Zolar Bike Roof

Bike roof for protection against rain and sun during the bike ride.

Zolar Bike Roof Prototype 2

Current Prototyp 2

Das Fahrraddach in Aktion auf Youtube

Motivation

I love it to ride my bike. Beside longer bike tours (longest approx. 1700 km) I ride my bike practically every day in Berlin.

Riding during the rain however is something I could do without. During my bike tours I carried the complete rain gear: rain jacket, rain trousers and over-shoes. Most of the days I fortunately had sunshine. But on the fiew rainy days I was very happy to have carried the additional gear with me.

For daily use however I find the standard rain gear unpractical and therefore do not use is it. Firstly one often is surprised by the rain and will get soaked in the rain. You could only effectively prevent this by carrying the additional gear with you everyday. Putting on and taking of a rain trousers over often already wet shoes is not that convenient, too. Additionally you will often not only feel the cold rain from the outside of your cloths but the clamminess from the inside from all the sweat that cannot escape anymore. Its not really a comfortable feeling. The rest of the day you then will have to carry the wet gear with you. An alternative is needed.

Concept

Simple

The concept of the bike roof is quite simple. A wood construction is attached to the bike frame by two screws (clamp-connection). On top of the wood construction a fabric covering is attached. It acts as rain (and sun) protection.

During rain an additional fabric covering can be attached to the front to protect from head-on rain.

For transport and storage the roof can be quickly dismounted and folded.

Effective rain protection

The roof does not provide 100% rain protection. But you will not arrive at your destiny completely soaked. During stronger winds a jacket will still be helpful. And against splash water over-shoes are still useful. The rain protection can best be compared with that of an umbrella.

Sun protection

Especially during midday you are protected against direct sunlight. This makes a more relaxed bike ride possible and protects from harmful UV radiation (especially your eyes).

Safe

Visibility during rain is not reduced by a front shield. Other road users can more easily and faster spot the bike.

Wind?

Additional wind resistance is minimized by a small front surface (subjectively not noticeable up to 20 km/h). Sensitivity to side winds is much lower than could be expected from the appearance of the roof. During very stormy weather it is however not recommended to ride the bike with the roof (but also not without it).

Comfortable

No wet clothes any more – on your body or in your bag. Rain protection even when pushing, locking or unlocking your bike. Children in child seats will also remain dry.

Light

Total weight under 2.5 kg

Cheap

Instead of relying on expensive custom made parts the roof is made of standard components available at normal hardware stores. Everybody can build his own roof himself and get replacement parts locally and cheap (sawing, drilling and screwing needed). Assembly kits will probably be available next year (only screwing needed, s. below).

Theft protection

Because of the remarkable feature and size of the roof thieves might be discouraged. Casual thieves have to be afraid that the bike will be recognized. Professional thieves who use small transporters to steal many bikes at once will need to first dismount the roof or will only be able to transport much fewer bikes. Soon more general information about theft protection for bicycles.

Solar Pedelec

In future the fabric covering can be replaced with a (semi-)flexible solar panel. The size of the roof can accommodate a panel of 250 Wp peak power output. Under real conditions it will probably deliver 100-150 Watt power in sunlight. This should increase the range of the pedelec to over 100 km (a day) and make battery recharging unnecessary in most cases.

For whom is it not suitable?

Are you always taking your bike inside because of fear of theft instead of leaving it locked outside (very expensive bike, dangerous area)? Then the Zolar bike roof will most likely not be suitable for you because of its size.

The same is true if you regularly take your bike with you into the train. It is possible but can lead to complications especially in full trains.

Zolar Bike Roof compatibility check

Because of its mounting principle the bike roof is compatible with most but not all adult bikes. Requirements are separate top and down bike frame tubes and accessible seat strays (or a stable luggage carrier, s. Fig. above).

For those cases, following bicycle roofs might be alternatives: Allride, Veltop, Dryve.

Development

I got the idea of the bike roof while thinking about a solar electric assist trike. The solar panel is supposed to function as a roof and give the trike the advantage of a velomobile (rain protection) while simultaneously producing electricity for the propulsion. More information about this idea under Zolar Trike.

Zolar Bike Roof Prototype 1
Zolar Bike Roof Prototype 1

Prototyp 1

July 2014

I asked myself if the same principle could be applied for normal bicycles. Early July 2014 I built prototype 1 out of wood and cardboard. The main purpose of this prototype was to test balancing and riding under windy conditions. Prior to riding it I was quite skeptical – as most people would be. But I was positively surprised by the quite stable handling performance. Realizing the advantages I decided to keep the roof on the bike even without the solar panel. The solar version is still planed for some future version. But currently flexible solar panels are still quite expensive. Cheap standard panels on the other hand are to heavy (approx. 18 kg/250Wp instead of 3.5 kg/250Wp for semi flexible solar panel).

August 2014

Early August I built prototype 2. The cardboard was replaced with water resistant fabric covering, more stable (screwed) joints are utilized and the whole construction is significantly more stable and allows for flexible mounting even if a basket or child seat is present.

September 2014

I ride (and test) the second prototype virtually everyday since early August. Overall I am very satisfied with the performance. Improvement will however be implemented:

The front construction will be slightly redesigned for more stability.

A proper screw locking mechanism (washers, adhesives) has to be implemented to stop screws loosening over time due to vibrations.

Outlook

In 2015 if the field test succeeds I plan to release a detailed construction manual online to the public domain. Assembly kits could also be made available through this website. They simplify the construction by including pre-cut and pre-drilled wooden leths and fabric covering as well as all needed screws and nuts.