We Need Weatherproof Bikes, Boards, Scooters and Skates

We know that cars are on the way out, at least in terms of local trips. We know that the climate has changed significantly already (we’re already above 1.5c compared to 1750) and it’s only going to continue getting worse for a long time to come. And that means more rain.

So therefore it stands to reason that people are going to be riding bikes and scooters much more for commuting and fun. And they’ll almost certainly be skating, skateboarding and long-boarding more as well. Every time you get rid of cars, everyone’s out on the streets with the skates or boards they found at the back of the cupboard and dusted off.

The problem is that all of these wheeled objects are incredibly badly suited to riding in wet conditions. There are some bikes that are much better suited to riding in rain and on wet roads, but even they are not perfect. Skateboards, skates and scooters are not even close to weather resistant. Ride any of them on a wet day once and your bearings will be shot. Now is the time for innovation from these industries. You could argue that people won’t skate on rainy days, but I think they will. Dry ground days are going to be few and far between in the wetter months. But even if that were true, people will be commuting on e-scooters, and many of them are currently not designed for wet weather riding either.

As far as cycling, this challenge means a rapid move away from exposed chain and derailleur systems and towards belts or chain cases (which I’ve argued for many times already). But there are many other parts on even the most protected Dutch bike that will still rust and go wrong very quickly when used in the rain a lot and kept in less-than-ideal conditions.

At the moment it’s hard to really see this change happening, especially for the more leisure equipment. But as the demise of the car becomes more obvious in the next year or two, we will start to see something happen. Sales of skates and boards will increase as people get inspired by empty streets, and that will lead to a bigger R&D spend, and hopefully the innovation we’re looking for.

It can’t continue to be the case that products are being sold that aren’t designed to be used in the way the manufacturers know people are going to use them. Just from a pure sustainability point of view this needs to change very quickly.


  1. Hi Chris,

    Great article and one that totally resonates with me living in Shetland, only today when buying my son his bicycle helmet, i stood looking at an electric bike in the shop wondering what a full years use off weather would do to it, especially this time of year with strong winds, rain, snow, ice and salty gritted roads.

    I binned my twitter, “Stuart Udon” think i am done with social media though i dont know if this counts as social media lol

    1. Hi Stuart. Good point. I think somewhere like that definitely calls for belt driven bikes with hub gears. It is possible to make it work. But the vast majority of bikes currently sold would be effectively useless.

      And as far as the other wheeled modes I mentioned, you may as well forget them. Maybe go kite or wind surfing instead.

      At least it must be safe to cycle in terms of traffic up there. Total population of the islands is about a fifth of Worthing.

      Fair enough to quit social media. I was wondering where you’d gone. You’ll probably be happier for it. And I’m pretty sure commenting on personal blogs existed long before social media as we know it now.

      1. Yes its been a very refreshing change getting rid of twitter, I don’t think ill be back i just felt there was so much misinformation and also a huge amount of toxicity.

        In the 23 years since i passed my driving test there is a huge difference in the number of cars on the road here in Shetland, even in the main town in Lerwick the streets are full off parked cars, people tend to drive to get something rather than walk even if they live close to where there going, its really as bad as many other places and there needs to be a huge change in transportation.

        Big diesel pick ups and SUV’s seem to be the thing here, i can understand it for some businesses particularly crofters or people who need to tow plant or equipment but many times you see folk going for thier weekly shopping in a diesel pick up.

        Are there any electric bike on the market with hub gears ?

      2. Unfortunate that you have a similar scenario there, although I doubt it’s as lawless as it is here right now with people doing at least double the 30mph speed limit down here. It’s more like a drag strip than a residential street.

        And yes you can get bikes like that. They start at around £2k and they have a chain case that fully protects the chain from the elements, and the one I saw from Batavus (Dutch company) had a Yamaha motor. It’s a really good setup because it gives you the best weather protection and the best performing motor type (mid-drive where the pedals are), as well as the lowest maintenance. And they’re great value.

        At the higher end you can get cargo bikes from Riese & Muller or Urban Arrow, and those can have belt drives and Rohloff gear hubs (those are the best). If you fully spec one of those out, you can get up to £6 or 7k. But those are the best of the best and are mainly car replacements for families with young kids.

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