Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wear and Tear

I've been spending a lot of time road cycling lately, and suddenly it seems like all of my gear is falling apart at the same time: Socks are pilling to the point where they no longer look decent. Gloves are developing holes in the fingers. Baselayers are growing threadbare under the arms. A piece of the zipper broke off on my cold weather cycling jacket. And my thermal winter tights are fraying everywhere. The damage to the last two garments is particularly frustrating, because these are "big ticket" items that I was hoping would last for some time. While the jacket is a year and a half old that's still not a terribly long life span. And the tights I've only started wearing this October. It doesn't seem right for things to be wearing out at this rate. Aside from the financial aspect, I am simply too exhausted to start the search for the right gear from scratch. When it comes to cycling clothing, finding the fit and functionality that work can be a nightmare. I don't want to look for new stuff; I want the "old" stuff to last.

Are my expectations unrealistic? I would love to hear from roadcyclists what the typical life expectancy of their clothing is - jerseys, shorts, jackets, etc. If you cycle, say, 5,000 miles a year, what kind of wear and tear do you consider normal?

48 comments:

  1. That's certainly not too much to ask! I've owned a pair of Patagonia winter running tights for about 10 years now and after years of treating them brutally they still look so good that I wear them under a nice skirt when I bike to work and they look as presentable as a pair of tights so I don't bother to change out of them, I just wear them all day. Seriously, they look brand new.
    Not every piece of clothing can last like that but more of it should. When I buy something I want it to last at least 5 years. That's why I buy so much vintage stuff. The quality just isn't there in newer garments, even the expensive stuff.

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  2. I think the single most important determination of longevity of cycling clothing is how it is laundered. Use of the gentle cycles for both washing and drying (low heat) are perhaps best. I often marvel at the remarkable condition of my cycling wear, this includes many items that are ten years old or older.

    David

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  3. V! I think 18 months is a bit short especially for the jacket - I have 4,000 miles on my road bike one year in hot weather and never had anything give out. I'm a home seamstress myself and if I was anywhere near you I would replace the zipper for you.

    I'd take it to a seamstress or tailor and have the zipper repaired. - the entire zipper can easily be replaced (normally). And, with the thermal tights I might call the manufacturer and ask for a replacement. I'm sorry to hear of your equipment problems. I love shopping for bike apparel but only when I don't have to!

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  4. My 1st cycling jacket bought from Mountain Equipment Coop lasted through 4 years of daily use until the zipper malfunctioned and rendered it useless...the 2nd one only lasted just over a year (same zipper issue) so I took it back and was pleased to receive (an unexpected) full credit toward another. It is interesting now to be wearing a 3rd generation of the same basic design; the refinements to the cut and removal of unnecessary details indicates that MEC is paying attention to feedback. So I guess that means that it might be a good idea to contact companies and let them know how their products are faring under day to day use. During Jack Thurston's visit to the Carradice factory (on The Bike Show from Resonance FM), they seemed pleased to show him a bag that had been returned after many years (more than 30!) for a minor repair. They were pleased because it gave them a chance to further refine their products; So I guess it's a good idea to let them know about wear if it seems premature (especially if that customer writes an influential blog!)

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  5. Hand washing and line drying seems to preserve the integrity of my wool cycling garments. I realize line drying in colder climates may not be practical or even possible.......the dryer is seems to be very hard on such delicate items. The Ibex items range from 3-5 years old and have held up well. On the other hand, my Kucharic tights began to fray within the first year of use..... It is an expensive game of trial and error.

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  6. My cycling jacket was obtained used and I've been using it for three years and something well over 12000 miles. And it is still ticking. Regular gloves seem to be lasting less than half that. My winter gloves are on their third season, but I AM in North Texas. I don't put a lot of miles on other cycling-specific items other than shoes. My Sidis are Starting to get tired.

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  7. I am from Kodiak Alaska so the gear I use tends to be thicker and built more like carhartts :P
    My base layers do tend to fall apart faster than expected during some parts of the year.
    I think that every biker is different though and for each one of us there is a separate set of clothing!
    Good luck on the hunt for that perfect set of gear!
    visit my blog to follow me on my cross continental tour this summer at johnsamericabiketour.blogspot.com

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  8. Hey, take it as a sign that you've become a serious cyclist, and have the worn cycling threads to prove it!

