Category: How To

Editor’s note: we’ve touched on the subject of cycling fabric care before — here are a variety of new tips for you to mull over as the weather heats up.

Looking After Your Cycling Clothes
If you’re a regular cyclist, then you know how important the clothes you wear are. They are an investment, keeping you at a comfortable temperature, keeping you dry and always there to prevent soreness and injury. What’s more important is looking after them so you can get the best use and value to ensure you don’t have to fork out for another set of cycling gear over and over again. Make sure that yours last with these helpful tips.

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Air It Out
Don’t let your sweaty bike clothes fester in a pile, especially if they are damp. The damp encourages bacteria to form and will make your clothes smell. Airing and drying your garments will prevent this to a certain degree.

Before You Wash
When you wash your gear, make sure that you turn them inside out, and apply pre-wash detergent to the areas that are worst affected.
Zip up any zips and close up any hook and loop fastenings before you wash, as these can damage garments. Place them in a mesh bag to prevent them being tangle and stretched with other items in the wash. Avoid putting them in with jeans or towels. Your cycle gear should be treated as ‘delicates’.

Nothing Too Complicated

The soap or detergent that you use to wash your clothes should be just that. Don’t use scents, dyes or softeners on your cycling gear.
Wash on a cool temperature, and if they don’t smell clean enough for your liking, wash them in vinegar or a specialist sports wash detergent. You don’t want your clothes to smell like detergent either, though, as this can irritate your skin.

Air Dry
If you can, always air dry your gear. Tumble drying can damage the fibres if too hot, so stick to a cooler heat if you have to tumble dryer.

Waterproofs
Waterproof cycling gear needs special care, as they are complex garments. Fabrics like Texapore, used on E-Outdoors’ collection of Jack Wolfskin garments, have a breathable, waterproof membrane that lets vapour, but not liquid through. The outer shell is often hard-wearing and coated with a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating, which can wear off over time. You can re-waterproof your garments with a wash-in product or a simply spray. Wash in will waterproof the entire garment – though remaining most effective on the outer shell because DWR will only bind to existing DWR. A spray-on will only coat what you spray.

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A last tip, always remember not to tumble dry waterproofed garments as they could end up smaller than you’d like!

We received this product a few months ago for testing. But it’s one of those things that we can’t just start using. Well, technically we could. But there’s a few things I needed to get done on the bike that we’d use for the test before we even started reviewing this product.

Let me explain what it is. See the photo above? Notice how there’s a passenger in the back with her feet on the pedals? Well that’s what this is for. You can carry a passenger on your bike and it instantly become as a tandem.
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Like I mentioned I needed to do something to the test bike we’re using for this review. I basically had to make it comfortable for the passenger, so I decided to build a rear seat board. Here’s some things you need: Upholstery material (left over from the sidecar project), Saw (oscillating power tool), measuring tape, composite wood (or regular wood), foam pad (not pictured) and a smoking pipe.
vigurvant on bikecommuters.com

After measuring the composite board, I cut it down to size and drilled some holes for the zip ties to keep it securely mounted on the rear rack.

I left the zip ties in the holes while I did the upholstery.

Installed pedals. The Park PW1 pedal wrench was either too thick or the pedals didn’t have enough clearance to allow the tool to work. I had to find a 15mm cone wrench to snug the pedal in.

Voila! New rear seat and Vigurvant pedals on the Torker CargoT.

Notice the Vigurvant pedals, all you have to do is flip out that aluminum piece. It acts as an extension on the pedal to allow your rear passenger to place their feet on it.

Now I’m waiting for a volunteer to be my stoker and see how this all works out. Stay tuned!

As you may know, life tends to throw us a few changes here and there. One of the major changes I’ve had to deal with was having to work out of my home. My office used to be about 8 miles away and I’d commute there with my bike. But now that my commute is literally a few steps away from my bedroom, I surprisingly get more riding done now than I did in the last 4 years.

Not sure if you know what it’s like to work from home, but you can get a bit of cabin fever. I know for myself I need to get out once in a while, interact with people, breath fresh air and get some sun. If you can relate to any of those, then here’s some things that I do to help me get my bike “fix” on.

