Clarijs Kid Cover
The much awaited Clarijs kid cover for our Cargobike finally arrived. It's a critical accessory for hauling little kids in the winter for a couple of reasons: to keep them dry in the rain (duh) and less obviously, keep the cold wind off them when it gets below 50 - my son's eyes often water from the wind and on longer trips he gets chilled even when wearing a thicker down jacket and insulated pants. The parent pedaling the hefty Bakfiets will not get chilled easily. They will, however, lose weight and have very strong legs before long! Why pay good money for a health club membership when you can burn far more calories exploring your town with the family? ;-)
Luc and I went out for a rainy riverside ride over the weekend to trainspot and the cover worked well. The rear window rolls up and makes it easy to talk and little passengers still stay dry with rear flap up even when it rains fairly hard. It's really nice not to be held back by the rain anymore!
To open and close the cover you attach/detach a rubber bungie and lift up either rear corner, which has a flexible plastic batten with a rubber tip that rests in the rear corners of the cargo box, and then your kid crawls into the cargo box as normal. It's very elegantly designed, not much to break and no extra parts to keep track of when stored.
Visibility is excellent for kids, which is key when you're out looking for birds, squirrels and trains and such. Airplane spotting is also possible, another important consideration.
Initial installation took about 30 minutes and involved positioning and screwing in 4 button catches on the box to receive the top's bungies and one small block of wood in the front of the cargo box to tension the batten. The cover detaches in seconds and doesn't leave any intrusive or rattling hardware behind on the bike. Build quality is excellent and top is made from a heavy, industrial quality vinyl material that looks like it will hold up well over time, though I'm not sure what extended exposure to sun and elements would hold if you left it on year-round and stored the bike outside. I imagine our cover will stay on the bike most of the time in the wetter winter months and then be used intermittently the rest of the year. The windows appear to be made out of the same material as a convertible top on a car, so it will probably take careful cleaning to keep them from hazing over time.
The folks at Clarijs are very personable and responsive via email and I plan to pick up some of their GMG kid seat compatible panniers and a cargo box cover as well. One feature they offer which I haven't seen on other panniers is a big grommet which you can run a security cable through to prevent opportunistic theft. Check out their site for many bright, stylish color combinations - these look like the perfect urban bags for other Dutch or city style bikes, though they may not be fully compatible with narrower style of rear rack typically found on US bikes.
[the view from inside]