Bicycle Rain Protection

bicycle rain canopy

We just spotted this new rain canopy for cycling here in (rainy) Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its similar in principle to the partially covered scooters popular in Paris. Perhaps somebody developed the bicycle canopy out of frustration resulting from the constant rain this summer. There have only been a handful of sunny days in the past months.

Using a car in Dutch cities is hopelessly inconvenient and expensive so most people commute, do their errands and transport their kids by bike. Rain, thus, has little effect on whether people cycle or not. .. but that doesn’t actually make us enjoy cycling in the rain.

Bicycles with complete mudguards (“fenders” for you in America) protect the rider and passenger(s) from dirty road spray, but rain still falls from the sky. Until now its been a choice between rain suit, cycling poncho or umbrella to stay dry, or just accept getting wet. Unless its really raining hard the rain suit seems too much trouble. Carrying an umbrella for short cycling trips can actually work if you don’t also need to carry something else (flowers, grocery bags…) or talk on your mobile phone. But if its windy you can forget about the umbrella. Cycling ponchos unfortunately only work on bicycles with a sportive sitting position where you lean over the handlebars, and not on upright dutch bikes.

So the bicycle canopy would theoretically fill a niche somewhere between the other rain protection options. Cute idea, and quite nicely executed according to my colleague who saw it. Aside from looking somewhat silly the canopy would probably work about as promised. Add some Rain-Legs to keep your thighs dry and you’d be well protected from the elements. As a bonus the canopy would even provide some protection for a front child seat.

A couple questions though:

  1. What do you do with the canopy when you park the bike?
  2. How will it affect handling and efficiency in the Dutch gale-force winds?
  3. Can it be stowed when not needed?
  4. How easy and quickly can it be deployed and stowed?
  5. Why is the fellow in the photo using the canopy on a perfectly nice day?
  6. Will there be a pimped out version with tinted windows?
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27 Responses to “Bicycle Rain Protection”

  1. Mark Stosberg Says:

    Thanks for the post, Henry.

    I’ve been following Dutch bike culture online, but I’ve found little about what the Dutch cyclists do when it rains.

    It sounds like there may also be a market for stealth commuting rain pants.

    As for me…my bakfiets arrives from Amsterdam via Florida to here in Richmond, Indiana tomorrow!

    Mark

  2. henry Says:

    Hi Mark,
    As a whole the Dutch are surprisingly nonchalant about bicycling in the rain. For example, unless its really raining hard you’ll rarely see rainpants in the city. Many don’t even wear rain jackets, braving the elements in leather or woollen jackets wth gritted teeth. I wasn’t kiddding above, where I wrote about the umbrellas. In the countryside where the distances are greater (and pressure to be stylish lower) cyclists wear rainsuits.

    Happy cycling on your bakfiets!

    Groeten,
    Henry

  3. Tristan Says:

    Hello !
    It’s my Veltop !
    I’ve shown it you during my holidays in Amsterdam…
    For more informations, go to my veltop test on my page http://velocoque.free.fr/spip.php?article27 .

  4. henry Says:

    Bonjour Tristan,
    Thanks for finding the post and adding your note. Actually you spoke with my employees at WorkCycles while I was away. I didn’t see it myself and could not find your literature so apparently… its the Veltop, folks!

    Do check out Tristan’s site where they show all about the Veltop with many better photos than the one above here.

    -Henry

  5. Tristan Says:

    … But I can answer (I’m french, so…)

    1. What do you do with the canopy when you park the bike?
    >> When you park the bike, 2 solutions:
    - do nothing and lock the bike on a top point.
    - dismantled it, and take two parts of it

    2. How will it affect handling and efficiency in the Dutch gale-force winds?
    >> small surface, so not a problem

    3. Can it be stowed when not needed?
    >> Yes, in 3 parts.

    4. How easy and quickly can it be deployed and stowed?
    >> 2 or 3 minutes
    You can see videos on the constructor’s website

    5. Why is the fellow in the photo using the canopy on a perfectly nice day?
    >> It was a demonstration !! :o)

    6. Will there be a pimped out version with tinted windows?
    >> I don’t think… When it rains, the weather is dark, no ?

    Go to http://velocoque.free.fr/spip.php?article27 for pictures and links !

  6. Tristan Says:

    Oh, Henry: you are “Mister Bakfiets” ?
    ok :o)

    For information, “Mister Veltop” will come to Amsterdam in few day’s…
    Contact him !

  7. henry Says:

    Bonsoir Tristan,
    Thanks for all the extra explanation, and for having a sense of humour. We look forward to seeing your again in Amsterdam. Please choose a rainy day so that we can make proper photos of your rain protection canopy keeping a happy cyclist dry. Then I’ll write a follow-up post to exclaim the success!

    Groet,
    Henry

  8. Tristan Says:

    When I travel, the rain doesn’t be my main motivation :D
    I live in south of France !

    You should ask to “Mister Veltop” to bring you a demo. Veltop model.

    After, you could test rain protection on your bike, or tricycle.

    I like pose for foto, but… ;o)

  9. Dirk Says:

    Hello,

    is that rain protection canopy available in the Netherlands/Belgium ? Where can you buy it ?
    Nice idea !!

    grts,
    Dirk

  10. henry Says:

    Dirk,
    Veltop now has a commercial site:
    http://www.veltop.eu

    You can find a handful of Dutch dealers there.

    Groeten,
    Henry

  11. DrMekon Says:

    Did you ever try one of these on a cargobike? How did it work out?

  12. henry Says:

    No we haven’t really tested the canopy beyond a quick spin around the block. It would certainly be impressively ugly in combination with the Cargobike’s child canopy!

  13. DrMekon Says:

    I think it would look cool, but I have skinny white legs and big combat shorts on, so am probably not the best person to judge.

  14. henry Says:

    I think the Veltop canopy would look very different from the inside anyway. Only in reflections would you see your skinny legs!

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  26. James M, DeVone, Sr. Says:

    You are invited to see a WORKABLE “BICYCLE TOP”, that have FUNCTIONS OTHER THAN ASSISTING TO PROTECT THE CYCLIST AND/OR OTHER RIDERS FROM THE SUN AND/OR RAIN. GO TO: http://www.Ebay.com and see, “BICYCLE CANOPY” (The one With the “Blue” Top”. Or telephone: (919)430-1508. Mail To: DeVone Mfg. Co., Inc(1975), POB 51216-2916, Durham, NC 27717.

  27. James M, DeVone, Sr. Says:

    To see a WORKABLE “Bike Top”, go to http://www.Ebay.com or, http://www.global.ebay.com and see: “Bicycle Canopy” (The one with the “Blue” top). For additional LICENSING INFORMATION, contact: James DeVone, Sr., DeVone Mfg. Co., Inc(1975), POB 51216-2916, Durham, NC 27717 USA . Telephone No. (919)430-1508.

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