Safety pins are such a ubiquitous item when it comes to competitive cycling that "to pin on a number" has become the standard vernacular for lining up for a race. Racer and filmmaker Jason Berry aims to change that with his new invention, RaceDots, that replace the pins with a clever array of handy magnets.
Berry says his goals were to create a way to attach race numbers securely and easily without poking holes in your jersey — or yourself. Berry's RaceDots solution sandwich the number and clothing in between a pair of rare earth magnets, which are also keyed to prevent them from migrating once positioned.
Berry claims that RaceDots are easy to apply yourself, meaning you'd no longer have to plead for last-minute help, and nickel plating also supposedly gives RaceDots good corrosion resistance. Colored plastic 'domes' on the outer magnet will be offered in multiple colors, too, which opens the door up to potential customization. Even better, there are even reflective options so that you can add nighttime visibility to garments that otherwise would be hard to see after the sun goes down.
The genius of RaceDots is the simplicity. Of course, that also brings up the thought that racers could easily replicate the idea using commonly sourced items from a hardware store – which is exactly how RaceDots got started. However, Berry says the additional refinement and convenience of the finished product justifies the still-reasonable US$25 (approximate) retail price.
"Sure, you can get some magnets and hope they work," he told BikeRadar. "But with any product that is refined, chances are the inventor went down that road and made their product better for specific reasons learned through R&D. When I started the process I did exactly what you mentioned."
Berry then went on to outline his development process – which apparently entailed a lot of trips to Home Depot and searching online.
"I dropped $10 on a pack of rare earth magnets from Home Depot," he said. "Turns out their breaking point does not equal the strength of their magnetic attraction – every one of them snapped to another magnet, then they broke in half. So I went back and dropped another $15 on some that were much bigger and 1/4" thick. They were so strong it was very hard to separate them. So I ordered some online, spent another $25 (with shipping) to get 1/8" with a pull resistance around 4lbs. I tried these and they worked ok but they were very hard to move once on the jersey. So I glued a little handle to them. That worked but it wasn't aero. Then I started researching different sized clear, acrylic domes as shown online. And still, two flat disc magnets will not "lock" together which is a tremendous help when using these on a jersey (especially solo without a friend to help)."
Like the idea? RaceDots aren't yet available but you can help Berry bring them to reality by contributing to his crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.