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A while ago I backed a Kickstarter project for an unusual raincape called the Boncho. The original delivery date was March 2016, but delivery was somewhat delayed (par for the course for Kickstarter projects). My Boncho arrived last week. Here are a couple of unboxing pictures.

The Boncho weighs 422 g (size medium).

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Here is a comparison with the Cleverhood rain cape.

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The main feature of the Boncho is that there is an embedded wire loop that keeps the front of the poncho semi rigid over the handlebars.  However, you can see that the coverage is considerably less than the Cleverhood, especially to the sides.

Here is a picture on the bike.

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Again with the helmet.

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It is useful to compare this with the Impac raincape, which has considerably less coverage

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or the Cleverhood.

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So the Boncho is between the Impac and the Cleverhood.

Here is the comparison of the packed sizes.

Here is a view of the Boncho hood, with some adjustment cords, and a water resistant zipper, and some reflective trim.

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The hood barely fits over my helmet, but then the zipper won’t close.

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Here is the back of the wire loop, showing the straps that you can use to hold onto the poncho.

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I rode with the Boncho in the rain for the first time today.  It did a good job of keeping me dry. Also, I can see some advantages to the wire loop stiffener. It holds the front edge of the poncho forward enough that my lower legs were fractionally drier. Also, it was very easy to reposition the poncho when I used one hand to do a hand signal. Finally, it also avoids the puddle between the arms that can accumulate with any other poncho.

However, the downside to the Boncho was that the frontal area is huge, and extends to the sides much wider than the handlebars, so if you are concerned about aerodynamic drag, this is not a good choice for you.

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What is the alternative?  The Impac rain cape is lighter, but the coverage is minimal to the sides. The Cleverhood gives the best coverage, but it is heavy and relatively expensive. However, I recently discovered that Cleverhood has come up with a much less expensive option called the Cleverlite raincape. The Cleverlite does not have the bells and whistles of the Cleverhood, in particular the very handy pass thru slits for your hands that have magnetic closures. However it is less than half the price, and it is still sewn in the US.

Here is a comparison of the coverage of the Cleverlite and the Cleverhood.

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The same amount of coverage front to back, and only a little less to the sides.

Here is a flash photo of the back, which highlights the reflective trim. (The Cleverhood electric houndstooth still looks awesome.)

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The Cleverlite weighs 210 grams.

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If you roll it up, it packs pretty small, smaller than a Marmot Super Mika rain jacket (typical for an ultralight rain jacket) but bigger than the Impac rain cape.

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My preference for a rain cape is that it packs small. At the same time, the coverage of the Impac rain cape is marginal in windy conditions. The Cleverlite offers the best balance of packability and coverage at a very reasonable price point. The Impac is still a good option to stash in a saddle bag to “just in case” if I’m not sure that it will rain.

Summary table

Cape Weight (g) Price Origin
Cleverhood 660 $249 US US
Cleverlite 210 $99 (on sale for $79) US
Boncho 422 $74 Taiwan
Impac (Cape Scott) 104 $50 CDN China

A few other notes:

  • Impac makes a heavier rain cape that provides more coverage and has a transparent window for a headlamp beam. I have no experience with this.
  • No rain cape will work well without full coverage fenders.
  • The Cleverlite raincape was provided by Cleverhood for this review.

My previous posts on rain capes:

Open Streets TO

Today was the first of two days for Open Streets TO. This year, they extended the range all the way west to Dufferin St. (On Sept 18, they will also close the Bloor St. viaduct, and extend the closure to the Danforth). At the same time, a cargobike meetup was advertised on Facebook, so we set off to see how many people would show up.

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One presumes that when there is car traffic, it would be too dangerous to unicycle while playing the ukelele on Bloor.

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I see that these booths are blocking the Bloor bike lane, but I guess we’ll give them a pass.

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Nice to see many families out biking.

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Some of them were riding cargobikes.

Here is everyone that showed up for the cargobike meetup.

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These guys are test riding our Haul a Day.

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Jeremy is ready to ride!

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Doug toted Honey in a messenger bag today.

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Lucy says it’s time to ride.

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These are the faster guys.

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I like how the booths east of Spadina leave the bike lane clear.

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I had not seen an Omnium cargo bike before today.

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Let’s turn south at Yonge and Bloor.

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Headed down Yonge St.

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Meeting up with Cycle Toronto volunteers who were collecting signatures for bike lanes on Yonge.

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Lucy says it’s time to ride north.

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We meet Andy and Elise.

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Honey strikes a post at Curbside Cycles, who had a full display of Babboe cargo bikes.

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So we had lots of fun riding during Open Streets. However, the format of the cargobike meetup was less successful than the last time. In particular, we didn’t manage to get a group back to the starting point, which might have been a bit of a disappointment for Curbside, since everyone was riding at different paces, and it was difficult to predict our progress during Open Streets. Next year, perhaps we’ll go back to the format of one or two weekend kids and cargobike rides during Bike Month.

 

 

 

BM2016: 3.5 weeks to go

HPVDT has been busy with several projects running in parallel this summer. However, as the dates for  WHPSC 2016 approach, they are making final preparations for the event.

