Aren't my sweat lines sexy?
August 8, 2014 2:26 PM   Subscribe

I cycle with a (timbuk2) messenger bag and I get super nasty sweat lines on my shirt, right inbetween my boobs, where my cross-strap is. I don't even cycle far (rarely more than 5 miles at a time). Is there any solution other than using a rear rack?

Changing is an option, for class but sometimes I'm just going to the store. Should I wear a different material? I really like using my messenger bag, because as someone who has no use of a car it's a lot easier to take with me as I transition between cycling, walking, taking the bus, shopping, etc. i just don't like being a sweat monster.
posted by Aranquis to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you ruling out a rack (the #1 solution to sweat) because you want the messenger bag with you, or is there some other reason? If the former, I would look into a rack that holds your messenger bag in a convenient grab-it-and-go way. Depending on the bag, this might involve finding a rack that doesn't quite work for that, then modifying it for the bag.
posted by anonymisc at 2:41 PM on August 8, 2014

Front basket?
posted by steinwald at 2:44 PM on August 8, 2014

I don't want another shiny thing to appeal to bike thiefs as I live in an urban, high-crime city. That is why I have detachable bike lights, a lock and a cable (for my front wheel). I'm afraid a rack just adds more incentive.
posted by Aranquis at 2:49 PM on August 8, 2014

Messenger pack. Just say no to one strap bags. They cause this irritating chest sweat(i don't even have boobs, or moobs! and it's still terrible!), will eventually hurt your shoulder chronically if you carry anything heavier than a can of soda and a paperback, can shift around annoyingly unless you use that unpadded cross strap, and probably some other reasons i'm forgetting.

My pack is infinitely more comfortable than any messenger bag i ever had, and the good ones don't even make your back sweaty.
posted by emptythought at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rack + milk crate. Use an old inner tube to tie the crate to the rack. When you put the bag in the crate, use the snap-locking strap to attach it to the crate so nobody can grab the bag while you cycle past.
posted by ryanrs at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2014

I have a rack and have bungeed a milk crate to it. I stick my bag in the milk carton and am good to go. I'm pretty sure it makes my bike look less shiny and fancy, because not many things look jankyer than a bike with a milk crate bungeed to it, but I also don't live in a place with a big bike theft problem.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2014

Backpack. No front sweat lines, sometimes a little bit on your lower back. Or the milk crate rack is pretty cool.
posted by amaire at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2014

They make backpacks for biking, which are on a kind of suspension system, so the pack isn't even touching your back. There's a mesh panel and the main pack is elevated. I don't own one, so I can't make any specific recommendations, but that's what I'd look for if I were you.
posted by Weeping_angel at 3:03 PM on August 8, 2014

I'm pretty sure it makes my bike look less shiny and fancy

Seconding this. I work at a bike shop and have never, ever heard of bike rack theft, and in general don't believe that racks make your bike a more desirable theft target.

There are, generally, two kinds of bike thieves:

1. People who will steal anything they can pry off your bike. These are, I suspect, usually addicts or kids. Both of these groups do not generally have the kinds of tools needed to detach a rack, and are only after the lowest-hanging of the low hanging fruit, which is almost always an unlocked front wheel with a quick release. They immediately re-sell what they steal for virtually nothing--often pennies on the real-value dollar. These people will not steal your rack because nobody wants to buy a used bike rack and it's too much of a risk for them to spend 5-8 minutes detaching it.

2. Pro thieves. These people know what's valuable and steal locked bikes with power tools and a vehicle. They either strip your bike and sell the parts or ship it to another market where you won't notice it being sold on Craigslist. These people steal expensive bikes, generally, and commuter whips with racks are not what they're after. The bikes they really want probably don't even have the braze-ons you'd bolt a rack to.

Personally, I locked my bike outside in a sketchy neighborhood in Chicago until after midnight for YEARS with basically the most expensive rack you can buy and nobody ever so much as touched it, to my knowledge. I'm not even sure I remembered to loctite the bolts. My front wheel was stolen, once, after someone cut the cable securing it, and the wheel was worth literally a fraction of the rack's resale value.

Of course, if you don't want a rack for aesthetic reasons, that's totally fine, and you should look at re/load's backpacks. Ortlieb backpacks are also nice and are one of the models with the suspension system Weeping_angel mentions--that's what the gray bars under the straps are. They're also waterproof.
posted by pullayup at 3:14 PM on August 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

I think the rack makes the most sense as a backpack will just move the sweat line from across the front to over the shoulders and outside the breasts.
posted by 724A at 3:47 PM on August 8, 2014

This might sound completely crazy - but I just read some life hack about using pantiliners at the armpits to combat sweating in a pretty dress.

Is there someway to do this inside your shirt and across your chest? Also using antiperspirant across your chest where the strap goes?

Yes, I read too much buzzfeed. (Also, I would use a rack. But that's not what you asked for!)
posted by crankyrogalsky at 4:13 PM on August 8, 2014

Monistat anti-chafing gel, or a Bodyglide anti-chafing product, applied to the area in question 15-20 minutes before you leave the house.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:31 PM on August 8, 2014

After years of riding with a sweaty back and aching shoulders, I switched to a pannier and am much happier. One option for transitioning from carrying bag to bike bag is North Street's convertible backpack/pannier. It is pricey but really well made.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:14 PM on August 8, 2014

If you do decide a rack indeed is an option after all, have a look at the Topeak system. The rack allows you to quick-release the trunk so you can take it with you without messing with bungie cords or straps. The quick-release trunks come in several different sizes.

