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21 November 2011 3 comments
Cats, Dogs, Etc.Curiosities Urban Cycling
Uberhood is the latest in a long line of attempts to convince cyclists that umbrellas are great. Over on the Brooks Facebook page in October, we introduced readers to the Drybike, a handlebar attachment of Dutch provenance which allows the user to clamp an umbrella to it, thereby supposedly making a rainy commute, for example, less... well, rainy. Drybike helps recreate that secure, cocooned feeling that a baby enjoys in its mother's womb. It seems, as ever, that we had our finger on a pulse of sorts. For shortly after our Facebook think tank hit the "share" button, it seems that various reputable search engines were bombarded simultaneously from literally dozens of computers worldwide with the same search criteria - "bike umbrella". If you used the right search engine, you would have been promptly exposed to the rich history in which the idea of having an umbrella stuck to your handlebars is steeped. If you have money to spend, and want a bike umbrella set-up, then look no further. The intriguing thing about Drybikes, Veltops, Uberhoods, or whatever else they're being called this year, is that once you get past their initial inarguable goofiness, they do have a tendency to slowly begin working their magic on you. Because despite the fear of universal ridicule (imagine telling a friend "My bike has an umbrella clamp now") and the steady throb of your own common sense, there is something innately attractive about the promise of cycling in heavy rain, yet remaining dry. Weren't worried about the rain, didn't care what people thought of their moustaches. Aptly, for the month of November, umbrella clamp ownership and use thereof is nowadays rather like having or growing a moustache. One's curiosity is usually outweighed by one's fear of looking stupid, but the feeling is that if a few other people were willing to have a go then you'd give it serious, yet of course ironic, consideration. If you're interested, there are a few essentially identical products out there managing the neat trick of clearly differentiating themselves from each other. There's the semi-permanent front-, back- and side coverage from rain of the Veltop, there's the sleek, aerodynamism-tested double whammy of rain cover plus shade provision of the Uberhood, or there's the (difficult to put a price on) freedom which comes with the minimalistic Drybike to use one's own umbrella. "Okay, so it may not be raining right now, but imagine how dry we'd be if it was." While John Brooks was still alive, he patented countless inventions designed to improve the lot of the everyday cyclist. A trawl through our archive of Brooks catalogues dating back to the 1890's reveals all manner of clips, clamps, holders and fixings which facilitated the attachment of baskets, clothing, parcels and even guns to a bicycle frame or its handlebars. The umbrella idea he appears to have overlooked. We do have this, though. When not in use, you'd hardly know the Uberhood was there.