Monday, November 18, 2013

Forget your bike on the roof? There's a Kickstarter for that.

I've previously written of the perils of the roof-mounted bicycle rack. In my years of working in bike shops, I've seen the aftermath of inattention when a person forgets that they have a bicycle strapped to the roof of their car when they drive into a garage, bank drive-thru or similar low structure. Every person who does this feels like an idiot and while they often feel that they are uniquely stupid, the problem is unfortunately common. I can think of half a dozen instances of this I've seen come into bike shops where I've worked and I've heard many more tales of roof rack woe on various club rides. I have one friend, who shall remain nameless here, who has managed to smash several bikes into low structures on several occassions. He's not a stupid fellow in general, but roof racks are his (and his bike's) downfall.

While I avoid this situation by avoiding car ownership and roof racks entirely (an action which has worked quite well for me), the folks behind RoofBrain are working to apply technology to the problem. Like a lot of people these days, they have a Kickstarter campaign going and you can check it out here. Even if you are fortunate like me and have no use for their product, check out the Kickstarter because their video is, in Christine's words, "so stupid it's funny." BTW, if enough of you blog readers actually wind up pledging to the RoofBrain cause the RoofBrain folks say they'll send me one of their gadgets. I have no use for the device (no car), so if I do wind up getting one (that's a big if), I'll run a contest here to give it away. It'll probably be an essay contest with the winner being the best non-fiction tale ending with the words "...and that's how I forgot I had my bike on the roof."

Keep 'em rolling (unless you have a bike on the roof and a low ceiling ahead).

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


  1. The reasons about why you need the arming device, instead of just using an app, are scary.

  2. Garage door opener goes in the locked glovebox when the bikes go on the rack.

    Hasn't happened to me yet, but my paranoia may be a good thing...

  3. Here's the pre-app technique I used.Put a bike glove on the cars
    's shift lever. Even if you aren't shifting the glove is usually in sight.

  4. I don't have a roof rack, but I was imagining simply having a front bumper-mounted flexible pole (similar to the flags on recumbents and bike trailers) with a tennis ball, as high as the, that would hit first, but, Steven and David's solutions are much more elegant!

  5. Robin in Victoria10:53 PM

    I'm with Michael R pdx: the whole "driving is a subconscious act; people do it without really thinking" thing is a terrifying outlook!

  6. You are almost right. The video is so stupid it's almost funny, but not quite.

    The big failing of this app is that it doesn't account for the obstacles that you don't anticipate. It's fine that it alerts me when I'm about to knock my bike down when I'm getting to my own garage but what happens when I am unexpected going to an ATM on the way, or way back from a ride?

    I've had roof racks with bikes and boats on my vehicles since 1988. I have long used David's idea, more or less and it works well. But watch me know my break my bike this spring now that I say that I've been so smart ...