Ride on, rain or shine: A cargo-bike rain cover
For those riders out there who like to or — let’s be honest — have to ride rain, snow or shine, having a good way to keep the littles extra cozy is a big deal. Sure, you got Muddy Buddies, rain boots and slickers but having extra protection from the elements is never a bad thing when you got passengers you need to keep happy in inclement weather.
Recently I set out on a mission to find an affordable, practical cover for rain, snow and sun protection. With a little digging, I stumbled upon a nifty looking moped rain cover and I had to give it a try. Turns out, this baby is perfect!
It is a generic raincover (not something Xtracycle manufactures) meant to cover the rider of a moped but in our case, used to keep passengers comfortable. With shipping, it cost roughly $50 for the cover, mounting brackets and side curtains. A Hooptie is required for proper installation since the mounting brackets for the front of the cover bolt onto to the bosses on the underside of the Hooptie.
While I haven’t tested it out in super windy or heavy downpour conditions, I have ridden it going 25 MPH max and the cover did great. With the front brackets and rear attachment, I was surprised at how sturdy it is! It wobbles the slightest bit when I’m pedaling but it’s nothing that interferes with the use of the cover. An added bonus is riding with this cover on makes me super visible in the road. Hi-Viz for life! And the good news from my 9 year old, who switches between riding her 700c wheel road bike and hitching a ride with mama, is that she loves it.
So where do you get one of these fancy shmancy covers? And how do you install it? Read on, riders!
Buying the cover
We bought our cover from eBay here. You want a cover that comes with rear view mirror mounts (the black zig zag brackets for mounting to the Hooptie rails) and side rain curtains. There are options to buy covers without these two things so be sure you include them. I can’t imagine this cover being as practical without the side curtains and I also can’t see how to attach it without the rear view mounting brackets. There are similar ones out there from other sites but those ones we found didn’t include side curtains.
Installing the cover
1) Gather your materials and tools. You should have your cover, the “rear view mirror” brackets (that we attach to the Hooptie), 4 additional structuring poles (two thin and longer, two thicker and shorter), your side curtains, and two strings to tie the back end of the cover. You will also need two M5 bolts for attaching the rear view mirror brackets to the bosses on the front underside of your Hooptie rails, a way to clip the curtains back (like a utility clamp) and a hex tool for installing the bolts on the Hooptie rails.
2) Install the rear view mirror brackets onto the cover. Do this before putting the cover on your bike. I tried installing these first on the Hooptie rails then installing the cover and found it difficult. I was much easier getting these all the way into the sleeve on the cover with the brackets off the bike.
3) Place the cover over the Hooptie. Make sure the brackets are roughly in the spot where they need to be installed.
4) Attach the brackets to the Hooptie. Do this by bolting them on using the bosses on the underside of the Hooptie rails. Your Hooptie rails can be at either the narrow or wide setting. In these pictures, the brackets are at the wide setting. Do one side at a time and keep them relatively loose until both sides are attached.
5) Even out the brackets then tighten the bolts down. I like to adjust my brackets so they are where I want them and pretty symmetrical. Once the brackets are where you’d like them, go ahead and tighten down your bolts. You can have the brackets facing forward, as pictured. When sitting in the saddle, your bottom will touch the raincover front. I have never found this to be an issue but if you want a little more room, angle the brackets facing backwards when installing them.
Your cover now looks like this. Time to tie down the backend!
6) Attach the back of the cover to your bike. There are two holes on the back bottom of the cover meant for the tie downs. You can either use these tie downs (which I have used and they were great) or use something else like Nite Ize Gear Ties, toe straps or clamps. There are 3 places you can attach the cover: the Hooptie, on the V-racks near the FlightDeck, or the tailpiece. Installing it on the Hooptie and V-racks allows passengers who like to sit backwards to see out the back of the cover. If your passengers face forwards and there is enough head room, installing the rear end of the cover on the tailpiece will lower the overall profile of the cover.
Installed on the V-racks:
Installed on the tailpiece:
7) Install additional support poles. The thinner, longer poles are for the side awnings. The thicker, shorter ones are for the cover’s roof.
The roof struts install like this:
The awning struts install into a little opening in the bias tape like this:
8) Install the side curtains. These zip onto each side.
When the curtains are fully installed, I found that there was a lot of side curtain excess. To fix this, pull the curtain excess to the back of the bike and clip the curtains together.
Here is what the curtain excess looks like when clipped in the back:
Here is the raincover before pulling the excess to the back:
Here is the raincover after clipping the excess to the back:
I like to ride with the side curtains always partially installed (to avoid having to carry them elsewhere on my bike). When not in use, I unzip them halfway, roll them up and secure them with some nylon toe straps.
9) You’re ready to roll! Before heading out on a long ride, take it for a quick spin just to make sure everything is installed securely. I highly recommend having a rear view mirror on your handlebars since it can be tricky to see behind you with this cover on and no mirror.
A quick note about this cover. While installation doesn’t take that long, this cover is one you either want to ride with on or off, mostly due to it’s size when folded down. In order to transport the cover folded down on your bike, you would need to remove the awning and roof struts. And even folded down, the cover isn’t something you can just throw into a CargoBay and carry all the time. When not in use on my bike, I remove the roof and awning struts, fold the cover flat, and store the cover along with the struts and curtains in a place where I can keep it flat. I tend to just keep the cover installed at all times.
If you have any questions or if I can help clear anything up with the install, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help. Have fun out there and stay dry, folks!