Tuesday, March 22, 2016

RaceDots: Magnetic Bib Holders Review

The Basics

RaceDots are magnetic bib holders for runners and cyclists that are used to hold your race bib (number) in place on your clothing without making holes like safety pins do. They consist of very strong, interlocking magnets that come in a variety of designs. The front magnet has the design and the back magnet (the piece that goes under your clothing) is made like a ring with a center hole that fits over a bump in the back of the front magnet. The magnets come in sets of four to secure each corner of your bib, just as you would do with safety pins. You can also buy them in sets of 5, 10, or as singles. They come in many attractive designs/colors and are rustproof so they won't stain your clothing.

The Down and Dirty

RaceDots are a great idea. Who wants to poke holes in expensive technical clothing all the time? Plus you're not wasting a bunch of safety pins, because who remembers to turn them back in to be reused after a race, or remembers to bring some you've kept before to use next time? Some runners just throw them away. RaceDots can be kept on the card they come on and be used over and over.

Front magnet
I've had a chance to use RaceDots while running several times now and while I would have liked to tell you they are just as great as you can imagine, I can't. The first time I used them, I hated them. They distracted me the whole 5k. The tech shirt I wore was fairly loose and the weight of the magnets was constantly pulling on the shirt. It was as if I had little weights hanging from my clothes. It was also a cool morning and they were cold against my skin.

back magnet
The next time I used the RaceDots, I decided a more fitted top might help. It was definitely an improvement and I was able to forget about them during the race. However, some other problems still persisted. The coldness, of course, I don't know what could be done about that, perhaps covering the back magnet in some fabric? The biggest problem I've had using RaceDots is in placing them on my clothing to begin with. I had a lot of bunching of both the bib and my shirt and then the magnets trying to stick to each other when I was trying to secure the next corner. The company does sell a device they call the Arranger to help with putting the RaceDots on your clothing, but I don't have any experience with that. It does seem like it would help but do I really want to put that much work into getting my race bib on my shirt? And it does not sound comfortable at all. In their how-to videos, they recommend putting the dots on (while wearing your shirt) and then sliding them into place. I had a very hard time trying to slide then once they are stuck together, I think flat magnets may work better in this regard.


I often wear my bib on my shorts instead of my shirt but I didn't feel comfortable sticking my hands inside my shorts in front of a bunch of people to place the RaceDots, so I have not tested them on shorts. I've also only tested them using all four dots, when I know many runners who only fasten their bibs at the top. I may still try these other methods and will update this review if I do to include info on how those work out.
(you're not supposed to put them together like this)

Summary

I really like the idea of RaceDots, and I really wanted to like them. Using them is just more frustrating than it's worth. I want my race prep to be quick and simple; I don't want to have to fuss with a complicated bib attachment. Now, if I had a shirt that was expensive, delicate, or an irreplaceable favorite, it would definitely be worth the trouble of attaching the RaceDots instead of poking holes in it with safety pins. Other than that situation though, safety pins work just fine for this runner.

Sorry, RaceDots, I really wanted to like you. Perhaps if there were something like the Arranger that could be removed after attaching the magnets to the bib and shirt that would solve the majority of the issues I encountered.

RaceDots provided me with this product for review purposes. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to write this review.

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