    Honestly, that's discouraging news. I haven't been wearing proper cycling attire long enough to go through an entire life cycle, except for a winter cycling jacket that's going on its fourth season. It's starting to fall apart but I attributed it to being a real cheap one. I also have an intermediate-priced pair of cycling shorts that are starting to get pilled in places, after only one season. I guess it applies to cheap and expensive stuff alike...

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  9. Peppy (amazing CyclingPeppy, the)January 7, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    I usually lick my cycling outfit clean several times a day. I will try to improve your cycling tights by chewing them and shedding some fur over that shiny surface.

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  10. Re laundering tactics - I hand wash everything except for the baselayers, which I do put in the washing machine, but only wash occasionally. Not to be disgusting, but wool baselayers can be worn like a dozen times without having to be laundered. The wear on these does not seem to be due to the washing method anyhow, but to friction under the arms.

    FWIW, the garments I've listed are from a variety of brands, so this does not seem to be a manufacturer-specific QC issue either. The only thing these garments have in common is that they were all purchased within the last 1.5 years. Could be that the quality of these things is generally decreasing.

    The (Campagnolo) jacket and (Capo) winter tights are bumming me out particularly, because as far as functionality goes they are very well designed and I had just been about to write up glowing reviews of them. Also goes to show that a meaningful product review ought to include comments on a product's longevity - which is not really possible until you've owned and used it for some time!

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  11. Cycling is an expensive hobby! Now that you are riding a lot, you are discovering that.

    To contradict most of the comments here so far, I will say that the amount of wear and tear you are describing does not seem abnormal to me. How many miles do the winter tights have on them if you've been wearing them since October? If you think of cycling clothes compared to regular street clothes first of all on the bike you are wearing the same thing over and over. So unless you have 3 or 4 pairs of tights in rotation and you wear each only once a week, you need to think of the lifespan not in years but in millage. If you wear the same pair of slacks to work every single day they would probably age very quickly also. Second, you wear cycling clothing harder than you do street clothing, so there is also that. Even the amount of sweating you do makes a difference.

    If you talk to serious cyclists, you will discover that they have a shit ton of clothing, not just a couple of shorts and jerseys. Sometimes they do not want to admit it, but they do. They buy stuff constantly, and if they like something they will buy multiples, because when it wears out that model will be discontinued and like you they do not feel like searching for the right gear again and again. So... no matter what others tell you, this stuff is expensive if you get seriously into it. You just find a way to incorporate it in your budget.

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  12. To be fair, the jacket's zipper issue is only partly in the hands of the company that made the jacket, since the zipper is almost certainly from a third-party supplier.
    Is it marked Campagnolo on the tab?

    I would bet they would make good on it if they knew.

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  13. Tammy - I've worn the tights for maybe 500 miles so far. And I did wear them on every ride, I did not have another pair to alternate with.

    What you've described is exactly why I wasn't sure whether this is about bad luck with these particular garments, or just "normal" for cycling. And you are right that cyclists can be evasive re how much clothing they own, not wishing to appear extravagant!

    Pammie - While not seamstress-level, I am usually able to replace zippers on my own clothes. But! This jacket's zipper is made of some special super light compound and I have not been able to find a replacement zipper made of the same material. Furthermore, the way it is sewn into the jacket is unusual, and the waterproofing seems to depend on it. If I do replace it, I suspect that I may compromise some of this jacket's perfect water and wind proofing qualities, and also it will not match the other zippers on the jacket in colour and material.

    I did contact the manufacturer re getting it replaced, but they have not gotten back to me. The place I bought the jacket from no longer has a relationship with them, so they cannot help either. It is Campagnolo, but apparently the clothing is a separate company from the components manufacturer. If they get back to me, I will update, but given others' feedback I am not holding my breath.

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  14. Corey - Yes, it is branded Campagnolo on the tab and elsewhere on the zipper. I am sure they do not literally make it themselves, but the colour and material are unusual and they may have had it produced to spec. Also, parts of the zipper seem to be somehow bonded witht he fabric they are attached to as opposed to just sewn into it. I would probably need to mail the jacket to them and have them be the ones to replace the zipper in order for it to look right.

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  15. Some of this is unrealistic expectations, some for reals. Your penchant for natural fibers means fingernails are going to wear through wool.

    Is pilling the mark of cheap or is it just what happens? Sometimes the fabric will pill then stop. After a bit the pills can wear off or not.

    The Capo label is fraying but it's sticking out and probably rubbing on something repeatedly. It wants to come off-I'd listen to it. It's still as functional.

