Monday, October 18, 2010

Tall Boots, Zippers, and Mixte Stays

If you ride a mixte with twin lateral stays and wear tall boots with zippers along the inseams, you may notice that the zippers can rub against the stays as you pedal, which, over time, can damage the paint. This was a big problem on my vintage mixte - whenever I would wear boots like these, the entire length of the zippers would rub. On the Royal H. this is less of a problem - either the stays must be closer together, or my feet further apart on the pedals. The zippers themselves clear the stays and only the pull tabs hit them occasionally. Still, it won't do to have metal tabs repeatedly hit parts of the frame.

I am going to try covering the pull tabs with black electrical tape or something similar. If that doesn't work, then I guess I just can't wear these boots on the mixte. Unfortunate, because I don't own that many pairs of footwear. My previous pair of tall boots had zippers along the back, but after wearing them out I was not able to find a replacement with the same design.  Just a little glitch to be aware of when it comes to mixtes and tall boots!

36 comments:

  1. I like the idea of covering the pull tabs. Maybe I am inspired by the leather grips you sewed on, cause I wonder if you could cover them with some black leather. It would be a shame to eliminate these boots from your mixte outfit ensembles.

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  2. I considered leather, but I think that would make them stick out even more. I should give it a try though with some scraps I have.

    By the way - with a mixte like your Betty Foy "zipper strike" should not be a problem, since there is just a single top tube and it is narrower.

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  3. I can see your point about leather possibly being too bulky. Something to experiment with at least.

    I do feel lucky I have not experienced any bike/boot incompatibility.

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  4. I think just replacing the tabs would be best, provided it's not actually the slider that is rubbing. These are ugly:
    http://www.solutions.com/jump.jsp?itemID=13111&itemType=PRODUCT&iProductID=13111

    But any fabric put through the loop like that would work... a piece of ribbon or a thin strip of leather. Something like that would just softly brush the stays instead of clacking. Good luck! Tall boots are so important!

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  5. You could also try a product called PlastiDip, which is a liquid rubber that dries solid and is used to coat things like tool handles. It's like a Dairy Queen dipped cone. :) I've used it extensively and I think it should give you just what you're looking for without too much bulk.

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  6. This was a big problem on my vintage mixte - whenever I would wear boots like these, the entire length of the zippers would rub.

    I'm not sure I understand how this could happen. Did the inside of your pant leg rub the frame when you wore pants? Did your leg itself rub when you were bare-legged? As a large-calved mixte rider myself, I'm having a hard time imagining what you're talking about.

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  7. I would try covering the frame rather than the boots. Can you make something pretty out of fabric that wraps around the stays?

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  8. The distance between the plane of your pedals (distance) is sometimes called Q-factor. People more often then not like a low Q, where the pedals are closer to the centerline. More modern cranksets tend to have a higher Q.

    Some folks, however, prefer a higher Q crankset.

    Sounds like your new mixte may have a different frame design and/or your crankset has a higher Q then your vintage bikes.

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  9. Time for proper toe clips! Pedals with longer axles too.

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  10. Thanks for the solution suggestions, everyone!

    Blume - I have fairly narrow calves, so when I am bare-legged, or wearing tights and shoes, nothing rubs. The tall boots introduce an extra width around the calf, and that's when the rubbing happens. And it's not the rubbing in itself that I mind, but the fact that a metal zipper is doing the rubbing. Hope this makes sense. Have you ever worn tall boots with zippers on the inseam on your mixte? I think you have to try it to see what I mean.

    Chris - Yup, I think it is a bit of both. The Sugino Alpina crankset on my new mixte definitely has a higher Q than the vintage Motobecane crankset did. And the mixte stays on the new bike are a bit less flared out.

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  11. Yes, I have this problem too! I started riding a mixte in March and have been looking for pull on boots or ones with zippers in the back or outside since then. I have yet to find what I'm looking for. I don't think taping the tabs down will do the trick for me because it's the body of the zipper tab that hits the frame.

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  12. Steve - I am considering getting PowerGrips for this bike like on my roadbikes, but part of me thinks I need to fight the foot retention addiction - or next thing I know, I'll be getting them on my Gazelle as well. I think MKS Touring pedals already have pretty long axles, no? If I am wrong, then I am open to suggestions for alternatives; I don't think I know of any.

    Karen - Let me know if you do find a solution, and I will likewise.

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  13. on surfaces that get scuffed/rubbed/abraded that i wish to preserve, i've had good luck with clear adhesive-backed vinyl. we use all sorts of different clear adhesive sheets in the lab for sealing 96-well culture plates, and they work quite well repurposed for this! i cut them into narrow strips and use them as invisible chainstay protectors. you could cut small pieces and affix them to the stays similar to kara's idea, except that they'd be more or less invisible. car makers actually strategically place this stuff on areas on the paintwork that are especially susceptible to chipping.

