You’re going to get wet when biking in the rain. Fact. But there’s nothing worse than getting caught in a surprise downpour, dismounting at your destination, and finding a gross stripe of street grit and dirty water running straight up from your rear-end to your back.
Brooklyn-based Dan McMahon and Patrick Laing met years ago at London’s Camberwell College of the Arts (as student and teacher, respectively) and bonded over a shared love of cycling through the frequently soggy city. So they set out to create a spring-style splashguard for riding when it’s wet, starting with a somewhat surprising retro muse–that ’80s-style staple, the slap bracelet.
Plume represents the result of a complete reversal for the pair, who overcame an “astounding” number of road blocks to realize the seemingly simple construction. “Having a concept and then spending time making it a reality is much more prone to disaster than allowing a concept to be the byproduct of experiments with materials or processes,” McMahon tells Co.Design.
After experimenting with a supply of actual, cheapo slap bracelets from China, they found a small manufacturer in England willing to try out and send over a few new bigger, stronger samples. “When the package arrived to the studio, there were blood stains on it and a note from our friend at the factory warning us to be careful because the springs were sharp, and the recoil was intense.” Taken in a different context, that could be the designer’s equivalent of waking up with a severed horse head in the bed next to you, but the guys weren’t deterred.
They found a flexible, scratch- and chemical-resistant polymer that would bond to the stainless steel and act as a kind of “wing,” which both expanded Plume’s surface area and protect users from those treacherous razor edges. The final challenge was figuring out the best way to attach it to the bike itself. Ultimately, a flexible seat-post mount eliminated the hassle–and the inevitable theft–of quick release options (hands up if you’ve had your fender swiped!), while also effectively absorbing shock from curbs and bumpy rides. Plume can be used easily while in motion, and once in place is always on hand when it starts to drizzle. Your trousers will thank you.