If you don’t have a shed or garage to store your bike in, and you can’t keep it inside your home, then you'll probably have to leave your bike in your garden or yard.
And unless there's a covered area in your outside space, your bike is likely to be exposed to the elements.
Extended exposure to moisture (through rain and snow) and UV light (from the sun) can damage your components, fade your paint and significantly shorten the life span of your beloved bicycle!
Don't worry though! A good bike cover is a cheap and effective way to protect your bike from sun and water damage, while also keeping it clean and free of scratches.
It will also keep your bike hidden away from thieves, providing a significant layer of psychological security.
You don’t have to spend lots of money to get a really good bike cover. But there’s tons of different bike covers available and they’re certainly not all equal.
I recommend avoiding the really cheap ones though. They might have all the features of the more expensive covers, but they're made with thinner materials that are just not as durable or weather resistant.
How to choose a Bike Cover
So in this article we’ll go over the things you need to look out for to ensure you get a great deal on a bike cover that will last you a decent amount of time. And then I'll recommend the best two bicycle covers I've found...
What material is it made of?
The type of material that a bike cover is made from is really important! It will determine how well the cover resists sun and water. Plus how durable it is against wear and tear. It will also have a big influence on how much you'll pay!
Pretty much all bikes covers are made from polyester. But the thing that varies between different covers is the thickness of the polyester.
Thickness is measured by something called “denier”, which is often shortened to “D”. So you’ll see different polyesters described as 210D, 600D etc. The bigger the number, the thicker (and therefore more durable and weather proof) the material.
There's a couple of things to bear in mind though. Firstly, none of the materials are completely waterproof. If they're exposed to enough rain or snow, they all start to leak. However, the thicker materials will generally be more resistant.
Secondly, bear in mind that the thicker the material is, the heavier the bike cover, which could make it more difficult to get on and off your bike.
So it’s probably worth thinking about how often you’ll be using the bike that you’re covering. If you're using it every day, you might want a slightly lighter cover than if your bike will be under cover for weeks or even months at a time.
This is why bicycle covers that use a mix of thicker materials (in places most exposed to the elements), and thinner materials (in other areas), are good. They remain weatherproof and durable while still being easy to handle!
Look out for the stitching used to hold the bike cover together too. You want double stitched and heat treated seams to maximise tear and water resistance.
What size do you need?
Bike covers usually come in different sizes, determined by how many bikes they’ll cover. While it might seem logical to buy a 1 bike sized cover if you’ve only got 1 bike, I’d recommend that you go for a bigger size.
Smaller (1 bike) covers will be a tighter fit. They’re more difficult to get over your bike and sometimes they don’t fall all the way to the floor, leaving gaps that can increase the bike's exposure to the weather.
A 2 bike cover will be easier to get over your ride, it will definitely go all the way to the ground and it gives you the option of of squeezing another bike in if necessary or throwing something else (toolbox, bike stand, etc) under the cover if you’re caught in the rain.
The bigger bike covers don’t cost significantly more, so it’s worth the little bit extra money for a lot more convenience!
There are two holes at the front (and bottom) of most bike covers, which are designed to slip a bike lock through.
It always strikes me as a very strange place to put lock holes as the only thing you can secure is the front wheel!
What's to stop a thief cutting the cover open, removing the front wheel and making off with your bike (without the wheel)?
It would make much more sense to have the lock holes in the centre of the bike cover, where you could at lest fasten the lock around the frame (and something else).
Whether your bike is under a cover or not, if you leave it in your garden or yard, it is absolutely essential that you secure your frame to an immovable object.
That immovable object might be a ground anchor, which will require tools to install. Or in small gardens and yards, I really like the PlantLock, which needs no installation, will brighten up your space and will work well with a bike cover.
So, for sure: use the lock holes and get a lock around your front wheel. It's another layer of security. But you must also lock your frame to something to stop a thief just carrying your bike away.
Your garden or yard is one the riskiest places you could leave your bike (more so than the street even). So please don't neglect this! I've got loads more info on how to lock your bike here.
Also, these holes are generally protected by metal or plastic rings, or reinforced with stitching. I recommend you avoid the metal rings as they tend to rust very quickly!
One thing you definitely want to avoid, is a build of condensation inside the bike cover. This will defeat the whole point of a cover, exposing your components to moisture that can cause rust and shorten their life.
Ventilation flaps and valves allow air to circulate within the bike cover, which will help reduce condensation and disperse any trapped moisture.
They won't completely eliminate the issue, but they'll significantly reduce it. I highly recommend that you choose a bike cover with ventilation!
Although a generous sized cover is good for practical reasons, ideally you want a tight fit around the bottom of your bike cover.