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  14. I had something sort of similar with an old leather flight jacket, the zipper tab would clink against the zipper itself. I took a leather bootlace, looped it around the tab, brought the ends through the hole and tied a knot next to the hole then cut off all but an "inchertwo". It was nice and quiet after that and I had a little tail to pull instead of just the tab. Maybe that would work for this problem, just don't leave the tails long enough to get in the chain...

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  15. I like the idea of replacing the tabs with leather or ribbon tabs. But you could also use the electrical "shrink tubing" that you heat with a blow drier.

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  16. Somehow the tab of the zipper on my tall boots got yanked, bent and broken by my Betty Foy last year. I don't even know what happened, but Betty definitely won.

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  17. Somervillian's solution may be the best. Motorcyclists often use clear sheeting like that on their gas tanks to protect against belt buckles. Or, in a pinch, you could fold the tops of the socks over the zipper.

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  18. Huh, I had never considered this problem. Now I'm curious and am going to have to go put on some tall zippered boots and see what happens on my mixte. I've only worn the wellies so far, and the top edge of those boots will catch on the stays.

    I'm with Step-Through, could you think of something attractive/not distracting to put on the frame in the area where the zipper makes contact?

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  19. Dottie - Oh, I am sorry to hear that! I am guessing it was one of the components that did it, rather than the frame, otherwise you'd probably see marks on the frame.

    I will try the clear vinyl a la somervillain, and I actually *have* been folding the socks over as a temp solution. It more or less works, but I am always afraid the metal tab will go through the sock and wreak havoc : )

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  20. Amy - That happened to me when I tried to wear rain boots on my vintage mixte last year. The super wide top edge got caught on the upstroke!

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  21. As sad as it sounds, I think you should exclude these boots from your mixte rotation. They will eventually scratch the stays and that'll be so sad...

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  22. I haven't had this problem, but My Nishiki Sebring mixte had a side pull rear brake with a little quick release lever that kept getting released when I was riding in pull-on mid calf boots.
    Very annoying and dangerous!
    I've since changed the brake to a centre pull with the cable running neatly through the middle.

    Great blog as well - I read it every day.

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  23. "As sad as it sounds, I think you should exclude these boots from your mixte rotation. They will eventually scratch the stays and that'll be so sad..."

    it's called beausage! not unlike never cleaning one's drivetrain :-)

    velouria, let me know if you want some of those adhesive sheets to try out.

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  24. Instead of electrical tape, try gaffer tape. It is absurdly expensive, but it is a cloth tape that is removable and re-stickable, and it doesn't leave a residue behind. It does come in different colors, but I tend to stick to the classic black. I find it superior to even duct tape in usefulness.

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  25. So I had this problem (granted in a horseback riding saddle and not a bicycle!) with an old pair of riding boots as someone at some point had zippers installed on the insides of the boot which included a hefty zipper pull. In the interest of not damaging my or my trainer's saddles, I covered the pulls in black felt. It looks much nicer and is much more subtle than using electrical tape. Now, I did glue them on the pulls, which you may not want to do since it's kinda permanent, but I'm sure there are other less permanent ways to affix them. Good luck!

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  26. What if you twined the stays with thinner twine than you would use on grips or the water bottles? It would be attractive and if it wore excessively it could be easily(ish) re-done.

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  27. The most sensible solution is MDI's. Use some other shoes when riding the mixte. If you feel like wearing the boots, use one of your other bikes. Use your creativity for solving larger problems than this

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  28. Ooooh, yes, I twine the mixte stays now... Where is the shellac, in the kitchen cupboard, yes?... Can I haz? BRB--

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  29. Thanks for the heads-up!

    I think now of the top-tube protectors that are made for track bikes. Surely there must be an equivalent for mixte stays.

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  30. Have you ever worn tall boots with zippers on the inseam on your mixte? I think you have to try it to see what I mean.

    I do all the time in the winter! And bulkier boots, too, like a couple different kinds of Fryes. I think I must have just gotten lucky with the mixte frame + pedal combinations I've had.

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  31. Blume - Okay, now I am really curious, what kind of mixte do you ride?

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  32. It's a Takara, exact vintange unknown to me, but probably from the early 80s. I just looked at the shape of the twin tubes more closely, and they do bow in a bit where they go by the seat tube. Maybe that's the difference? I've never compared that area on my bike to other mixtes; I'll have to look tomorrow at the couple of other ones that park where I work. The start of a long-range mixte comparison study!

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  33. I came here to suggest the same thing Somervillian did - clear and subtle vinyl protection, that you can even remove once boot wearing season is over. Certainly easier than having to eliminate the awesome boots from your cycling wardrobe! :-)

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  34. How's it ever going to get character if you don't let it get any wear from use?

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  35. I have a pair of long shorts (capris, I guess?) that have buttons to fold them higher. These kept clicking against my top tube (on a diamond frame). One day, it actually caught the rear brake cable, as I was pedaling... Very exciting times!

    I snipped off those buttons now. ;-)

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  36. if you're still checking on comments: what did you do and how did it work? i'm facing this exact problem. even went to the fabric store to see if they had rubber booties i could slip onto the zipper pull (alas, they don't).

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