We continue our Year In Review with Part Four. Please check out the other posts if you are just joining us.

Shorts

Did you have some shorts that aren’t quite as comfortable as others? Maybe they work for shorter rides but not the longer rides. Cycling shorts do wear out. Their chamois breaks down and leads to less support and even chaffing. How you clean and care for your shorts greatly affects their life span. The most expensive shorts are designed to last five years or so but the average short has a year and a half to three year lifespan depending on the amount of riding you do. Once you start to hit six or seven thousand miles of riding you could see your short wearing out. Yet if you still ride frequently just in much shorter rides the cleaning of the shorts could reduce the life of the shorts. Wear a pair four or more days a week and you still may see lifespan issues at a year and a half or so.

One of the biggest threats I see to cycling shorts are saddle bags. Sounds odd doesn’t it?  Well it is the Velcro strap that attaches the bag to the seatpost. The Velcro tab rubs on the inside of the thigh on the short and pulls at the material causing it to wear and possibly tear.

Helmet

If you purchased your helmet in the last three to five years or more it is time to replace it. The materials that the helmet is constructed with breaks down over time from, sun, heat and your perspiration. Not sure how old it is? Most helmets have a date stamp/sticker on the inside indicating the manufacture date.

You also want to check your helmet for any damage or dents. Are the buckles and straps intact and functional? Does the chin buckle stay attached? Is your helmet comfortable to wear? Many cyclists complain of headaches only to realize their helmet is either being worn to tight or is too small.

Is the rear retention system working properly? Does it stay tight and is comfortable?

Have you given your helmet a bath recently? It is always a good idea to wash them every once in a while. It protects the material, keeps the odor down.

How to Clean Your Bicycle Helmet:

If your pads are removable, remove them and wash them in a warm slightly soapy water. Then rinse them thoroughly. Be sure you get all the soap out as you don’t want soap in the pads when you start to perspire.

With the pads removed rinse out and wash out the helmet with warm water. Use soapy water to clean the straps and remove any perspiration build up. Again rinse thoroughly and allow them to dry.

Once everything is dry reattach the pads, check to make sure everything is working and is not damaged. Confirm the fit and go ride!

Tip: Are your helmet straps white in areas? That is a sign that you may want to make sure you are consuming enough salt during exercise. If you have cramping issues sodium consumption and electrolytes could help prevent them.

Shoes

Cycling shoes certainly last much longer then running shoes, but they don’t last forever.

Life expectancy of the shoes are hard to predict, usage certainly is a factor but so is the original quality of the shoes. Shoes with softer soles, think entry level price points will wear faster than better soles. A plastic sole will last less than an injected carbon sole and a full carbon sole will last the longest. Most cyclists will get several years out of a pair of shoes. For higher end shoes I would expect at least 10,000 riding miles out of shoe.

If you start having hot spots on your feet that could be a good sign that the sole of the shoes are wearing out. Do your shoes soles bend a little bit more then when they were new? While hard to measure it certainly is a sign of wear.

Cleats

Your cleats are an important contact and interface point with your bicycle. They also will wear out when you walk on them. Cleat covers are a great way to protect your cleats. You’ll want to check your cleats to make sure the areas that click into your pedals aren’t wearing out. If they get too worn they can break. A failure during riding could be dangerous. Worn cleats also will allow more movement when clipped in and lead to other discomfort and possible injury while riding.

Inspect the cleat screws to make sure they are tight. If their heads are showing signs of wear it might be a good idea to replace them so you can get the screws removed when you need to replace the cleats.

Straps

How is the Velcro holding up on the straps? Is it worn, do you experience a lot of strap creep during your ride. On most shoes once the Velcro straps are worn out you’ll need to replace them. This is the reason that the Boa systems are gaining popularity on cycling shoes.

Insole

The insole provides your foot consistent support. Checking for wear of these and replacing as needed can increase your comfort and increase the life of the shoe. A relatively inexpensive upgrade is a cycling specific insole. These will give your foot, specifically your arch more support during riding. I even noticed several watts of power increase when I upgrade my insoles. Cycling specific insoles will last longer and are a little stiffer than a traditional insole.

Some cyclists pedal strokes impart the same amount of force as a marathon runner does on their shoes. So good foot support is very important.

Tip: Want to increase the life of you shoe? Pull the insole out after each ride to allow it to fully dry.

Buckles

Take a few moments to check any buckles on your shoes. Are they functioning properly, they don’t jam. Are they securely attached to the shoes? Screws secure and snug?

 

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