This is tidier, reduces the chances of moisture and dirt getting under the cover, and makes it less likely to be caught by a wind which could knock your bike over.
Cheaper bike covers tend to have elasticated hems. While more expensive covers have hems that can be tightened (and loosened) with drawstrings. I think it's worth spending more for the drawstrings...
Loosening them makes it much easier to get the cover on and off your bike. And then you have more control over how much you want to tighten them once the cover's in place.
Some bike covers come with straps and buckles at the bottom, which allow you to fasten the two sides underneath your bike. This secures the cover to the bike so that it can’t be blown or ripped off by the wind (or a person).
It also reduces the chance that a strong wind will get into the bicycle cover causing it to billow out like a sail and blow your bike over!
Generally there's one strap in the middle of the bike, but I have seen some models with a strap at each end. I'm not sure it makes much difference especially if you're tightening the hem and using the lock holes.
You don’t necessary need handles on a bike cover. But they do more than make it easier to pull the cover off.
They also help you orientate the cover when your pulling it over your bike. And they’re useful for hanging the cover out (after you’ve washed it for instance).
Best Bike Cover for US Cyclists
The YardStash Bike Cover [Amazon] boasts many of the same features as other premium level bike covers...
It’s made from a 210D polyester shell. It has ventilation flaps to reduce condensation, holes to pass a bike lock through, bottom straps to anchor the cover to the bike, reflective strips and a handy carry bag.
But there are also a couple of unique features that distinguish it from the competition and earn it the "best buy" prize!
First of all, the top of the bike cover (which is the area most exposed to sun and rain) is coated with an additional, thicker layer of 600D polyester for extra water and UV protection.
Secondly, although it officially comes with a 2 year warranty, their customer service policy states that “if you ever have an issue with this item we will send you a replacement on us, no questions asked.”
And as far as I’m concerned, you can’t ask for more than that!
I also liked the fact that there are drawstring tighteners (rather than elastic) at the bottom of the cover. These make getting it on and off your bike easier, and give you more control at the base.
The holes to pass a bike lock through are also protected with plastic rings, which won't rust (like the metal rings on other bike covers always do)!
And finally, I also liked how the contrasting top layer and other markings make the cover easy to orientate while you’re trying to pull it over your bike.
The only thing the YardStash hasn't got is handles on the top, but they're not important enough to sway me from my opinion that this is the best bicycle cover around!
The YardStash is available is available in three sizes. Large is designed for 1 bike. X-Large is designed for 1-2 bikes. And the XX-Large is meant for up to 3 bikes.
However, even if you only have 1 bike, I would recommend you go with the X-Large as it will be much easier to use.
Best Bike Cover for UK Cyclists
Unfortunately the YardStash isn’t available in the UK. But the Pro Bike Tool [Amazon] is another cracking cover (which is available in the UK and the US)!
Like the YardStash, the Pro Bike Tool cover has all the typical features that most premium bicycle covers boast.
It’s got handles on the top that help you orientate the cover and get it on and off your bike. There are holes for a bike lock at the front, drawstrings to keep it tight at the bottom, and clips to secure it around your frame at the base.
But it’s also made from a strong, waterproof, ripstop fabric (which is a polyester and nylon blend), with double stitched, heat sealed seams for extra protection and durability.
Again, what I really like to see is a brand that’s prepared to stand behind their products. And Pro Bike Tool offer a lifetime warranty against defects on their cover. What this means, is that if you have any issues, they’ll provide a full refund or replacement!
So there you go, what more do you want!? A durable and waterproof, feature packed bike cover that’s guaranteed to do a good job!
The Pro Bike Tool Cover is also available in three sizes: Large, X-Large and XX-Large, which are all, more or less, the same size as the YardStash covers.
But I would repeat what I said above: it’s always better to have a little bit too much bike cover than not enough! For 1 adult bike, I would always go for the X-Large rather than the Large. It makes using it that much easier.
If you're storing your bike outside, where it's exposed to the elements, then you need to cover it with something. Rain, snow and even the sun, will damage the frame and components over time, shortening their lifespan.
The most important thing to get right is the material. The thicker the polyester, the more weather proof and tear resistant it will be.
I like other features like drawstring hems, non metallic lock holes and adequate ventilation flaps too.
But if you get the material (and stitching) right, you'll have a bike cover that will last a decent amount of time, whatever the weather. You'll pay more for better quality material, but not much more, so it's a worthwhile investment.
But if you have other recommendations, let me know in the comments below.
And once you've got a waterproof cover for your whole bike you may want think about a bike seat cover to keep the weather away from your saddle when you're out and about!
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