The Mysterious Case of the Scuffed Bibs

I’ve been a bit perplexed at some rather unusual scuffing and fraying of my bibs. The scuffing, which I first noticed after the last Trek group ride, is about the size of a quarter and is located on the inner right leg of the bibs. When I noticed it I thought perhaps it occurred during the wash as a zipper or loose velcro fastener can easily damage the lycra. I made a mental note to both bag the bibs before tossing them into the wash as well as double checking all zippers and fasteners before hitting the cycle button. That should put an end to the issue.

 

On a subsequent ride I noticed some very light scuffing on another pair of bibs, but just let it slide as normal wear and tear. I found more slight scuffing on yet another pair of bibs after an “old fart run”.

The scuffing on all three bibs was virtually identical. I normally wash all my kits on Thursday, which discarded my original hypothesis of stray zippers or velcro in the wash, so it must be occurring on the bike itself.

I tossed on a pair of bibs and mounted up to take a few spins around the block, carefully looking for any signs of rubbing/abrasions. I logically thought the saddle was the culprit. Perhaps it had moved a bit on a previous ride. Close inspection showed it was right on the money, and the scuffing was significantly lower than the saddle. The saddle was off the hook.

I continued to ride around the neighborhood carefully watching my pedal stroke for any signs of my inner thigh making contact, but regardless what I did or how I pedaled, nothing ever came close to the scuff marks.

The next day I had the Miracles Limb metric century ride. I broke out a brand new pair of Castelli Endurance bibs…by the way, these are amazing high performance bibs with great compression and ride all day comfort…and rode the crap out of them. Sure enough, they showed the exact same scuffing as on my other bibs. It was a fast hard ride, but at no time did I ever feel any unusual rubbing/friction outside of the expected areas. I was stumped.

I was concerned that something must be off on the bike, or perhaps I had altered my riding technique without even realizing it. I was extremely close to taking the bike in for a fitting when on today’s ride the guilty party showed it ugly head…and no it was not Colonel Mustard using a candlestick in the library. It was my lowly seat bag.

The guilty party

I never suspected it as my legs are definitely clear of the bag at all times…or so I thought. You see I’ve been spending a lot of time riding riding in full drops, getting as low as possible to cheat the wind while in pace lines (aero bars are a no-no in pace lines so the drops are the most aero position). While in this position today, I was actually able to feel the incidental rubbing of the velcro strap that attached the seat bag to the seat post, and sure enough, it was exactly in the same spot as the fraying on my other bibs.

So, time to ditch the old seat bag for something new, preferably something that attaches only to the seat rails eliminating all incidental contact once and for all. I prefer a larger bag as I enjoy the redundancy of multiple tubes and CO2 cartridges. My current bag holds 2 tubes, 2 tire irons, 3 CO2 cartridges, mini CO2 valve, my wallet, keys, a multi-tool, a bunch of wet wipes and a couple packets of DZnuts, it’s all packed in tightly, but it fits.

A search of the interwebs revealed a ton of manufacturers, but unfortunately most either were held in place by velcro straps (like mine), or had a seat rail mount, but maintained the seat post strap for stability…features I want to avoid. Further research lead me to an Italian company by the name of Sci’Con.

The Vortex 480 Pro Carbon

Sci’Con’s saddle bags are notable for their retention systems which have no velcro straps. They use instead an ingenious mounting system known as the Roller 2 which basically is a cleat that secures to your seat rails with the twist of a knob, and then you install the bag by matching the cleat with the opening in the binding mount giving it a 1/4 turn to lock it in place….brilliant! It actually also houses two tire levers in the mount itself, freeing up room in the bag!

They are stylish, extremely functional and come in a multiple array of colors and materials. I’m partial to the Vortex 480 Pro Carbon model. It should have plenty of space to pack all the gear I like to carry, without being overly large. It’s a little pricey, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than having to replace costly bibs. I’m dropping the order tonight so hopefully I’ll have it by Friday. Until then, I guess I’ll pair down the gear in my seat pack and just stuff it all into my jersey’s rear pocket.

Route: Coconut-40
Ride Time: 2:03:10
Stopped Time: 17:40
Distance: 37.04 miles
Average: 18.05 mph
Fastest Speed: 25.86 mph
Ascent: 484 feet
Descent: 554 feet
Calories: 2167

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4 thoughts on “The Mysterious Case of the Scuffed Bibs

  1. Thanks for the article! I noticed a similar problem and as soon as I saw the photo of your seat bag I figured it out — my problem was the Velcro strap. I never felt it during a ride — but it is in the right position. Got to get a new bag!

    1. Had I not been wearing my Gore bibs, which are extremely thin/like wearing nothing, I’d probably still be trying to figure out the cause. It was simply the shift in riding geometry, from aerobars to drops, that started the problem in the first place. The new bag from Sci’con should eliminate the problem once and for all.

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