1. I often have meetings at Starbucks about 2 miles away. I’ll hop on my bicycle and ride there. In fact I once took the sidecar to my meeting and my client was so impressed by this machine. However, I couldn’t convince him to go for a ride with it.
bicycle sidecar on bikecommuters.com

2. I go out for lunch. I’m in between Downtown Brea and Downtown Fullerton, so that means I’ve got plenty of choices to eat at. I also will arrange lunch dates with various friends who work or live in the area.

3. I run errands with my bicycle. If I’m out of ink for my printer or need more coffee beans or have to run to the bank, the bicycle is much easier than having to use my motorcycle or car. I actually use my motorcycle quite a bit. I do so when I have to run longer errands. But doing so poses it’s own challenges. With a motorcycle, I have to get on all my riding gear, get it out of the garage, make sure there’s gas and by the end of it, I smell like fumes…but it’s still better than having to take the car around town.

4. Just get out. Sometimes you don’t need any other reason to get out there and ride. Many times I find myself stuck…you know like writer’s block. So to get my mind flowing again, I get on the bike and ride around for about 10-15 minutes. It’s kinda like how dryer sheets help Tina Fey’s writing…

So if you work from home, you can still be a bike commuter. Just find ways to use your bicycle when you have to get out of your home.

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Ever find yourself in a pickle like this:

You’re at the farmer’s market with your so-called girlfriend getting all carried away with sampling apples, debating pumpkin varieties, and haggling over prices of buckets of yogurt.  A mere 40 minutes of local-food perusing and $30 later, your limbs are loaded down with re-usable grocery bags like nobody’s business.  Good thing I spent all those evenings bouldering and I have tons of finger strength for lifting groceries, because lord knows there is no other reason for all that finger strength…! Oh yeah, and you borrowed your friend’s roommate’s bike and there’s a good 25 minute ride ahead of you.

What to DO, Bike Commuters?!

Not an unlikely situation if you are visiting your friend, Mo, in DC, the same weekend as the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, and you are a veteran Pike Place Market veggie hawker like me. The combination is ruthless. You end up with two enthusiastic cycle ladies in a pile of vegetables, and a rear rack with bungees is just not gonna cut it. Damn those floppy cloth bags and that pumpkin! Yes, we bought a pumpkin, hauled it, cooked it, and ate it like the good green-blooded NorCal hippies that we are.

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Anyway, the solution for the Farmer’s Market overload?

Enter the last-minute Veggie Hauling No-Brainer DIY Box ‘n’ Rack. Recipe below:

Prep Time: 20 minutes for collecting ingredients

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • (1) plastic cube/crate free from the bread vendors
  • (6) removable neon zip ties from the CVS across the street
  • (1) existing rear-mounted bike rack
  • (2) opposable thumbs
  • (1) friend, also with (2) opposable thumbs

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Instructions:

  • First, sit on your bike saddle and have a friend with opposable thumbs position the crate  with a couple inches of clearance for your bum, so you don’t end up crowding your bum with the Box ‘n’ Rack as you pedal. Center the box on the rack.
  • Second, have said friend hold the rack in place, as you zip tie the hell out of it in 6 different places from the bottom of the rack to permanently secure the crate.
  • Third, throw in your veggie bag and pedal on home, without grocery bags swinging from the handle bars!

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The DIY Box ‘n’ Rack is such a no-brainer, almost any farmer’s market/flea market-goer can pull it off in a matter of minutes. So worth the minimal effort for no dangerous swinging bags of groceries near your front wheel on the bike ride home.

Try it, you’ll like it!

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So the other day it was raining here in SoCal. It gave me an idea on treating my frame with some Rain-X. If you’re not familiar with this product. You usually apply it on your car’s windows to act as a water repellent. It works much like how a duck’s feathers with water…simply beads off of it.

I figured, why not use it for my bike…so I spot treated one of my frames to see if there would be a benefit to it. Here’s what I got.

This frame was treated with Rain-X
rain-x on bicycles

I poured water on it to see if it would work. No water on the treated area.

Here’s an untreated frame with water being poured.

Water is doesn’t bead off like the treated frame.

So what’s the point of this? Well if you live in a rainy area, it might help keep water off your bike. But one thing you need to keep in mind, Rain-X is made out of denatured alcohol, which means it can harm some surfaces. Best thing to do is try it in small areas first before treating your whole bike.