I guess it's possible for someone to use a hex wrench to steal the rack. I don't live or park in a high-crime area, but if I did I might find a way to make rack removal even less tempting. The other reason I like the quick release system is that the two bikes I use most each have a rack, and I can just put the trunk on whichever bike I want to ride.
posted by The Deej at 6:18 PM on August 8, 2014

If the sweat is really the only issue, I'd at least try using an antiperspirant like Certain Dri on the area in question. I mean, if there's other stuff that doing it a different way also improves, great, but sometimes underarms aren't the only place that can use some. I suggest this as someone with a cross-body bag that can get a bit sweaty on sufficiently warm days even without a bike--I can see the advantage of a rack generally, though.
posted by Sequence at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2014

There are also Backpack Panniers. I haven't tried them, but it sounds like some models are pretty good. The page even lists a messenger bag pannier. I've also seen a clever conversion of an external frame backpacking pack to a pannier/pack, but it sounds like that's overkill for your purposes.

Whatever you do, I'd recommend something involving a rear rack. It eliminates both sweat lines and the strain on your back.

An alternative to the milk crate is a Bucket Pannier, which can be removed from the bike if you don't need to carry anything, and will keep your bag dry in the rain.

And, like pullayup, I've worked in a few bike shops and never heard of rack theft. People steal some crazy things off bikes, but racks don't seem to be among them.
posted by sibilatorix at 7:31 PM on August 8, 2014

No one steals racks, to my knowledge. A bike with a rack, especially a serviceable but cheap-looking one like a Blackburn rack, looks less valuable to most people than a minimalist bike that lacks racks, fenders, and other useful things.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:52 PM on August 8, 2014

I have an older and less fancy version of this Timbuk2 pannier messenger bag. It's convenient, though mine is a bit bulky when worn as a messenger bag. The new one might be less so.
posted by instamatic at 8:26 PM on August 8, 2014

Nobody steals racks. Not even eye-poppingly expensive racks like pullayup's. (Which is almost the price of my whole bike, rack included. Wow.)

You could also wear a shirt that dries faster. A modern cycling jersey, even the cheap no-name polyester ones, will go from wet enough to wring out to dry-looking in about fifteen minutes. Maybe even faster in a low-humidity environment like an air-conditioned building.

Also, if you're worried enough about bike theft that you're choosing componentry based on how attractive you think they are to theives, note that front wheels are extremely attractive and most cable locks are useless. You should get a quick-release for your front wheel and put it into the lock with your rear wheel and frame.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:46 PM on August 8, 2014

Just to second everyone else: the answer to this problem is a pannier rack & in my experience a rack on a bike makes it less likely to be targeted by thieves.

Years ago I commuted to work with a small rucksack. Buying a rack and panniers was a revelation - no more arriving at work with a sweaty back & having to wash and change whenI got to work!
posted by pharm at 2:13 AM on August 9, 2014

Just a (late?) addition: I find that for grocery shopping, racks and panniers actually are imperfect replacements for shoulder bags.

My experience with shopping with panniers (Ortlieb somethings, Axiom Monsoons) is that delicate fruits and veggies (e.g. peaches, tomatoes) are much better off when I carry them on my back. Even when packed at the very top of the pannier. When close to the wheels, they get jostled and beat up way more than they will with my knees, hips, shoulders, and arms as shock absorbers.

Also, one-shoulder bags tend to be better for laying leafy produce across the top, where the bag folds and on top of dry goods, like collards, kale, chard, dandelion greens, etc--there's not an equivalent space in a roll-top pannier.

Which is just to say, I suppose, that panniers may not be a perfect solution to the strap sweat problem, if you find you still need a bag-bag.

But yeah, no one steals racks. (Though commuter bikes are often more of a target than people above claim, especially when they're Surlys or similar.)
posted by migrantology at 5:42 AM on August 9, 2014

You don't even need to get a cycling jersey if you don't want to look like a bike dork walking around a store or restaurant. There are plenty of cheap "performance" t-shirts and the like at Target or similar stores. The benefit is that they often don't show sweat as easily and dry faster. The downside is they are made of synthetic materials which can sometimes get stinky, and it's hard to find ones that don't scream I AM WEARING ATHLETIC GEAR.
posted by misskaz at 7:02 AM on August 9, 2014

Spend some time figuring out a way to attach/detach your bag to your bike. Look around at product's like this detachable Bag as well as detachable rear racks and see if you can stealthily integrate one of them into your existing bag of choice.

Alternatively you could attach some waterproof tape (gaffer tape? vinyl tape? latex tape? duct tape?) to the inside of your shirt between your boobs, so your sweat won't be able to permeate the material right there, but I'm not sure how comfy this would be.
posted by Th!nk at 11:03 PM on August 9, 2014

Nobody has mentioned this aspect yet so it bears saying. Take it easy - you are not in a race. If you are sweating too much it is obvious you are working too hard. People wear suits on their bike commutes without breaking a sweat. Not every bike ride has to be an endurance contest.

Just to put it in perspective, people regularly walk to a grocery store without sweating. Walking is not the same as jogging or running.
posted by JJ86 at 3:53 PM on August 10, 2014

Though commuter bikes are often more of a target than people above claim, especially when they're Surlys or similar.

I agree that Surlys are often used by commuters, but they're at or near the top of the commuter market along with, for instance, Soma or even Rivendell's non-custom models. A new singlespeed Surly runs around $1000 and models with gears and disc brakes (let alone fancy wheels, a dynamo, etc...) get into the $1300-2000 range, an amount of money that could also buy you a very nice road or mountain bike.
posted by pullayup at 7:25 AM on August 11, 2014

« Older Action & Procrastination   |   Virtual assistant to make scheduled calls to... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.