I’m Sick of Pinning Numbers

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The above statement isn’t true in the short term. I’d love to be pinning numbers on each and every weekend right now, but I’m still hurt, so I can’t. But, long term, pinning numbers is a drag. I can’t believe that someone hasn’t come up with something better to hold the numbers yet. I did a post a few months ago about pinning numbers. It was more about proper number pinning, not the whole process in general.

In general, it sucks. Especially this time of the season, cyclocross. Trying to get your numbers on at a cross race without someone else’s help is nearly impossible. Gettting 4 numbers to lay flat on a skinsuit, while not wearing it, is beyond impossible. Plus, safety pins tend to rip holes in lycra much easier than just a normal jersey. It isn’t close to optimum.

I had heard people using rare earth magnets to hold numbers. I finally got my hands on some and think that it is a good start, but might take a little refining to get it right. If you’ve never had a chance to mess around with super strong magnets, you should order some just to play around. They aren’t expensive and they almost seem magical. Here is a link on Amazon.

I tried to put a number on with just some small magnets and the number slipped out from underneath. But, I see the potential. I saw a company, Racedots, that is making number specific magnets. They are shaped a little different and hopefully will hold the number more secure. They are $40 for 10, which won’t get you to the line in a cross race. I figure you need 9 for a big number(if you’re using the pinning pattern below), so that would be 18, then at least 4 more for each shoulder number, so you need a minimum of 26.

On my earlier post, someone left a comment about using 3M Spray Adhesive 77 to secure numbers. I’ve never tried it either, but right after the post, I was at a local race in Lawrence and saw a guy spraying his number and he raved about it. A can of it is 40 bucks, so you’d better be able to secure a lot of numbers with one can. I’m planning on getting some and trying it out, on an old, junky jersey first.

Okay, I’m just throwing this out there again, trying to get some comments, ect. about how to get rid of these stupid safety pins. I have probably gone through 100,000 pins in my life. Seems like a total waste. There has to be better choices.

Rare Earth Magnets.

Rare Earth Magnets.

I usually pin the number on all side, including a pin on each side, between the corners, plus it is becoming standard, a pin in the middle on the number to hold it down flat.

I usually pin the number on all side, including a pin on each side, between the corners, plus it is becoming standard, a pin in the middle on the number to hold it down flat.

51 thoughts on “I’m Sick of Pinning Numbers

  1. Mark

    I’ve tried the rare earth magnets from amazon and they are so powerful they pull onto one another – they don’t stay put. Maybe the Racedots have the strength just right.

  2. jpete

    I have found that you can get a can of super 77 labeled as a Scotch product I think at Target for less than 10 bucks. I think it works pretty well. The trick to reducing residue is allowing a little longer dry time.

  3. Luke

    The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association has a great solution: They hand out cloth numbers annually, so you race with the same number all year, in any OBRA-sanctioned event. Pin your numbers at home in advance, or use the 3M spray adhesive. Washable, no flapping in the wind, better-looking, ecological…

  4. Rich W

    Super 77 is great but it can leave a residue but that can be eliminated with some spray adhesive remover.

    I haven’t pinned any numbers for years and sometimes forget to remove the numbers in the wash and they still stay solidly adhered!

  5. jpete

    True, but 4 pins are better than 8 especially if the number isn’t moving at all because it is adhered. Could also just run the pins only through the number and adhere it giving the illusion of a pinned number.

  6. Wildcat

    Can’t help you with the number issue. However, I’ve always been told to keep magnets away from computers/other electronics (noting the picture above). Anyone know if this is just a myth?

  7. Neal Anderson

    Super 77 is a great option, but there are some pointers I got from a friend that really made it work well.
    1. It won’t stick on a jersey if you’ve sweated in it first. Warm up with the numbers already stuck on or with a different kit.

    2. spay it on the number and wait 30-40 seconds (until tacky) before sticking it on. If you stick it right away, it won’t stay on as well, or maybe not at all.

    3. Use “goof off” to remove any residue. I keep some by the washing machine.

    4. Keep some”goof off” in your car because you will have one sticky finger from over spay. it made my finger stick oddly to my shifter once.

    5. the price at home depot should be around $10 and I go though about 1 can per year.

  8. wasfastnowimnot

    Go F1, Moto GP or NASCAR style. Assign everyone a number and get them sublimated!! 😉 No logistical issues at all!! Honest! for sure! really!!

  9. Tom A.

    Super 77 FTW! Here’s a couple of tips for use:
    – Remove the number immediately after the race to minimize sticking and residue.
    – Lightly spray any residue with “Goo Gone” citrus spray prior to putting the kit in the washer. Wash as usual and no residue will be left.

    Boom. Done.

  10. gerrycurl

    Even sadder is that so many officials choose to vigorously enforce this exact rule, when they routinely overlook the finer points of the free lap rule, etc. The word “pins” needs to be stricken from the rulebook. Numbers should be securely fastened and visible. That’s all. If the official can’t read your number, then he or she has wide latitude to say that it’s not visible. Simple. The method of fastening should be irrelevant and should be on the rider to figure out.

  11. gerrycurl

    If you spray too much Super 77 on, it will REALLY stick to the jersey. Spray a normal amount to cover it, wait 30-45 seconds and THEN lay it down. Super-77 is really sticky stuff. It’s basically vaporized rubber cement.

  12. Dennis C

    Apparently Peter Stetina hates pinning too. I think that his idea is that all cyclists could be assigned a number that would be used in all races. The number could then be printed on their jersey.

