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A Fistful of Dollars

Keep Your Money In Your Pockets

Words by Andrew Major.
May 21st, 2014
***Disclaimer: Bicycling feeds my family; any bias, real or imagined, is an unintended byproduct of strongly held experiences and/or a long history of opinions — or is that strongly held opinions… never mind… I am therefore I think… etc. etc. etc.

Buy it, mount it, ride it, love it.
Crash it, crack it, now… Replace it?
Zip it, wear it, crash it, rip it.
Stitch it, glue it, quick – repair it!

You love great gear. You search out the perfect pieces for your kit: light, flexible, durable, water resistant, and breathable. An ever evolving collection of gloves, packs, shorts, jerseys, and jackets. Your bicycle is a rolling declamation that screams “testify” to Keith Bontrager’s eternal “Strong, Light, – whatever the third thing is -: pick any two.” Every piece is selected on spec, and tested in battle. Ridden to a legendary death, retired to obscurity in your back-up gear bag, or posted in the Buy-and-Sell with its trade value listed in number of beers.

Everything you buy is measured against rose tinted memories of your own hall-of-fame gear: the you-can’t-kill-a-ROACH shorts that you sweated your bag off in for 5-years, or the ceramic coated ex721 Mavic rims that lasted you “forever” at just twice the weight of your current hoops. The mythical gear elevated and evangelized over a couple of beers at every chance gathering of the tribe.

fistful-1600

The problem with the good stuff? The more obscure the materials, the more specific the usage, the more socially responsible the manufacturing process: the more expensive it gets. Ibex wool bib knickers, Swrve shorts, Mission backpacks, or light weight wool base layers, I find myself trying to do more with less, and pushing the life of my gear as long as I can – long after a lesser item would have been retired for glue.

Whether it’s physiology, or psychology, all my clothing seems to have the same three Achilles’ heels: The Left Elbow – The Right Inside Leg Seam – The Zippers (oh the F***ing Zippers). Combine the unholy trinity with shoes that are a canvas for questionable riding technique, and the replacement costs make it a choice between looking homeless and being homeless.

Before you relocate to a Boler, box, or buddy’s basement consider, if only for a moment, the last time you replaced your frame, hub, headset, or pedals for a blown bearing. Just as wearing a few holes through your brake pad backing plates does not necessitate a new set of stoppers, your shorts with the blown seam, currently leaving too little to our collective imaginations, are a few bucks away from stitching up seven straight stages in the BC Bike Race!

Whether you are getting your shoes and armour fixed at the local hockey shop, having a ripped elbow stitched up by the local seamstress (or seamster if you happen to live in Cumberland), seeking the top garment techs to patch together your waterproof-breathables, or trying to track down someone to patch your chamois shorts (tip: wash them first) the savings are substantial.

I’ve had lugs replaced with mix results, but at the very least a good shoe repair, or skate repair, place can glue/stitch your high-performance footwear back together when you catch your kicks on a rocky protrusion or one of those vampiric little twigs around every blind corner when you’re gassed.

Upgrade the dainty little zips (oh the F***ing Zippers) in your favourite pack, or shell, with something more substantial for ~$20. Way less then a new one – and often less than the costs of shipping them back for a warranty replacement (with the same F***ing Zippers).

Justification through reparation? Absolutely. But cotton is to Coolmax what a package of socks is to a pair, and flexible, breathable, water resistant soft shell shorts are the bowling ball mattress to Dickies’ concrete slab. The best deal on high performance gear is upcycling the unusable kit you already trashed; you will find a number of local businesses ready to keep you in stitches.


How do you keep your gear running year after year? Stories and suggestions welcome below…

  • boomforeal

    Nice work drew, a worthy topic well treated. Thanks for upcycling your thread into a full blown article.

    • DrewM

      Thanks Omar!

  • Mammal

    Best bike gear fixing is done with ShoeGoo. They make a varient called MarineGoo and that, in combination with fabric or glove-leather patches will fix almost any hole or seam tear. I still have some items from 15 years ago.

  • Cr4w

    I regularly put holes in my gloves and shorts and have had them sewn back up by the lady who works at the laundry across the street a dozen times. She’s probably doubled the lifespan of each piece of gear for a total of less than $20. I also extended the life of a 10-year old Dakine pack with a $20 new zipper from Leslie’s Luggage Repair (across from MEC Broadway). I’m lusting after enough new gear that I don’t want to spend money replacing the old stuff!

    • soldenreturn

      that’s not a dakine helipro bag is it? my zip just stopped zipping its about 8 years old, that bag has been all over the world, biking and snowboarding,Iam finding it hard to put it down and buy a new one..

      • Cr4w

        Haha no. It was a black camo flavoured Dakine Nomad.

    • MattSNZ

      Leslie’s Luggage Repair managed to salvage a pair of snowboard boots I trashed while working as a lifty. $20 fix instead of $300~ replacements. A great local business to support!

  • sir-HUCK-A-LOT

    i dont know if the deadmau reference was intentional or not but it was amazing.

    • DrewM

      Totally unintentional… and if you do not point it out to me it is going to drive me CRAZY all day!

      • sir HUCK-A-LOT

        ya and here i am thinking daft punk and writing deadmau….might have had something to do with what i had on at the time (ultra 2014 sets). alive is a stand-by for me and touch it is a great track

    • Koeidels

      *cringes* it is actually Daft Punk…
      Haha…but on the actual topic: last year I dropped some hard earned cash on a swanky new kit, only to rip massive hole in the shorts on day 3. I could blame it on the loose gravel, but, the seamstress (AKA mum) fixed it up and soon after I actually forgot about the rip

  • Andy Eunson

    I have had lot’s of stuff repaired, but the zipper thing, what’s wrong with those people? Dinky zippers that blow out just when you put that jacket on for the chilly descent and you end up with a sleeved cape.

  • Tashi Pea

    I took a sewing class to keep all of my bike, snowboard and work kit going. Once someone’s shown you the basics it’s pretty damn easy and, if your aesthetic standards aren’t high (mine aren’t for work and bike kit) than it’s pretty fast. Went to The Makehouse here in Victoria for my lesson. I highly recommend her. I’ve saved four pairs of Carhartt work pants so far that I wasn’t willing to bother taking in and paying to get repaired – my new pair is still collecting dust.

  • john in MT

    terrible article. use what you have, and keep it a secret. let all the rich yuppies fuel the “scene” and make whatever you need work. this should never have made nsmb as a piece. peace.

    • DrewM

      That’s ground breaking investigative journalism for you… Always stepping on someone’s noes, or sticking your toe(s) were it doesn’t belong…

    • Andy Eunson

      Boooo

  • AlanB

    You mean I don’t need to replace my 20+ year old wool jacket just to stay fashionable? Cool!

    Another thumbs up for ShoeGoo. It extended the life of my saddle several years after the side stitching gave out. It’s good for protecting wear points on bike frames too.

  • cam0n3

    Any recommendations in Van to get a shell jacket repaired? got a little rip innit

    • DrewM

      I haven’t used them myself, but LOTS of people are recommending DCH Sewing and Repair in North Vancouver:

      DCH Sewing and Repair
      Suite 123-1801 Welch St
      North Vancouver, BC V7P 1B7
      (604) 983-2491