How I take care of my cycling kit

If you’re a road cyclist like me, chances are you have at least a small collection of skintight jerseys and cycling shorts in your cycling kit wardrobe. Today I’m sharing a few tips on how I keep mine clean and in good condition.

I have a top-loading washing machine at home, and I typically wash my cycling garments along with the rest of my laundry – same detergent and all. While it’s pretty straightforward washing them, I do take a few specific precautions.

DO THE ZIPPERS UP BEFORE WASHING

Jerseys with full length zippers should be done up before washing. I find that this lessens the chance of them getting snagged on other items of clothing in the same load.

WASH YOUR CYCLING KIT INSIDE OUT

This is particularly important with padded shorts. The chamois pad on your bib shorts is in contact with your buttocks, groin, and taint (perineum) the whole time you’re wearing them or riding in them. While more expensive shorts tend to come with an antibacterial coating on their chamois, you still want to make sure it gets the best chance of being cleaned by your detergent, so turn your shorts inside out to expose the chamois.

AVOID USING FABRIC CONDITIONER

The one thing I avoid using with washing spandex is fabric conditioner. The stuff tends to clog the microscopic pores of the material, making it less effective at wicking sweat away from your skin. (If you use microfiber towels, the same thing applies to them.)

If you keep using fabric conditioner on spandex clothing, I suspect that at some point, you might as well just ride in wet cotton shirts.

USING A WASHING MACHINE? INVEST IN A MESH WASH BAG

These zip-up mesh bags are mainly used for machine-washing delicates, such as underwear. I find they do a great job with cycling garments and helmet foam pads, too, for a couple of reasons.

First, they are an easy form of laundry segregation. Chances are, if you put your cycling kit in them, and make sure the zipper pull is secured before starting the wash, they will help keep all of their contents in one place. This is particularly helpful for smaller items such as helmet pads.

Second, the wash bags with really fine mesh are a great defense against things that can otherwise damage or fray your kits’ bib straps, spandex panels, or stitching. Hook-and-loop closures like Velcro are the most egregious offenders, latching onto bib shorts and not letting go without taking a few top threads.

I have a few running shorts that have pockets with Velcro closures, so any time I have to launder my bib shorts with them in the same load, I make sure I use a fine-mesh wash bag. Not too shabby for something so cheap.

HANG YOUR CYCLING KIT TO DRY

While the spin cycle of a washing machine can remove a lot of the water from your cycling kit, it’s still best to put it on a hanger and clothesline to dry out properly. Due to the properties of spandex, it will dry very quickly, especially in the heat.

Perhaps it’s a little taboo for people with clotheslines visible to the public at large, but I find it best to dry bib shorts with the chamois pad facing outward, too. Fortunately for me, my laundry area is almost completely sealed off, so this isn’t a problem.

 

This is how I’ve taken care of my cycling kit for the past few years, and so far it’s worked out well. If you’ve got more suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments.

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Review: Lazer Sport SS1 cycling sunglasses

The careless and forgetful human being that I tend to be, I lost my Giant Swift sunglasses through a sheer brain fart. As a result, I spent months on the saddle since then with naked eyes. It’s not like I didn’t look for replacements; I just didn’t find anything that struck my fancy. Dropping by LifeCycle’s Macapagal Boulevard branch is out of the way for me, and getting a new pair of shades I liked that cost close to the old Giant sunnies was a no-go.

Not long after I bought the Lazer Tonic helmet, I noticed Sabak Makati also had a final pair of the Lazer Sport “Solid State” SS1 sunglasses in stock. I had eyed these long ago in 2014 because they were the cheapest way I saw into photochromic lenses which automatically darken in tint under the sun. This particular pair was the cheaper three-lens version though. Making a mental note to come back for it if nobody else wanted it, I eventually claimed it for my own a few days later.

FEATURES

  • Suitable for small to medium faces
  • Dimensions: 148.8 mm L x 140 mm W x 48 mm H
  • Weight: 34 g
  • Optivent lens venting system
  • Shatterproof polycarbonate lens with hydrophobic coating
  • 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays
  • Ultragrip Grilamid TR-90 material on frame, temples and nose bridge
  • Adjustable temples
  • Comes in either three-lens or photochromic lens options
  • Comes with hard case and cleaning bag
  • Comes in 6 color options

IMPRESSIONS

Note the vents and the shaped wire loop on the nose bridge piece.

