Clothes Woes: Fabric Blight

There’s really no polite way to put it. When you spend a lot of time on a bicycle saddle pumping your legs up and down, the rear crotch area below your sit bones is usually the first thing to wear thin.

While proper fitment and good form can reduce the amount of friction this part of your clothing encounters, the fact remains that the constant rubbing on your saddle will eventually wear through almost anything, regardless if it’s a high-end chamois or a pair of heavy duty denim jeans.

Much like Guitar Ted, I also ride in regular clothes in winter. On longer rides, I wear cargo pants or jeans over my summer cycling shorts or mountain bike chamois liner. It’s simple. It’s cheap. And, when the fabric starts to wear thin, I’ve found that I can get a few more months out of them by using iron-on knee patches, such as these. They come in pairs, and cost less than $2:

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I would ocasionally stumble and tear the knees up on my play clothes. My mom would iron these onto the inside of my pants behind the knee to repair and reinforce the fabric. A few weeks ago, I took one of them, cut it in half, then ironed it onto either side of my cargo pants which (as you saw above) were wearing thin.

Even through the other side wasn’t showing any holes, I reinforced both sides.

Last weekend, I was wearing these patched cargo pants when I attempted a rather chilly 200km permanent — a type of Randonneuring endurance ride. I only made it 82 miles before I timed out and called my wife for rescue. They’re still holding up nicely. I’m suspecting I’ll get through the whole winter with these (and a few other pairs of pants I use regularly, of course)

For $1.20 or so, I breathed new life into pants that I use mostly for my short winter rides. Replacing them would have probably cost $20 or more. I’m sure many readers have suffered from fabric blight, so I hope this comes in handy!

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0 thoughts on “Clothes Woes: Fabric Blight”

  1. Tony Bullard says:

    I found that patches denim tends to wear around the patch itself before it wears through the patch. Those things are tough. You can even use the to reinforce seems that are coming apart. Those things are priceless when it comes to keeping old clothes around for longer.

  2. Arleigh says:

    Thanks Noah, I just ripped through a pair of jeans in the past couple weeks.

  3. Mark says:

    I recycle jeans themselves into patches. I cut up the old jeans into patches and sew them into newer clothes. Works like a charm. When I last did it, all my pants were already sprouting holes. When I buy a new pair of pants, I think I will pre-reinforce them this time and see if that keeps the outer layer whole longer.

  4. Julie D says:

    My husband commutes in regular clothes, except that he wears $3.00 pants from goodwill and rolls up his work pants in his messenger. This has saved us a ton of dough!

  5. siouxgeonz says:

    Won’t the layer so close to the skin cause chafing?

  6. Rick S. says:

    Thanks for the tip!! I’ve been lamenting the early loss of otherwise good pants. What about just getting a few real cheap shorts and wearing them over your pants? If you wanna be stylin’ just get a few basic colors than go better with your pants.

  7. locus says:

    Has anyone noticed any difference in fabric wear patterns depending upon your seat material? My Jamis started out with a stock saddle that had pleather and nylon fabric. I quickly switched it over to an all-leather Brooks but never noticed any problem with wear on my wool slacks (I also bike to work in “regular clothes”). There should be significantly less friction with a leather saddle vs. any other material.


  8. That’s a great idea. I couldn’t even tell you how many pairs of pants I’ve worn the seat out of in the last two years, but it’s more that seven.


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