I’ll tell you a secret. Safety pins have always freaked me out a little. Who’s to say they won’t pop open and start sticking you whenever and wherever they feel like it? I mean, when you pin a race bib to your jersey, you’re basically voluntarily pushing fish hooks right next to your skin–and that “protective” metal looks pretty flimsy to me. Never fear, RaceDots are here.
You may have heard about these through their Indiegogo launch and subsequent success. It’s no wonder because these are certainly out to revolutionize the way we affix race bibs. Jason from RaceDots (you may also know him as the director of several sports documentaries including one of my favorite cycling films, “Chasing Legends”) was kind enough to send me a blister pack of 5 to try for myself. Since I didn’t have a race over the weekend, I did what any self-respecting person would do, I pinned . . . er . . . uh, I magneted on an old race bib and went for a ride.
At first, I thought that these little metal circles would be annoying because of the added weight hanging on my jersey, but I actually didn’t notice them during my ride. In fact, I found myself forgetting that these were holding my numbers on–something I rarely experience when using the fear-inducing safety pins. Plus, no billowing or flapping in the wind. You’d need at least 7 pins to accomplish that.
If you’re even the tiniest bit OCD like me, you’ll get an added benefit with RaceDots: straightening your number without having to remove anything. Once you get these magnets on either side of your shirt or jersey, they slide with the right amount of force. Meaning, you can get a perfectly level and centered number on without having to pin and re-pin and make several permanent holes in your expensive race garb. No holes! Easy repositioning! These are fantastic.
Of course, getting these RaceDots on the first time or two can prove challenging. I forged ahead without watching the recommended installation video, and I struggled. But with just a few minutes to educate yourself on their proper use, you can affix these without any problem, and they stay put without any problem. Especially if you take their advice about punching an extra hole in the race bib and using all 5 dots.
Runners and cyclists will have to employ different methods of installation because of the front/back display requirements during a race. When I tried putting the bib on a running shirt and then pulling it on, the RaceDots slid out of the holes: unmitigated disaster. But putting the number on while wearing the shirt was simple and easy. Cyclists will need to do this the the other way around, affix and then slowly and carefully put your arms in your jersey. Needless to say, they work best with a full-zip that you don’t have to pull over your head. Of course, if you’re ok with someone else sticking their hands up your jersey back or in your pockets, you can always get a friend to help you once you’re all dressed and ready to go.
Triathletes, Get Bummed
When I first saw these ingenious little magnets, I immediately thought that they were a perfect replacement for race belts–one of my least favorite accessories because I spend more time worrying about pulling the belt down every 30 seconds when it rides up than I do focusing on my race pace. But, unfortunately, they’re not recommended for triathletes.
There’s a good reason for this, though, as these magnets will stick to each other and to any other metal object anywhere near them. They are crazy strong–like mom lifting a car to save her child strong. There’s no telling what your jersey would be stuck to by the time you hit T1, and stopping to rearrange your magnets would probably not do much toward getting you on the podium. (I know because I got two stuck to each other while replacing them in the blister pack. It was a long fight, but I won.) But for runners and cyclists, they’re a great addition to your race kit.
One more thing, because these will stick to most metals, take extra caution when putting them over a jersey pocket if you’re also carrying things like a CO2 pump, metal tire levers, or anything else that might attract them. It shouldn’t be too big of a problem, but just be mindful of a placement that might pull a Dot or two away from your bib number when you start changing positions on the bike.
RaceDots are now a permanent part of my race kit. I’m tired of facing my fear of safety pins. RaceDots are my future.
Get Some for Yourself
You can order a 5-pack in 11 different colors now at the official RaceDots store. They’ll run you about $23.99 right now, which might seem a bit expensive until you get a glance at the quality. These are meant to last.
Of course, if you have a spouse or friend who might also want some, you can pick up the 10-pack for $39.99. Split the cost, and save a little cash.
At the online store, you’ll also find replacement Dots or magnets in case you find yourself breaking or losing one.
Lastly, and perhaps the coolest option here, is customized Dots. If you’re a race organizer, and you want your racers to really, really love you, order at least 500. You’ll get any graphic you want on them, and as participants re-use them in other races, they’ll also be advertising your race. Pretty slick, eh?
So what do you think? Are you gonna make the switch from safety pins?