Initially I thought the whole shebang, a flash yellow frame with a pseudo-mirrored, prismatic main lens, was a little too loud. After a while, though, I grew to like how bonkers and different it was from what little eyewear I have. It’s still a half-frame design, but it’s more akin to the Oakley Eyeshade wrap-around lens style, which means almost unhindered vision.

Apparently someone went to an audition for a live-action version of “Eyeshield 21.”

And what a lens it is. With sunlight beating down ever so slightly harder as summertime approaches, I estimate the SS1’s main lens cuts visible light transmission to around 17-18%. That’s about the darkest tinting I can tolerate without crossing into “too dark” territory. I wore the SS1 on a recent trip to Singapore, and I was surprised how useful it was almost everywhere I went, even while riding the subway sections of the MRT.

Included in the package are two other lens options in translucent yellow option and clear, plus a cleaning bag and a zippered hard case – par for the course.

The SS1 has a few quirky details. For starters, the thick, stubby temples are rather short. Worn on my head, they stop just before where I’d expect them to loop over my ears. Lazer is correct in that the SS1s are best for small and medium-sized heads, and my own head usually falls squarely in the “medium” helmet size category at 56 cm forehead circumference. I’ve tried riding with them inserted into the large vents of the Tonic helmet, and while they work that way, the stubby temples mean I have to push them in fairly deeply to improve security while riding.

Out of the box, they also stay on my head by what almost feels like a mild clamping force. If that’s too much for you, the “Ultragrip” Grilamid end segments are flexible and can be straightened out to loosen the SS1’s fit to a more comfortable level.

Clear lens installed.

Translucent yellow lens installed.

The other lenses are nice, but are also nothing new compared to the Giant Swift’s. Both options work well in overcast and nighttime scenarios; the yellow version in particular sees frequent action on my night commute. All the lens options are better protected against sweat, fingerprints, and oils than the Giant’s, though, which reduces the time needed to clean them.

Because the lenses are the one-piece wrap-around style, Lazer’s lens-swap implementation takes almost no effort at all. You simply hold the lens in the middle, pull it downward from the frame, and it pops right out. To use another lens option, you push it into the long notch on the frame. You then have to move the nose bridge piece over to the active lens, which is secured by a wire loop held in by opposing notches on the nose area of the lens itself.

Finally, the lenses all have vents cut into their top outer corners, and these worked fine. The SS1 never fogged up on me while riding, and it never threatened to slide off my nose or temples regardless of how much sweat I put out. The minimal frame also didn’t impede forward vision so much when bent over riding on a road bike.

VERDICT

Photochromic options for cycling glasses can be very expensive. Oakleys sell at around PhP9,000, while Rudy Project’s versions are halfway there at around PhP5,500. The SS1 Photochromic by comparison was listed for PhP3,500 when I saw it being sold at a local bike shop all those years ago.

Granted, this isn’t the same pair of specs, but I don’t think you’re losing out on much. The main 17% lens is clear, sharp, and remarkably usable, while the other lenses are great and easily swapped.

I got my basic SS1 package for PhP2,500. While it’s not the absolute cheapest option out there, it’s much more palatable than shelling out nine grand for genuine Oakleys. Definitely worth a look.

Review: Lazer Tonic helmet

The first cycling helmet I bought, a Fox Transition hard-shell, had seen better days. Five years on a helmet that’s seen lots of use is plenty, as the primary EPS (expanded polystyrene) material does degrade with sweat and sunlight exposure. Despite never crashing on it, its foam padding had also disintegrated to the point where I couldn’t sew it up to keep its shape any more.

While it had served its purpose, the Transition was also a cheap, heavy thing with poor ventilation. The loud graphics and yellow shell maximized my visibility while bike commuting, sure, and many friends thought the Transition looked bad-ass, but as an actual helmet, it really wasn’t all that great.