    Cycling has become such a dog and pony show that some folks have taken their standards for fashion and work wear to the bike. They're asking for a lot: cutting-edge performance, soft drape, thin fabrics, perfect cut, light weight. Plastic zippers to save weight, but it's plastic for god's sake. Going to Ride Studio and seeing the riders kitted out with immaculate threads doesn't mean they're getting the most durable stuff.

    Throw in you've said your somewhat of a spaz.

    This is kind of up your alley in a marketing/psych way: create desire, new stuff every season. Nothing gets vetted in a 3 month seasonal cycle so the customer becomes the beta tester. People complain when it fails but then many want the latest and greatest.

    Alright, I have some Capo gear and some is very durable, some pieces less so. Basically plastic jersies seem to last forever, shorts are highly variable, but the pad tends to go before the lycra.

    Over here guys in team or club kit have Voler on their asses and chest. I have a lot of their generic stuff and it's very high quality, durable and cheap.

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  16. It is unfortunate that expensive does not always mean well made. While I don't have experience with the brands you mention, I know that in many cases you are paying not for quality but for a large and expensive marketing machine. For what it's worth, I think you are experiencing abnormally short lifecycles. My ibex wool knickers have 5 seasons on them, and still look new. Likewise my Rapha softshell is two years old, with many commuting miles (read, shoulder bag) and has not given a whimper. My vintage pieces also seem indestructible. Good luck with your search!

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  17. I am not complaining about the Capo label coming off, I just used that for illustration. The waist and the ankles are somehow fraying, it's hard to photograph.

    Sure I am a spaz, but none of this wear & tear had anything to do with clumsiness as far as I can tell.

    Before I bought wool, I did try a "normal" jersey and shorts. Pearl Izumi. Got a rash all over my body, so my sensitivity to polyester is not my imagination. Gave it a fair try, with baby powder and everything. Rash after every ride. Also, the seat of those polyester PI shorts pilled after 2 rides! The Capo fleece-lined tights don't give me a rash; must be a different fabric/treatment. No pilling after 500 miles either. I have had zero problems with sensitivity to wool cycling clothes, so all in all it seems like a safer bet when buying. 2 pairs of Ibex shorts/knickers have held up great too, but not warm enough for winter.

    The Ride Studio cyclists dress all over the spectrum. By no means is the majority of them all designery, it's an "anything goes" type of place. Those who have tried Rapha report that the durability is better than other stuff they've worn, though I am resistant. Then again the winter bib tights are on sale...

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  18. Andrew - Most of my cycling clothes are Ibex and Swobo wool, with Icebreaker baselayers and Smartwool socks. The Capo winter tights & Campy jacket are prob my only synthetic garments, for cold weather. I did not buy them because they were expensive; I bought them because they were the only items out of dozens tried that fit me well. This aspect can be tough esp for women.

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  19. FWIW the Riv wool base layer I have is reinforced around the arm holes and is intact there. The rest of it is getting pretty thin, but I've worn it a million times. Cut is long, though, don't know if there's a women's version.

    Might be different coatings on different jersies. Craft makes some excellent base layers that are very soft, if fiber irritation is causing the rash.

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  20. One more before I forget: Wabi Woolens. Lot of good testimonials.

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  21. There is indeed a women's version of Riv's base layer and I got one for the holidays as part of their big sale. Waiting for it in the mail.

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  22. My 30 year old Patagonia base layers are being phased out and replaced with tech wool. Newer Patagonia seems to me not the same but the 30 year review is not yet in.

    Cycling jacket #1 is no-name French,had it 5 years, 8 euro on ebay, already used when I got it, beginning to show age.

    Cycling jacket #2 is a noname Italian rollup-in-back- pocket unstructured windjacket printed with Skala Roland team graphics. That was IIRC a late 80s team. That jacket has been in literally hundreds of offroad spills, been marinated in saltslush, oily roadspray, goose droppings anything you can think of. Still looks good.

    Long lycra tights made of roubaix fabric with the brushed fleece inner face are 5 years old, maybe only a few thousand miles 'cause I've been alternating w/ corduroy knickers(thrift store and home-tailoring) and other stuff. Made by Giordana. Showing wear but still alive. Definitely not "fraying everywhere". Seem less sturdy than previous Giordanas I've had.