  13. Tim

    Oh geez, don’t use Super 77! That stuff is super nasty and is permanent adhesive. We used to use in the graphic design world for paste-ups before digital. It is super, super sticky, super messy, and it would likely ruin a jersey. It’s much worse than safety pins in my opinion!

  14. The Instigator

    This is nothing new but putting one or two pillows – depending on how massive one’s upper body – into a jersey or top part of a skinsuit is an easy way to pin numbers without the need for a body to be inside either.

  15. Tom A.

    It does not. Use the tips I posted above. Your experience using it for it’s intended purpose unfortunately happens to not apply for using it for cycling numbers. I’ve used Super 77 for TTs and crits for quite a number of years with not a single ruined jersey or skinsuit due to its use.

  16. Psyclguy

    I don’t understand why all race organizers don’t print the numbers on a peel off sheet with adhesive backing. Just peel them off and stick on. Simple solution. But, it would need to be a universal rule for all organizers to justify the extra expense.

  17. H Luce

    The one poster above who said RFID had it right – there’s no chance for spotters to get things wrong, no wrong race orders or times, and using facial recognition software, if you’ve got video on someone, you can ID them, no need for numbers at all…

  18. M Horn

    I use carpet tape. I put 4 strips of 1/2″ carpet tape around the border of the number. Then I can stick the number on my jersey or skinsuit myself. Once it’s in the correct position and rubbed in a bit, I can take my jersey or skinsuit off and then pin the number. After the race I can remove the number and peel the carpet tape off of the number. No residue to clean up and it does not damage the jersey. I’ve never used just the tape without the pins.

  19. RLCG

    Reading these comments it came to my mind, fashion tape. It is a double sided sticky tape that we women use to tape clothing to stay were we need it to stay. It has a strong hold but it easy to remove, not too expensive, comes in different shapes, will hold in sweat and if gets washed it doesn’t ruin clothing. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. I will have the bf use it on his CX race and see how it goes.

  20. gerrycurl

    Hot melted wax for paste-ups. Super-77 was just for mounting comps. Old-skool graphic design in da house.

    If you know what you’re doing, and wait 30-45 seconds after spraying, it’s not nearly as sticky as if you applied it when wet.

  21. Bill K

    I’ve always been a fan of the 9 pin method, always will be. I enjoy the few relaxing minutes spent with the jersey over the steering wheel.
    Skinsuits are a little more work, but a good pin job make me feel faster.

  22. Scott Mathewson

    I feel your pain and dislike the process as much as you do. I race with some friends that use the spray adhesive and I like it. The trick is that you have to have someone with you to do it properly. You spray the adhesive on the back of the number and let it dry for about 45 seconds to 1 minute until tack and almost dry, then someone has to put it on the skinsuit or jersey while you are wearing it and in the riding position. It works great and when you are done, you just peal off the number and wash the jersey. No residue.

  23. tom bengel

    If we crumple the number as in the picture here in Minn the MCF officials yell at you. We can’t even crumple the numbers ’cause then they can’t read them ! With chip timing why do we need numbers ?
    Going to try cloth permanent numbers here for ‘cross this year. What is the best way to attach cloth numbers ?

  24. channel_zero

    No, actually, RFID is not the silver bullet you think it is. That near field stuff is tricky business, then you want to get it dirty, wet, go too fast by the reader, and more error conditions.

    The best solution is a transponder. Bigger, generates a signal with power onboard. That way the reader can be 10-12 feet in any direction. Very low error rates, but expensive.

    By low, I mean .5% or lower. At big running events, 1% error rate can be many people.

  25. Michael

    I have protested my place in races with a chip timer a couple times. The officials relied on it instead of manually tracking the results. Luckily for me they used video as well and confirmed the chip timed result was not correct.
    In addition, the chip timers are usually worn on ankle. The winner is the first riders wheel to the line not the first ankle.

  26. H Luce

    It seems like transponders are right now being used for various kinds of bike racing, including track racing in Japan: http://www.mylaps.com/en and they’re pretty cheap, reliable, and accurate. Moreover they could be programmed with a rider’s license number(s), and return telemetry data on the rider as well, which might make it possible to calculate the chances of a particular rider using performance-enhancing drugs, the rider’s power output, and so on.

  27. Rebecca

    WD40 removes the Super77 adhesive from clothing if it doesn’t come off with the number and it doesn’t appear to fade lycra.

  28. SB

    I spray the backside of the number with 3m 77, while wearing the jersey/skinsuit zipped up, slap the number on (or get a friend to position it correctly), then rub on a doorframe or something to get pressure / smooth it out.

    Wait a couple minutes, then take off the jersey and pin with 4 safety pins.

    Works great, no more flapping numbers or pulled jersey fabric, it’s faster and less stressful than the old way. Yes it leaves residue but so what… doesn’t bother me.

  29. KC

    I used the magnets Steve has pictured all this season. However they are a bit finicky, and I put a bit of prep time into their use. My best results with them involved using an extra/old number on the inside of the jersey with the magnets taped in position on it. Additionally, I would tape the magnets onto the race number to match. This worked well for a number I used throughout a Tuesday night worlds season (+10 races), but was a bit of a hassle for single races.

  30. Wildcat

    Here’s the official four-step procedure of race number application:

    1. Get number and pins
    2. Find good looking lady
    3. Hand number and pins to lady
    4. Assume the position


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