Rain cover inventions such as an umbrella, already existed before the common era. The umbrella is very useful because it is easy and quick to use, providing relatively good rain protection. For example, nowadays we have a “Senz” umbrella for the windy weather and storm. The reason why we can use it is because we can hold it in our hands and keep it stable during the storm, simple as that. Unfortunately, this is very inconvenient while biking in the rain. The modern inventions such as attachable bike umbrellas provide weak protection during heavy weather. There are retractable bike roofs (e.g. Veltop), but they are relatively expensive, not wind proof and too difficult to setup.
That’s why most people use a poncho while biking in the rain. It is low cost, you stay completely dry, no problems even during a hurricane. However, a lot of people would agree that it is uncomfortable and -let’s face it- looks ridiculous. This triggers the following question. Is the poncho the best solution for biking in the rain? To investigate this interesting issue, we started a project by reviewing existing solutions and proposing new concepts of “bike roof/bike umbrella” for discussion and evaluation purposes.
Rain Rider vs. Poncho
We found out that there are many factors and requirements, which need to be addressed. For example: usability, safety, comfort, compatibility, weight, durability, design simplicity, costs, level of rain protection, and so on… Then we questioned ourselves whether the product can be foldable and detachable. Or not. The final concept – “Rain Rider” umbrella, was the closest in terms of satisfying all the requirements and facing severe design contradictions. Could it beat the poncho?
No. First of all, it looks weird (weirder than the poncho?). Is it safer, when you can’t even clear your eyes blinded by the rain drops, because your arms are trapped in the umbrella-like shape. In fact, this concept can be seen as a huge umbrella which can be also used while biking. The umbrella is lightweight and rests on your shoulders. The possibility to cycle during the windy and rainy weather, still remains an assumption. For example, what would happen if the wind would blow under the umbrella?
However, what’s nice about this concept, is that it’s foldable and easy to use. Oh well, even that depends on how you look at it… Let’s conclude that it’s an interesting concept, but, in real life, it can not beat the poncho! It’s extremely difficult to design a perfect rain protection system which is compatible with our standard bicycle. It means that redesigning the poncho would result in integration of rain-protection and the bike, which is not the case for the poncho. Design can be challenging, especially when you want to improve a piece of plastic with a hole for your head…