    They don't get selected often but I still have a pair of plain lycra tights made by sprinter Sheila Young when she was still using her maiden name. Can anyone date those? 1978?

    Main gloves are cheapo Performance and full of holes but still useable after 15 years.

    The results you've had are far worse than average but hardly unusual. There are a lot of well funded clothes horses out there and they drive the market. Never believe marketing hype. Hype costs someone money. Hype is funded directly out of the money that should have been spent on quality materials and skilled labor.

    You've made no unusual demands on your clothes. No offroading, no racing, no waterbottles in the backpockets, no roadsalt. And you only weigh 125. If your description is accurate I give all the items you mention a complete fail.

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  23. Velouria, how have you found icebreaker? In a comparison of tights and socks, I have found icebreaker tights more durable.

    I think non-bio washing liquid is gentler on wool items too.

    I personally love Haglofs for their durability and cut for synthetic items, particularly shells. But they might be hard to obtain in the US. A lot of people speak well of Rapha, (see Roff Smith's blog for instance), but have not tried it.

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  24. Sorry that should read I have found icebreaker more durable than smartwool.

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  25. I wear almost nothing cycling-specific.

    My favorite cycling shoes are whatever I have on my feet at the time. I can seamlessly become a pedestrian that way, and the only of these "cycling" clothes that ever genuinely wear out are my jeans or cords, in the seat area, and that can be mended.

    "Normal" clothes are just fine for most transportation cyclists' needs, in my opinion, last the longest, and are the most economical for me.

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  26. The retro Castelli merino sweaters I bought this last year have also pilled in the armpits. I think it's just part of being wool and being worn quite a bit (I like to wear them around the house too). When I hand washed them, the black dyes bled and tinted the white to a dirty cream. While I don't mind the dirty cream, it was an unexpected result.

    My latest sweater was a regular men's non-cycling wool sweater. So far, no pilling. I'm beginning to wonder if it's just marino that does this.

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  27. I havn't seent the kind of wear in the baselayer armpits that you describe. I have an Icebreaker 200 baselayer top that I have used extensively and since the beginning of the fall I have had it going back and forth to work for at least 1000-1500 miles. After it got a bit colder I used it more or less 5 days a week. I have washed it probably once a week in 40 C Ariel colour as detergent so nothing fancy, but hangdrying it afterwards. It fits tight, I don't shave my armpits but there is no wear in the armpits. I use some dove 0% alcohol invisible dry deodorant. On the other hand, a few weeks ago the top was drenched and I was using a bit of force to get it off, grabbing it at the back and my finger went through. I often wear a backpack and I did pull quite hard bat that was the weak spot of mine. But checking the armpits on that worn top they dont look thinner than anywhere else. I always make sure to hang my tops to dry after use.

    Granted you probably wear a women's model and you likely have a different bodyshape than mine so it is possible the fit is different in the armpits. Two things you could try is going for 1 size larger (they can shrink a bit in washing, so a nice fit in the store can get very snug after washing a few times) or trying the mens model (xs or s might fit) and see if it has a different fit in the armpits.

    Having the tights starting to fray (I suppose you mean the fabric is visibly worn) sounds like a defect in the fabric. My bib lycra shorts have been used and washed extensively probably at least 2000 miles per pair and one pair has even taken quite a bit of rubbing at the hip (though my legs took most of the fall) in two falls with no fraying. My Dhb bib winter tights did develop a hole at the knee but that was after another fall where my knee took most of it, I'd expect that damage with anything but protective gear, no fraying otherwise. These were also rather cheap at £45 and get good reviews at Wiggle. Granted it is the mens version but the women's version get good reviews too.

    Regarding your sensitivity to certain fabrics it could be that it is not the fabric but some treatment of the fabric such as flame retardant, anti fungal compounds etc, such compounds can be allergenic. These could be manufacturer dependant. Have you experienced the same problems with well washed and worn synthetics? You could try borrowing a well used pair from a friend and see if you have the same problem (if you are willing to play guinnea pig).

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  28. Robert - Agreed! Though I am not talking about transportational cycling here. Transportational vs road cycling are two entirely different types of activities for me, like walking vs jogging.

    Kyklos - I have found the Icebreaker base layers to be the best so far for high-impact activities (compared to Ibex, Smartwool and I/O Bio). The fabric is paper thin yet comes in different ratings for warmth. Flatlock seams and weightless texture, extremely moisture wicking. No complaints, other than the 1.5 year lifespan of the one I wore the most.

