Winter Biking Preparation – Our bike tent.

When Steph and I talked about getting rid of our car and only riding bikes around, we knew it was probably going to get cold at some point during the winter.  It did last year at least.  So we made a plan of creating a waterproof and windproof tent that could strap on the back of our Yuba Spicy Curry to protect our children against the weather.

Well, we did that.  And it turned out pretty cool.

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Our ride this past Saturday on the Midtown Greenway.

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The frame of the tent is made out of PEX, the flexible tubing that people use to plumb their houses with.  Steph and I re-plumbed our entire house when we lived in Georgia, and we used PEX to do it.  So we already had a good idea how PEX worked, and we already had the clamping tool.

PEX is a great combination of flexible and stiff – meaning that if you bend it in a certain way, the stiffness of the PEX will kind of keep it bent in that way.  It does not easily deform in the wind, for example.  But, for some of the key supporting segments – like the handlebars, the footrests, and the main supports in the back, we dropped a wooden dowel in the PEX to increase the stiffness.

How did we know the wooden dowel trick would work, and not break over time?  We had no idea.  We just tried it out, and it seemed to work pretty good.

For the fabric of the tent we cannibalized an old rain fly we had in the garage, and then bought some classy transparent plastic from the fabric store for the windows.  We were going to have our friend, Robin,  sew something together to fit, but what happened was, she moved to Florida before she could sew it for us.  Robin has a really cool condo in Florida, and she invites us sometimes.

So we duck-taped the tent together.  We used the Gorilla Glue tape, which is black – so it looks professional-ish.  I mean, as professional as you can possible look when you are riding around in a bike with a rain-fly duck-taped to a PEX framework.

Our friend Robin is something of a savant when it comes to sewing.  She made us a sweet bag to go in the center cavity of the Mundo, seen below, modeled by young Lewis.  Now we can keep spare tires, snacks, and a first aid kit in there for emergencies.

We had plans of creating a Velcro door, so that when the kids got in they could seal the door shut against the wind.  But because we do not have a sewing machine, or any skill in sewing, we just taped some Velcro onto the rain-fly, and hoped it would stick.

It did not stick at all.  Fell off before the first ride.

Now one side of the tent is nice and tight against the wind, and the door side of the tent is flapping in the breeze.  It is actually not as bad as it seems, but we are going to have to work on it, for sure.  I think we can find a sewing machine somewhere, and maybe create a more professional looking contraption with a zipper enclosure on the doorway.

We attached the tent onto the bike using the many, many attachments points the Spicy Curry offers.  In the front, we attached the PEX to the seatpost using an extra bike stem we had laying around.  On the back, we strapped the PEX to our child seat.

The Spicy Curry has several extra through-holes on the bottom for the foot rests, and we made little PEX pegs that fit into the holes pretty nicely.  We dropped dowels into the PEX for support, and then screwed the dowels in using the screw-holes YUBA thoughtfully provided.

Because of the huge sun roof, the enclosure warms up really nicely in the sun.  After a while of riding inside, Grant takes his gloves off and lowers his neck gaiter.  It is probably not technically warm in there; but it is easily ten or fifteen degrees warmer than the outside.

We picked up a sleeping bag that fits onto the child seat for Darcy.  Straps in and everything.  Really professional.  So Darcy is doing great.  Roasty-toasty.

We are going to have to make a sleeping bag for Grant as well.  Going to have to find someone who can sew.  But I am not too worried about that.  Robin is coming back from Florida in a week or two, and she will most likely help us out.

Lewis sits in the back on a Chariot child carrier.  He has a sleeping bag too, and we usually pack the Chariot full of blankets pillows, and a healthy supply of suckers left over from Halloween.

The Chariot has a suspension system that softens the bumps and makes a gentle rocking when you are pedaling.  The whole scenario is as effective as the sleeper hold commonly used in professional wrestling.  Just knocks you out.  Lewis will be riding back there, sucker in hand, both eyes closed and mouth open, snoozing like a champ.

All in all, I am really pleased with our invention.  Of course, we still have a couple of things we are going to improve.  First, we should probably sew it together, and then tape the seams for waterproofing.  Duck tape alone might not make the whole winter.

We also need a doorway that closes using a zipper.  Our Velcro solution puts too much strain on the door, and the duck tape doesn’t stick well.

We should also put our blog address on the side of the carrier.  We are getting a lot of stares, might as well make them useful.

Finally, on that note, if you see is pedaling around, say hi.  We would love to talk with y’all.

9 thoughts on “Winter Biking Preparation – Our bike tent.”

    1. Andy, you really did a smashing job on your rain cover. Really impressed. I like the way that it can fold out of the way when it is not raining. Very clever.

      Next winter we will likely incorporate a few of your ideas. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Hey thanks Bill,
        The design has been working well for about 4 years. We are on our second plan cover. When it’s folded away it actually becomes a bit extra storage space for things too. I should bloody patent it!
        Hope other out there can adopt some ideas from it.
        i just love our yuba. Best thing I’ve ever bought I reckon.
        Enjoy your riding.


        1. Andy,

          When Steph and I got rid of our car, we thought we were going to be the only people we knew who did this sort of thing. Really unique. After we pulled the trigger, though, we realized there is a whole “no car” culture. Now we have met or heard about dozens of people who are got rid of their cars. Kind of puts things into perspective for me. Are y’all a car-free family?

          1. Good onus! Unfortunately work commitments restrict our ability to get rid of our bomb. But when it dies we will probably switch to a car share car. We do
            More kms in total on bikes than the car every year though!

  1. What diameter of pex did you use for this? I want to build something similar for my spicy curry and am leaning toward the 1″ as it should mate into the side rack mounts. How much tubing did you use?

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