A Penny, Newspaper and 5 More Surprising Hacks for Cyclists

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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A Penny, Newspaper and 5 More Surprising Hacks for Cyclists

Out on the road, it’s impossible to have the gear you need. Whether you’re caught in an unexpected downpour or you need the right valve to fill your tires at a gas station, a simple, cheap hack can be a lifesaver.

Try these seven tricks to save yourself time and money the next time you or your bike are in a pinch.


A simple plastic bag from the grocery store has more uses on the road than you think. Here are a few that can save you:

  • If you need to carry more than you can fit into your jersey pockets, or are riding in the rain, put your gear in a plastic bag and stuff it inside down your jersey’s back. You might look like a camel, but you’ll have dry gear when needed.
  • During the winter, cold feet can be a problem. Use a plastic bag as a barrier from the wind, rain or snow by sandwiching it between two layers of socks.
  • While not fashionable, a plastic bag can be used as a helmet cover during a downpour to keep your head from being exposed.


Simply stuff a few sheets of newspaper inside your jersey to protect your chest from the wind. Before fancy windbreakers that roll up into the size of a small ball became popular, pros used this old-school hack. You’ll be surprised how much it helps take the chill out.

Another common use for newspaper is to stuff it in your cycling shoes after a ride in the rain. The paper absorbs the excess water and speeds up the drying process. Just remember to take out the foot beds before stuffing, and change the paper after a few hours.


Dirty mechanic hands are par for the course even if you’re only doing basic repairs like greasing a bike chain or changing a tire. To avoid leaving black fingerprints around the house, rub your hands with a pinch of laundry detergent to remove the grease and gunk from your hands and nails. An alternative is to use sea salt along with dish soap, which provides an abrasive to help scrub the grime away.


Most cyclists consider those plastic valve caps that screw onto valve stems useless added weight on each of your wheels. Keeping your valve cap on can save your tube from freezing or corroding in extreme temperatures or when a repair is needed.

Cutting the top off of a plastic valve cap to convert your valve stem from a Presta to a Schrader valve is another hack that makes your valve cap worthwhile. Converting your Presta valve to a Schrader lets you use the local gas station compressor when you’re in a pinch.


You don’t really need to buy special sprays to keep your bike clean and free of grime. Furniture polish works just as well, and is often much cheaper than special bike frame polishers.

To winterize your bike and keep it from attracting grime from the road, try spraying your frame with WD-40 or Pam cooking spray before you ride. It won’t damage your frame, and the coating keeps it clean and shiny in even the worst conditions.



Whether it’s a bit of extra chain lube, sunscreen or chamois cream, some items can be bulky in a jersey pocket or saddle bag. An extra contact lens case can carry these items without having to bring the whole bottle.


Women with short commutes who want to wear their work clothes on the bike often have a problem when it comes to wearing skirts or dresses. To maintain a bit of modesty, attach a few pennies on the underside of the bottom of a skirt to add weight to keep it in place while you pedal.


> Men’s Cycling Gear
> Women’s Cycling Gear
> All Cycling Gear

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.


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