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  29. "I havn't seent the kind of wear in the baselayer armpits that you describe. I have an Icebreaker 200 baselayer top that I have used extensively and since the beginning of the fall I have had it going back and forth to work for at least 1000-1500 miles. After it got a bit colder I used it more or less 5 days a week"

    I have two Icebreaker baselayer tops: a 150 and a 200. As far as functionality goes, I find them flawless, just really love them. I've had them for about 1.5 years, wearing them at the same frequency as what you describe. The older one is the one showing signs of wear. I don't think this has to do with mine being a woman's model, but simply with the fact that I've owned and worn it longer. You make a good point about deodorant tough: Mine may be eating away at the fibers and facilitating deterioration. It has caused discolouration over time.

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  30. Just retired my 20+ year old Biemme roubaix tights. They are still warm to wear but the stretch has gone and they are a bit Nora Batty. No experience with natural fibres other than a bamboo base layer I bought a few years ago. Still good, but we don't get the temps to justify wearing it very often.

    Mid price (£50-80) rain jackets do get a thorough seeing to, especially after one of our wettest years on record. They loose their waterproof-ness long before they wear out otherwise, usually only lasting a couple of years.

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  31. I've managed to re-proof my waterproof jacket, after it failed after a year - it's worth washing and reproofing them regularly and you can do it in the washing machine with something like techwash.

    I suspect there's a bit of a bias in our perception that older stuff lasts longer and is better quality - as the things which didn't last have long been forgotten and thrown away. And one problem with natural fibres: my merino base layers (worn on and off the bike more or less continuously in winter) have attracted the moths and probably won't do more than a couple of years before they become string vests...

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  32. I am with Tammy and townmouse on this one...... We tend to have selective memory for how much stuff we buy, with the expensive failures conveniently forgotten. Sorry but 20 or even 5 years is not the norm for cycling clothing that is frequently worn, it is the exception..... Just my 2c!

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  33. Townmouse, we regularly wash them in re-proofing stuff but eventually it stops working. Seams go first, then shoulders, probably from wearing a back pack. When I'm rich I'll buy separate road riding, mtbing and commuting rain jackets.

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  34. Woolens are an investment. That is why I repair inevitable holes in socks, tights, sweaters ...

    http://www.ehow.com/how_6011355_repair-wool-clothing.html

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  35. I have a couple of 20 year old Ibex Turtlenecks, still going strong. I also have quite a few wool tops from the likes of Icebreaker, and smartwool, as well as newer Ibex. I use the handwash cycle on my front load washer and Ivory snow. All my wool is dried on a rack in the basement. No pilling on the tops.

    I have a variety of jackets of different ages and weights for different conditions. I wish some would wear out, so I could justify buying new ones - my fashion sense changes :-)

    What I do wear out is shorts. I usually ride a bit over 10,000 miles per year - half of which is commuting (except this past year, when I stopped working in April). My Lycra shorts usually start to get thin/transparent in the back. Sadly sometimes *I* don't notice, but have to be told! At this stage, they are usually still functional, if not presentable. They get a red X on the label and are rotated into the only under tights drawer. I then continue to use them until they are no longer springy! I think I recently tossed out some 10 year old shorts.

    The number of bike shorts I have may sound excessive, but my collection has eveolved over many years - and I prefer to do laundry just once a week.

    I have maybe 4-5 shorts I keep in the weekend/event drawer, and 6-8 in the commuting drawer drawer, and a few more with the red x on the label. As the weekend shorts get worn, they are moved to commuting shorts. I did recently suffer some sticker shock when buying new shorts. But I have found that I don't like the really cheap ones, even for commuting. So I buy good shorts and just move them through the categories. Most of my shorts are Boure.

    Tights and pants are another thing that can wear out. Years ago I tried some wool tights, but found I'd quickly develop holes under the sit bones from contact. I have a couple of Ibex softshell pants - wool liner with a windproof outer. These hold up well to saddle abuse. There is some pilling in the sit area, but they are also 10 years old and see daily use for winter commuting. I have found that I can get snagging from the velcro that wraps around a seatpost to secure a saddlebag. This has been the biggest source of damage to shorts/tights/pants.