Having had a Lazer Blade for about two years now, as my introduction to the MIPS head trauma reduction technology, my impression of it was favorable but not without criticism. On the Blade, the MIPS liner is sort of an afterthought, so it blocks much of the ventilation baked into the helmet’s basic design. Also proving a bugbear was the worsening hold of the helmet’s foam pads to their Velcro retention points, and the disappointing capacity of the brow pad to absorb enough sweat to avoid it being a distraction while riding. I’ve since replaced most of the padding with those from my broken Specialized Centro helmet, and those work leagues better.

Still, I liked the Blade MIPS helmet enough to give Lazer a second chance. I ended up with their entry-level Tonic road helmet.

FEATURES

  • Weight: 243 g at size Medium (55-59 cm head circumference)
  • TS+ Turnfit System adjustable retention mechanism
  • Adjustable ear strap and chin strap junctions
  • 28 vents for ventilation
  • In-mold construction
  • 8 color variants
  • Small, Medium, and Large size options
  • MIPS version available at a premium

IMPRESSIONS

Ben Delaney of BikeRadar rated the Tonic highly, saying that with its fit and finish, it doesn’t feel like an entry-level helmet at all…and I agree. You could do far worse with an entry-level helmet from other brands.

Compared to its other Lazer brethren, there are a few differences. Most notable is the TS+ Turnfit System, which is how Lazer reconfigured its Advanced Rollsys fit mechanism into a more afforable, more generic format. Advanced Rollsys helmets, like the Blade, are adjusted with a stepless knob at the top rear of the shell. In contrast, the TS+ Turnfit System uses the same, smoothly operating wire-and-cradle guts, but is adjusted with a ratcheted knob in a more conventional location on the bottom rear. That does mean the Tonic is less accommodating of riders with ponytails, but in terms of adjustment, it works just as well.

The Tonic also uses a simpler but larger complement of pads. The brow pad is a huge T-shaped thing that also extends to the scalp on the top of a rider’s head, while two smaller pads flank it left and right. I prefer this arrangement over the Blade’s, since Lazer is more generous with the Velcro attachments on the Tonic’s shell. This helmet is excellent at handling my high sweat output. At first glance, the thin pads don’t look like they’re up to the job, but I’ve had zero saturation problems, and sweat never threatened to drip into my eyes.

The five-level rear cradle adjustment is as stubborn as always.

In terms of basic fit, the Tonic fits on my head as well as the Blade does, retaining a trim, svelte form factor. The plastic cradle can also move up and down within a range of five steps, but it’s just as stubborn to move and is best left alone once set to preference. The cheaper helmet trumps its bigger brother by offering a lot more scope for adjustment, mainly in the longer chin strap.

The Blade MIPS has these black decals that turn reflective when hit by light, but they’re recessed into the rear vents.

The rear reflective stickers on the Tonic are larger and more easily seen.

Aesthetically, the Tonic is a treat. It’s a smidge taller in profile than the Blade, and it’s styled a little rear-heavy, although it still keeps the generally trim shape. While not the last word in visibility, and despite Lazer not sponsoring Team Sky, the blue-on-black color scheme on mine looks pretty sharp. Here again, the Tonic trumps its Blade brother by including larger black reflective stickers on the rear, in addition to all the reflective “Lazer” decals.

Close to rated weight, at 250 g

The Tonic has a slightly higher and more upright profile compared to the Blade.

With 28 vents, the Tonic offers lots of exposure to the air and wind, and should offer good ventilation in theory. In reality, it betters the MIPS-compromised Blade, but not by much. The internal air channeling cut into the foam shell isn’t quite that deep, so there’s not much of the “wind rushing through your head” feeling at speed that you’d feel more of from the Specialized Centro. Still, the Tonic works well and should help ward off overheating on hot days. The huge rectangular vents also double as convenient sunglasses storage.

VERDICT

Entry-level, in Lazer’s case, costs PhP3,000. While competitors such as MET can undercut it purely in terms of price, the Tonic makes up ground in perceived quality. In many ways, I get along with the Tonic better than I do the Blade, and in the quality stakes, there isn’t much difference between them at all. Recommended.