* knifing others in the back
* dodging responsibility and

* pushing their luck

31
Aug
2005
A friend attached a "roof" to his Recumbent Trike with good results. It was more for sun protection than rain, but it seemed to be useful. Not quite as sexy as a velomobile body to be sure. but you CAN build a body from "Coroplast" or "Coroflute" which is basically plastic corrugated material (like cardboard, but plastic)that will help protect you from weather and make the bike faster.

mark

11
Oct
2005

Build one yourself!

http://www.recumbents.com/m...

08
Nov
2005
windchill

Search for Full Fairings and you will find what you are looking for. I once was researching human powered vehicles and kept coming across the word fairing and didn't have a clue what it meant. I eventually found out that they were bike coverings. Partial Fairings are like wind screens and full fairings cover the entire bike. there are manufacturers like Zzip and also examples of home made ones. They are usually made out of tent-like material.

18
Jan
2006

This looks close to what you are looking for: http://www.alternatives.com...

02
Apr
2006
Markus Demarkus
I took a P500 Meridia electric bike and built a monokote shell over it. I use it for eye catching at our political rallies while fighting the toll roads and petitioning in Texas. The front acrylic windshield deflects rain droplets around the rider. Visibility in rain is good because the windshield angle is too sharp for droplets to stay. It is wonderful protection against the sun. Wind is no problem.
It is not powerful enough to easily go up sharp hills (like where I live), so I am planning another version using a more powerful motor and a few more gears. I am drawing up plans so people can build it themselves if they are handy. Another version to be fitted on a typical bike.
Bicycles will soon be king in Texas since people are moving closer to work to avoid the toll road hell coming our way. Foolish short-sighted politicians.

Email me for pictures.

19
Jul
2006

Hi there Markus

I am keen to see your pictures of the canopy you made.

Kind Regards

Bevan
Auckland

New Zealand

09
Oct
2006

I currently have an Ezee Sprint electric bike and I'm looking to either cover it for rain riding, or get another similar electric powered but enclosed vehicle for riding around NYC traffic. Please send photos to mmre00@gmail.com!

19
Oct
2006
Jason Fell

Pics for me too? Thanks.

Jason Fell

Boulder, CO

26
Nov
2006
greg snider

Hello Markus, I am interested in what you devised- I put a front fairing on my burley koosah and would like to extend over the top. Need to know where to purchase material and a few ideas on the build would be great. If you have a photo available please feel free to email me. Thanks, Greg Snider (Gizmo)

13
Jan
2007

We have several velomobile project descriptions hosted on our Home-Builder Gallery pages at Velomobiling.net / Velomobiling.com . See also this lovely Coroplast project, which was discussed on Bentrideronline.

13
Jan
2007
THERE IS A BICYCLE CANOPY(COPYRIGHTED) THAT WAS INVENTED IN THE 1970'S (SEE: WWW.MAXPAGES.COM/DEVONEMFGCO75). THIS PRODUCT APPEARED IN THE DURHAM HERALD-SUN, DURHAM, NC, TUESDAY, Oct. 14, 1975, Page B-1, and the Greensboro Daily News, Page B-3, BOTH DAILY NEWSPAPERS, AS WELL AS IN A NATIONAL MAGAZINE. THE UNITED STATES PATENT WAS GRANTED ON AUG. 30, 1977, U.S. PATENT NO. 4, 045,077(INVENTOR: JAMES DEVONE). IN ADDITION, SEVERAL FOREIGN PATENTS HAVE BEEN APPLIED FOR.

IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO ACQUIRE A LICENCE TO MAKE, USE, SELL AND ADVERTISE THIS PRODUCT, CONTAACT: JAMES M. DE VONE, SR., POB 51216-2916, DURHAM, NC 27717 USA. E-MAIL: JAMES_DEVONE@YAHOO.COM.

23
Jan
2009
Beaverguide

I too have the same problem with the weather. The best I could find was this site

http://www.cab-bike.com/

I haven't got one yet though.

aa

14
May
2009
Isabel Bel

My boyfriend designed and had a custom "bike cover" made and installed on his Grandfather's electric bike. It's the funniest looking thing I have ever seen and is basically a bubble on top of a bike. It does not offer protection for the feet but pretty much covers everything else. Maybe he can design one for you if you still haven't found a solution to your problem.

Chiga Cheowww

22
Jul
2009

I ride my bike all year round, and since I live in Canada that means I have to bundle up quite a bit in the winter! When temperatures dip below 5 Celsius or so, I put my "summer" helmet back on the shelf and reach for my custom modified all-weather helmet. It's so effective that despite my mostly bald head I don't need to wear a hat underneath, even at temperatures down to -20C at speeds in excess of 40 km/h (tested and confirmed!)

The All-Weather Helmet is also completely waterproof, so it's great to have when it's raining, sleeting, or snowing.

Virtually any helmet can be modified into an all-weather helmet, the only requirement is that the plastic decorative shell can be removed.

08
Oct
2009
TeixeiraMarco

I have looked for it sometime ago. I do agree that it's a hard work, but yes it really exists !! take a look at:

http://www.velotop.com/

and

http://www.veltop.com

Regards