    Overshoes are the thing I go through on a regaular basis. As a commuter and recreational cyclist, I walk a bit in my cycling shoes. Overshoes that don't have a thick rubber sole wear out on the sole. So why not get the ones with the thick rubber sole? Sometimes it gets warm enough during a day long ride to take them off, and packability means I might want something lighter. Same for touring. So I do have one set with thick soles that is for commuting and has lasted forever, but I usually replace the lighter ones every other year.

    Finally gloves. My heaviest winter gloves will never wear out, but I do go through some of the ligher ones, usually wearing at the inside of the thumb. But it usually takes a couple of years. My lightweight liners usually last a couple of years as well. I keep my fingernails somewhat short.

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  36. I live in South Texas, along the coast. The winters here very mild, rarely gets in the 40s. I ride 30 to 40 miles everyday for no other reason except fun. Apparel usually consist of blue jean shorts and a tee shirt. Normal wash and they last for years. Style is ok for those who like it I just like to ride. 65 yrs. and still going. Get out there be safe and have fun.

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  37. I live in the Netherlands and ride 5-7 days a week for 10 kilometers a day, wearing a daypack.

    As someone who works in an outdoor store I have too much merino baselayers to actually experience any wear on them. But I will tell you this.
    For some reason, certain people can chew through merino baselayers while other wear them for years. A representative from Icebreaker once told us not to wear too much antiperspirant and deodorant (apparently two different things when I looked it up) or at the very least let it dry before putting on the shirt. It eats away the fabric.

    Most baselayers, even merino, use some degree of synthetic fibers to increase the durability of the fabric. The more skin-tight the shirt, the higher the amount of synthetic fibers used.

    It might also be because of the way your body is shaped or from the zipper of your jacket (pitzips perhaps?).

    When it comes to pants I am someone who doesn't use any cycling specific clothing, just jeans. Most will last me 1 to 1,5 years before the crotch turns all breezy.
    Only a few extra hardwearing hiking jeans are still fine after 3 years but even those show some wear.
    Cycling is just very hard on the crotch of whatever pants you are wearing. I do agree that just 2-3 months is not very long.

    The same goes for gloves. My last pair of cycling-specific gloves lasted me 2 years. That would add up to 10 months of use. After that the grippy part was gone, a seam was cracked at the gripshift and all of my fingernails came through.

    If the jacket you have is anything like I imagine it to be, replacing the zipper needs to be done at a specialised workshop that has them in stock. If they are taped or even fully waterproof zippers, repairing them can cost you up to $50-$80.

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  38. "I have a couple of 20 year old Ibex Turtlenecks, still going strong..."

    Wow, hadn't realized that Ibex has been around for that long!

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  39. I can't comment on road cycling, but even daily cycling takes a toll.
    High friction will break things down. My job is very phyical, there is alot of running around, moving heavy stuff, going through tight spaces etc..
    I was appalled at how quickly pants would wear out in the seat and the crotch and it was because of all the fast walking/running, bending etc..
    I have a pair of icebreaker leggings which were second hand and had a run on the knee to begin with. After a year-ish of almost always wearing them to work with the biking to and fro, they are now wearing out fast.
    I would say get a few of everything of the gear that you know is well made durable and tough. Alternate even if one pair of gloves or hat is more beloved than others.

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  40. Oops, The Ibex tops must only be 15 years old... I remembered getting them shortly after Fear Rothar moved over, but looking at some Ibex history, it had to be a little later. We do have some original swobo jerseys from 93 or 94.

    I claimed "I have a couple of 20 year old Ibex Turtlenecks, still going strong..."

    V replied "Wow, hadn't realized that Ibex has been around for that long!"

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  41. I've had the same experience as V with an allergic response to Pearl Izumi. In my case it does not generalize to all poly. No explanation.

    I don't like Louis Garneau men's patterns but my sweetie loves the women's clothing. Prices are reasonable and sales occur. Most Garneau items are still made in US or Canada. Everything seems designed with durability in mind.

    The old reliable industry standard brand is Santini. Usually pricy. Prendas Ciclismo at www.prendas.co.uk has the full line at fair prices and there are a few sales. Don't forget shipping, it can be high from UK. Well designed well cut articles with a spandex content should fit more body types in theory and with Santini I think it happens.

    Your luck has been bad. Very few of us could afford to play if clothes wore as quickly as has happened to you.

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  42. I've a 7 year old long sleeve lightweight Smartwool shirt that I wear at least 60 days a year and I swear it still looks good as new. I have a ribbed Icebreaker skin fit that started showing wear after 25-30 wearings. My theory is the Smartwool has a very smooth finish and slides easily under outwear. The ribbed Ibex shirt may create friction causing it to wear faster, including during washing.

