Virtually all athletes who’ve participated in a ride, run, triathlon, or other event where bib numbers are worn know the need for safety pins! Whether you keep a stash in your car or brave the availability at registration, you can’t affix your bib number without them! So you get 4 pins and lay down your expensive jersey to figure out the best place to pin your bib. As find the most inconspicuous place to poke the first hole, you cringe a little because that $100 jersey is now and forever “damaged goods”. We don’t know what we don’t know until a smart guy like Jason Berry rolls around and decides to make all our competing lives infinitely better!
Full disclosure, I am part of the Gripped Racing Cycling Team, owned by RaceDots founder, Jason Berry. As such, I’ve been able to get my hands on a set of Gripped Racing branded RaceDots and helped prototype the new RaceDots Arranger! Sounds badass, like a set of superheroes…I know! And they are – hence this review.
For those of you who don’t know how RaceDots work, let’s put it this way, you do! It’s incredibly simple and frankly, a genius idea! Ready for it? It’s…two magnets! Earth magnets, actually and the strongest ones out there – believe me, taking them apart can take a few tries and they definitely didn’t want to stay still for some of the pictures. The concept is simple: you put one on the outside of your bib number and the other on the inside of your jersey or shirt. Voilà! A bib number that stays put with no holes in that expensive jersey or event shirt that you happen to be wearing for the event! The well thought out part (which is now patented) is that the front magnet has a little bump on the back that fits nicely into the center of the donut-shaped back magnet, keeping them firmly in place.
The RaceDots Arranger is a rather new product, only getting released in the past few months. It’s a very flexible, smooth, silicone rubber with mounting pockets for the back magnets. The pockets are arranged as such to allow for all sorts of mounting positions, race numbers, and flexibility with various torsos and quantity of desired RaceDots. The Arranger goes under your jersey or shirt and holds the number and keeps the RaceDots from slipping too close together. All you need to do is let the top magnets find their spots and you’re good to go!
Officially, my first experience with RaceDots was in 2015 with a local Criterium (my first ever!). Jason suited me up with a vinyl, prototype RaceDots Arranger and a set of RaceDots for my bib number. It felt stiff and a little awkward, but hey it was a prototype – that’s allowed! He was sharing with me how his idea came from trying to use RaceDots with skin suits where it’s harder to position the RaceDots and bib number around once the suit is on. I lasted about 4-5 laps (I’m told the beginner category was exceptionally fast that day, in my defense) before getting pulled, but I definitely noticed the plastic and magnet contraption on my right side from time to time. We both agreed a softer material was needed, like silicone.
A few weeks later, I did the Ride to Recovery (40 miles in Arlington) with pins in another kit and dreaded fixing my number. Long story short, I actually lost one of my two safety pins and my number started flapping around everywhere – really annoying until another rider gave me one of his pins which of course meant even more holes in my jersey.
Fast forward 9 months when I first used my own set of RaceDots and the final silicone RaceDots Arranger. And HOLY CRAP, they’re amazing! It was April 30, 2016, the day I proposed to my fiancé, and I’m standing in line at registration to sign the waiver and get my bib number for the 50 mile charity ride, Ride for Hope, supporting mental illness, in Raleigh, NC. I finally get my number and offered some pins, to which I said “I’m good, no thank you”, with a certain air of cool factor, knowing all these other riders we’re going to be poking holes in their nice riding kits. I get back to the car and easily put the inside magnet into the RaceDots Arranger, matching the size of the bib number to the arrangement of pockets – all in all, took me less than 5 minutes to open the packaging, get the back magnets in place, and get it on my jersey. Super simple and my Gripped Racing team jersey was still as beautiful and undamaged as they day I bought it!
While it fit and felt fantastic in a cycling jersey, I can imagine a looser fitting shirt on a runner might feel a bit bulky or heavy with the Arranger. That’s where the RaceDots by themselves are incredibly strong and work great without the Arranger. In my opinion, I’d probably forego the Arranger on a run and keep them for my tighter fitting cycling jerseys.
Can’t really say these bad boys will make you go faster, longer, or harder, but they do exactly what they’re intended for – to keep your bib number attached without poking any holes in your jersey while looking damn good too! Plus, if you have extras (I got the 10 pack), you can use the back magnets on your fridge! BEWARE: they’re impossible to get off without something underneath you can lift up and detach the magnet from your fridge! So much better than the cheapo ones I’ve collected so far.
In conclusion, I will never ride or run another event with a bib number without my RaceDots and, when it makes sense, the RaceDots Arranger. I’ve grown my collection of memorable and not cheap jerseys (Gripped Racing, a San Diego State jersey, a Pinarello Tour de France themed jersey purchased from the Pinarello shop in Treviso, Italy, and kits from my former employer made by Capo) that the last thing I want to do is poke ugly holes that can only grow the more I wear them. With RaceDots, problem solved and better than ever! You can get both RaceDots and the Arranger at www.racedots.com