£40 (or near as damn it) does at first glance seem a lot for a bicycle cover for that's what the Bike Parka is. After all, isn't a bike cover effectively just a sheet of polythene you pull over the bike when it's being left outside in the weather? Or, to put it another way, a protective barrier to shield your pride and joy from the ravages of the elements, the prying eyes of strangers and general all round grot? There, now £40 sounds a lot less scary doesn't it?
There aren't that many bike covers on the market at all. The Topeak Bike Cover seems to pretty much be the standard, probably at least in part due to a lack of choice (and possibly lack of sustained interest on the part of the buying public). A bike cover is just not as sexy a purchase as most other bicycle accoutrements.
Bike Parka are attempting to reinvent the bike cover, and make it just a little bit more desirable as well as functionally more effective.
For starters it comes in a variety of shiny metallic colours. This may not seem crucial to all of you, but it's a cheery bonus that elevates this cover above the masses for me. More importantly, however, a lot of thought has gone into the structure of the cover itself. It's made from heavy duty 68D 21oT Polyester Ripstop, PU coated and seam sealed to make it more weatherproof, and it reputedly offers high UV protection. It stuffs into its own little bag, which comes complete with Velcro straps allowing you to fasten it to your bike frame if the mood takes you. Claiming to fit bike lengths of up to 195cm and height of 120cm, it's intended to be a one-size-fits-all product, while a drawstring and toggle at the top and elastication at the bottom help tailor the fit to any given bike.
The point on which this cover really differs from its competitors, though, is that it offers a port through which a lock can be fed, allowing for locking of the bike THROUGH the cover, not awkwardly around it. Velcro keeps the port from flapping and allowing excessive water or dust in.
It's easy to use, once you work out which way round to fit it (there's only a choice of two and I chose the wrong one initially), with the cover easily fitting over all sorts of bars and securing nicely around the base of the wheels. The fabric is reassuringly tough, and didn't come a cropper when exposed to an unintentional bramble encounter. It's effectively high quality tent fabric, so you'd expect it to be tough. The adjustment in size is great, meaning there's minimal flapping in the wind and pooling of rain. The lock port is a genius touch and makes this much more useful as a commuter aid or for around town errands than most standard covers. It would also work for touring, although you'd have to take off your panniers. It is even capable of covering smaller baskets and the like, provided they don't protrude too far. The UV protection means the fabric itself is going to last longer, as well as protecting your paintwork. It is a little on the bulky side when attached to the bike, but not unduly so. And did I mention the colours?
There's a pared down version, without the lock ports and with a more basic stuff sack, called the STSH, which is otherwise pretty much identical and cuts the price down to £29.95.
Not everyone uses a bike cover, nor needs one, but for those who do, there's a new kid in town, and he means business.
Nicely designed and well thought through sturdy (and colourful) cover.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bike Parka Urbn
Size tested: Ciel
Aimed at those wanting a portable cover to protect their bike.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Polyester Ripstop 68D 210T
One size fits most
Available in 5 colours
Really well made from top notch sturdy but light fabric.
Did just what ti was supposed to effectively and easily.
Pretty durable fabric, and any rips are repairable with a tent repair kit.
Not a heavyweight option if you decide to carry it on board.
Good value for money, especially considering the lock-through option and fabric quality. The more basic version is good value too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lock port, fabric toughness, stuff sack, light weight, colours
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes. Or buy as a gift.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
An innovative and effective twist on a traditionally less than exciting product.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.