    My outerwear experience has shown me that quality softshell material (particularly Schoeller fabric) is amazingly tough and takes years of rough use before showing any wear at all. I've a Gore cycle jacket that shows no wear after 3 seasons. Also have a pair of Sport Hill 3sp softshell pants (not snug tights, but fairly form fitting) that are holding up well - made for XC skiing/running, but are doing just fine for cycling.

    I have not used, but heard a lot of good things about Boure` cycling pants lasting many year. As Boure` was started in Colorado by famed MTB racer Ned Overend, they must make clothing that holds up under his demanding requirments.

    As for comments in regards to rotating several articles of clothing, I find myself doing that to accomodate the range of crazy winter weather in the southern mountains, from teens to 70 in a 48 hour period. My kit rarely stays the same for more than 2 days in a row!

    Good luck finding the best items for yourself. In cases such as yours V, the return anytime policy of REI is hard to beat.

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  43. My experience, transportation riding plus mountain biking.

    My first pair of Sidi shoes were regularly worn for MTB use over 12 years (actually they are now 20 years old and still in occasional use as standbys) Needless to say I'm wearing another pair of Sidi shoes. Very comfortable as well.

    T-shirts, Lowe Alpine, about 15 years old and still good.

    Socks- Coolmax, ex Dupont, now Lorpen. Really excellent. At least 5 years and still going strong. Extremely fast drying and warm. Synthetic fabric allows sweat to wick away from the skin. So comfortable.

    Otherwise I use a lot of secondhand stuff which seems fine. Sometimes zips go but I can replace those.

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  44. Good Luck V! I think you'll have good luck with the company (still) - I tend to agree with you as a hobby seamstress I have never replaced a waterproof (sealed) zipper. Though I have thought about it. A couple of places I source outdoor fabrics and notions are www.seattlefabrics.com and also www.therainshed.com - they sometimes also carry a few chamois type of bike short inserts.

    Seattle fabrics is an outdoor sewing shop run by men! Fun!

    Good luck and let us know what happens!!

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  45. I feel your pain, I am not one for bike-only clothing (especially diaper shorts) but I have had a lot of wear on the crotch of leggings and a stupid amount of lightweight wool socks. As far as jackets go, you might have more luck with a higher quality backpacking wind/rain jacket. These jackets are not quite as streamlined as cycling-specific jackets but way more durable and useful due to less weight-crazy reductions and constant stretching and rubbing of the material. I have had a good gore-tex jacket that has been with me for 6 years on and off the bike that has cinches on the sides to tighten up and reduce any sail-like qualities.
    Also, REI has a 100% no questions asked quality guarentee, I bought some wool leggins their that wore through after a few months, I was able to return them for a full refund and tried a different brand at no extra cost, those also failed and I am now on a third pair and have not had to drop another penny. Same goes for socks. REI is a coop and I have had nothing but good experiences their.

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  46. Just saw that REI has those Ibex Knitty Gritty gloves on clearance and thought of you: http://www.rei.com/product/803450/ibex-knitty-gritty-fingerless-wool-gloves

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  47. Strangely enough, I consider "hardly any" as normal wear and tear. I ride around 5,000 miles a year, split roughly evenly between upright-smiling-at-the-scenery riding around town, and head-down-bum-up-Lycra-cyborg riding. I get through...

    o 1-2 pairs of padded shorts per year. I replace them because the padding has compressed.

    o A pair of padded gloves every two years - the palms wear through.

    o From riding my more sensible bikes, I'm a little heavy on jeans / trousers - they tend to get very thin where the saddle rubs. But often they'll wear out elsewhere too from non-cycling activities.

    That's about it!

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  48. Hello!
    I love your blog! A few questions now that 2012 has rolled around.. Is anyone making 28" x 1 11/2" black tires with white or cream walls? Also.. I just need someone to tell me I got screwed or didn't... But I just bought a 1958 Raleigh Superbe bike - Dark green, all original, in excellent condition, with locking fork, rack, and black seat bag with original tools, catalog, and instruction booklet, and brooks seat. bought it for 1500.00.... The guy was not willing to deal at all... Will someone just let me know if I got took... I don't mind paying current market value.. but I would like to know if I set a new record..Will be happy to post photos as soon as I get it... - Will

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