Their main effort this summer has been their submarine AXIOS. Here is a fuzzy shot of the male buck used to make the hull mold

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and here are the molds.

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Everything is being made from fiberglass that was sourced as scrap from a wind turbine factory.

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Here is the rear portion of the hull.

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Calvin holds one of the propeller blades.

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In terms of Battle Mountain, their plan is to bring Eta Prime, and either Vortex or Bluenose. Here is a picture of Eta Prime, Vortex and Cyclone.

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Here is Eta Prime with the rear part of the fairing installed.

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Eta Prime is pretty much up and running. It has been track tested up to about 50 mph. The test speed was limited by the roughness of the track causing severe vibration. If things go well, Calvin has a shot at upgrading his hat. In the meantime, he has to defend his Master’s thesis in about a week.

 

Locke St (Hamilton)

Was in Hamilton this weekend, and I noticed some changes on Locke St since our last visit to the neighbourhood. Firstly, I see that Steam Whistle Brewery bike repair stations have made it to the Hammer.
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Also, it seems that the bikeshare system is a hit, and I noticed some nice enhancements at this station. I like the fact that the advertising on the rack and sign is hyperlocal.

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Also, it looks like wayfinding has been added as part of a 100 in 1 day project. This should be done in Toronto.

 

 

Today was the late Tooker Gomberg’s birthday. Appropriately enough, it was also the day that the Bloor bike lane pilot was officially opened. I posted some pictures over on the Bells on Bloor website, so I won’t repost them here.

However, I will note that this picture (by Martin Reis) showed up in the CBC news coverage of the opening.

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The other piece of good news was the official announcement that the West Toronto Railpath will be extended south past Queen and Dufferin which could be a game changer for the west end.

Finally, just a link to an article showing that not all aspects of bike infrastructure in Vancouver are ideal.

 

The installation of the Bloor bike lanes started this Tuesday, and the work crews have been making very rapid progress. Here is a picture taken on Tuesday morning. All street parking between Shaw and Avenue has been forbidden, and the southern half of the roadway is being used for one lane of traffic in either direction.

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On the closed half of the road, you can see the markings sketching out the westbound bike lanes.

By late that afternoon, there was paint on the ground. Here is a view looking west.DSC09190

and here is the machine being used to scrub off the old lane markings, perhaps even the same truck used to remove the Jarvis bike lanes.

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By this morning (Wed) it was apparent that the basic marking had been done in the westbound direction since the traffic was now diverted to the northern part of the roadway. Here is a picture taken by Honest Ed’s looking west. Westbound cars are driving over the new markings.

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What is more exciting is that it is clear that the city has decided to go with continuous curbside bike lanes, and that any car parking is being used to buffer the bike lane. Here is a closeup of the parking spaces that you can see in the picture above

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and this is the corresponding portion of the map that the city showed at its last public consultation.

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Later Wednesday afternoon I rode the bike lane westbound from Huron St. to Shaw to verify that it was in fact continuously along the curb. Here is the view from Huron looking east, showing the eastbound bike lane markings sketched out.

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and now riding west from that point, here are some more of those parking spaces

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which appear on the map here.

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There is one more subtle point about the plan that I noticed. The original plans had parking buffered bike lanes only east of Spadina, since it was stated that you couldn’t have them on the western part because of limited roadway width. When they altered the plan, they had to find a few inches somewhere. You can see the result here looking west: on this section of bike lane that is across the street from parking, there is just a simple line with no buffer unlike what you would see on Harbord. According to the plan, the bike lane is 1.5 m in width here.

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This picture was taken just shy of the Bloor Theatre, and I’ve marked the spot where my bike was by a red arrow on this map. Note that there is no buffer here on the plan.

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There’s that lane erasing machine again, this time headed east.

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Now look at this bike lane, headed west just shy of Shaw. You can see the double line that leaves a small buffer between the bike lane and traffic. There must be slightly more road width here.

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Again a map with a red arrow showing the approximate position of my bike.

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Interestingly, the plan shows flexi posts on these narrow buffers, but there are none protecting the bike lane sections that are marked by a single line.

One more thing: if you insist on biking down Bloor during the construction, it is an uneasy mix of cars, bikes taking the lane (like me), and the usual number of bikes squeezing by on the right, which is a pretty tight squeeze under these conditions. The traffic moves slowly enough in the construction zones that I’d advise you to take the lane.

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The other thing would be to avoid riding in the coned off areas, however tempting that might be. I saw places where inconsiderate cyclists had ridden over fresh lane markings and making a mess. Things will be even worse if people ride on the green paint that is still to come.

At the current rate of progress, I’d say that the basic lane marking will be done by sometime tomorrow. The green paint and other markings and the flexipost installation will probably take the remainder of the two weeks, but things seem to be moving along very nicely.

Kudos to the work crews. Thanks also to the city staff that worked so hard on this design.

BTW if you want to see the pdf of the plans in more detail they are available from the City of Toronto website here:

West of Spadina

East of Spadina

A variation of this post was cross posted to the Bells on Bloor website.

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