It doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. While some startups are working on developing fully-enclosed bicycles that offer protection from the elements, Smart Mobility Solutions from Italy has been working on an umbrella for your bicycle. Well, it’s actually a windshield with a front section of a roof, but it deploys exactly like an umbrella whenever it starts raining.
The idea is simple: if you’re a pedestrian and it starts to rain, you open your umbrella for protection and continue on your way. You obviously can’t – or shouldn’t – ride while holding an actual umbrella, so here’s where the BikerTop comes in.
When not in use, BikerTop presents itself like a compact bag that attaches to the front of the bike, on the handlebars. You can even lock it in place, to warn off thieves when you park your bicycle. If you’re caught in a downpour, all you have to do is open the bag and fold out the two aluminum vertical support arms, which extend telescopically along with a flexible rain shield.
The shield comes with an incorporated polyurethane “screen” and is made of waterproof nylon, with side mesh “wings” and reflective glass beads for better visibility at night. The shield offers protection in the front and immediately above, but based on the video available at the bottom of the page, you should probably not expect to get to your destination completely dry. Much like with an umbrella, for that matter.
Moreover, the top will still enable you to hit 35 kph (22 mph) on your bike without a problem. As for visibility, you shouldn’t worry about the lack of wipers on the polyurethane screen: most scooters don’t have wipers either, the makers say. Videos shot during rainy tests reveal that visibility remains good, as water tends to immediately trickle off the screen. At the very best, it’s an improvement over riding in the rain with a hood over your head and your glasses covered in water spots.
Another plus about the BikerTop highlighted by the makers is that the bag can hold some of your smaller possessions for safe storage even when you’re using the top. There’s a special compartment you can use for your phone, a water bottle or anything else of similar size but no heavier than 4 kg (8.8 pounds), and it will be protected from the water.
That said, early pledgers can get the BikerTop for €167 ($198), with an MRSP set at €279 ($331) for when it goes into production. The first units will be delivered in May 2021, so it looks like, either way, you still have to retire your bike for the rainy season.