Gear Prudence: There’s nothing I hate more than getting chain grease on my pants when riding a bike. It’s so hard to wash out, and it’s embarrassing at work to walk around with a gross black stain. It seems like most cyclists try to prevent this by rolling up their cuffs, but when I tried this, I just got the inside of my pants dirty. Still gross. I have a new idea: what if I pull up my socks and stuff my pants into them. I think this will work. Do you? — Terrible Unclean Cuffs Kaput
Dear TUCK: Before GP can address sock stuffing, let’s first take a moment to talk about your very gross bike chain. Have you considered cleaning it? Or, if feasible on your bike, thought about installing a chain guard or chain case? Gunk happens, but if this is a consistent and recurring problem, you might want to take some time to address the underlying cause of the dirty rub.
As for shoving your pant legs into your socks, this isn’t a widely employed technique, but there’s no scientific reason it wouldn’t work, provided your socks are sufficiently tall and your pants aren’t too voluminous. You might stretch the elastic on the socks a little, but that’s a small price for getting to look like Johnny Tremain or a middle infielder from the Dead-ball era. You can stick to black socks on the off chance the technique fails, but this strategy also provides a great opportunity to go loud sartorially. Flashy socks add verve. Embrace it. —GP
Gear Prudence: The “baskets” on the front of Bikeshare bikes aren’t even baskets. They’re pretty useless for carrying things, and that stupid bungee just pisses me off. Wouldn’t it be better if Bikeshare bikes had real baskets? —Bonkers Apparatus Stifles Keeping Everything Together
Dear BASKET: Sure. It’d also be better if Bikeshare bikes were lighter, came in multiple colors, and the stations dispensed free beer every time you dock, but we live in the world of what is and not the world of our happiest imagination. There are bikesharing systems that use bikes with full baskets, and these are certainly better for the bungee averse and for carrying disparate unbagged items. But the design of the front baskets on the Bikeshare bikes do have some advantages that regular baskets don’t. For example, they’d work great for a flat-screen TV. Or lumber. And pretty much everyone at one point in their urban transportation life is going to carry either a TV or lumber, so that seems pretty useful. Ultimately, though, it’s important to accept that the Bikeshare baskets are meant to be used in conjunction with a bag. They fit purses, briefcases and grocery totes, and for 90% of riders that’s good enough.—GP