Even in a bicycle utopia like Amsterdam, where a sprawling network of bike lanes means most people cycle to work, there's a reason why riding is sometimes worse than driving—rain. After years of watching cyclists balance umbrellas or wear raincoats that don't really keep them dry, a team of Dutch designers came up with a new solution: A pop-up pod that covers your whole body while you're riding in the rain.
When you unzip the tiny pouch that holds it, the Boncho—that's short for bike poncho, of course—springs open, umbrella-like, into a shape that covers you from your handlebars to your seat.
"Traditional rain clothes make you feel drenched and soggy while riding in the rain ... plus they're often too bulky to carry in the first place," says Ties Carlier, co-founder of VanMoof, the cycling company that created the design. "The Boncho is easier to use, has better ventilation, and even protects socks from getting wet because it has been designed specifically for bike commuting."
A few other companies have attempted to solve the problem of rain, like Veltop, which makes canopies to attach to a bike. But the Boncho is designed to be easier to use.
"To make something like this takes an intimate knowledge of what people need to commute by bike in the city—we have spent the past eight years immersed in this world, which gave us some great insights," says Carlier. "The folding structure is very unique—it’s a new invention and the result of some out of the box thinking. We had the eureka moment when we met with a young design duo in Taipei, who already had some interesting designs for a foldable umbrella."
Their goal is to help remove the final barriers that stop people from commuting on a bike, especially in cities with less of a bike culture than Amsterdam, where people are even less likely to ride when it's pouring. It might work, assuming cyclists aren't too embarrassed to wear something like this.
"Every day, bad weather deters countless people around the world from riding their bikes," he says. "Sometimes it’s even the chance of rain that stops someone from commuting by bike. The Boncho can take away that barrier."
The Boncho is crowdfunding on Kickstarter.