Hack Your Bike

Hack Your Bike

Emily Zinn shares some of her secret hacks to keep you spending more time on your bike rather than taking care of it.

Cyclocross: The sport where you can spend equal time on mechanics, racing/training and washing yourself and your kit afterward. Breaks squeal, sand grinds, mud sprays. Here are a few of my favorite little tricks to hack the system and make it all a bit more simple.

Baby Powder

There are really only two races I know of that fall under the category of “pure sand races”: Koksjide and Boulder Reservoir. But, if you happen to find yourself in one of those two races, skip the lube and keep the chain moving with baby powder instead.

Glitter Sealant

There’s really only one thing cyclocross lacks: glitter. Fortunately, you can improve the effectiveness of your sealant with a half teaspoon or so of glitter. It acts as a clot, decreasing the size of the hole the sealant needs to fill and allowing it to get to work faster.  Use one of those tiny funnels for a hip flask to put it in.

Magnet Bottle

Fine, you may not need a water bottle for a 45-minute race, but training without a bottle sucks almost as much as stuffing one down the back of your skinsuit and riding around like a hunchback. Vincero Designs makes a super low-profile magnetic bottle cage that fits perfectly with their magnetic bottles. The bottle cage doesn’t get in the way when shouldering the bike and is discreet enough that none of your friends will make fun of you for having a bottle cage on your ‘cross bike. They may even ogle.

Folding Fender

My favorite swag right now is simple, small plastic fenders that slip directly into your saddle rails. They can also easily be cut from a semi-stiff plastic, craft foam or non-corrugated cardboard covered in packing tape. It’s great for muddy training or to slip into a bag for your commute. It’s pretty amazing that such a small fender could do anything at all, but the location on your bike makes a much smaller fender just as effective as a full-sized one.

Itty Bitty Arm Warmers

Those of you with kiddos that ‘cross are probably putting your arm warmers on their legs and haven’t found any equivalent for arms, but a solution is inexpensive and simple. Buy a pair of wool knee socks and cut the feet out and you’ve got yourself a pair of arm warmers in any size, color and pattern.

Open Tubulars

The easiest way to blow money in cyclocross is on wheels and tires. Light wheelsets, cotton tubulars and a range of tread choices are a quick way to get a cyclocrosser salivating, but expect your IRA to suffer. Open tubulars with latex inner tubes create a nearly tubular setup, but mount like clinchers. They allow you to have your tread choice with just one wheelset, plus keep all your brain cells you would have sacrificed to tub glue.


Do not show up to a truly cold race without Vaseline. Smear it on your nose, cheeks, legs. It will keep the exposed skin from getting burned by the cold wind and help make you waterproof.


Some swear by it and some swear it doesn’t do anything, but many spray mud-prone zones on their bikes down with cooking spray so mud won’t stick to the bike and weigh them down.