I believe we all have been through the ritual of pinning our race numbers to a jersey. What would seemingly be a non-event can often feel like an exercise in pushing string uphill. Maybe it is my obsessive detail orientation, but I hate flapping numbers. So upon arrival at every race, I go through the process of pinning each number with seven pins (All four corners, top middle, and left and right middle). I inevitably end up repeating that process several times to achieve a flat number, while in a simulated bike position. After a number of races this season, I have accumulated a collection of small holes and tears across my jersey. So I thought, there has to be a better solution than conventional safety pins.
Well it turns out, I’m not so sure there is. But I do believe I have found an alternative solution that is as effective as safety pins, without necessitating holes in a jersey. In my search for this solution, I considered three alternatives for number attachment: 1) Fabric Glue; 2) Race Dots; and 3) Event Clips. I quickly ruled out fabric glue because I had concerns about the long term impact on performance fabrics and it did not seem to lend itself to readjustment after initial placement. If you don’t have those concerns it could be a perfectly fine alternative. That left me with the choice of Race Dots and Event Clips (see picture for comparative view of each)
If you haven’t purchased or seen Race Dots before, each Dot is basically a front and back attachment that relies on magnetic force to secure the closure. The back attachment has a donut hole to allow a small bump on the front attachment to pass through, further securing the Dot. You can read all about them at the company’s web site: www.racedots.com. At initial glance they sound great and the ability to customize the front face allows for eye catching designs.
Now for the down side, the magnetic force of these are incredibly strong. If you were to place a couple of these nearby each other, they would would quickly self assemble into a single stack of Dots. Now imagine placing a multitude of these on the back of your jersey, getting everything perfectly laid out with your number(s) placement. Then you delicately lift your jersey and attempt to put it on. Suddenly you the hear the rapid “clacking” of your Race Dots self assembling into a singular mountain of magnetically sealed Dots, along with your jersey and now crumpled number. These Dots would work fine if you were able to install them with your jersey on, either by yourself(contortionist?) or with a friend. I prefer to have something that can be readily installed on my own. So plus one for no jersey holes (although it is recommended to create holes in the race number), and minus one for self install.
That leaves us with the Event Clips. The Event Clips are similarly designed as Race Dots but do not use magnetic force to secure the attachment. Instead, it relies on a friction fit between the front and back pieces. Similar to Race Dots, they can be produced with customized designs, although the color vibrancy does not seem to be as strong as the Race Dots. I have tested the Event Clips on my recon ride for the Clasica De Rio Grande and then in the actual race(only one number because of the amount of Event Clips I ordered). I had zero problems with the clips coming loose or moving out of place. Once ‘locked’ in place they were very stable. (See below for a couple of shots of the clips)
What you may notice from the pictures above is that installation requires creating a hole or slit in the race number. I used a cheap hole punch but it still required some help with a pen to complete the opening. I presume the Tyvek material could be overcome with a better punch. Now for the downside: Securing each clip, while maintaining your perfectly placed position for the number, can be tricky. Imagine placing the top part of the attachment at each corner of the number, then having to guide the back plate underneath the jersey, to the top part, while keeping the number in the desired position. It’s not too bad after you practice a couple of times, but it does take more effort than simply using a safety pin. This is where the Race Dots back plates have an advantage of an almost heat seeking like ability to be magnetically drawn to the top part.
The only wear on the jersey is a small dimple that is created between the fabric and the clip. The company indicates the temporary indentation will wash out. On the first use that was the case. On the second use they did not immediately wash out, but 1) I left the clips on for a number of days and 2) it was really not that noticeable. I suspect they will flatten out after I wear the jersey again.
I ordered two individual packs (4 clips per pack) for a total of 7.98 GBP (includes shipping from UK). They offer bulk orders with custom screen printing that might be an option for a Pedal Race custom order. I plan to use the Event Clips for upcoming races and will check back in with any new observations.