Do you know how much a safety pin weighs? I think about 0.1 grams. Now multiply that by four. That’s almost half a gram added to your weight, just from pinning your number plate onto your jersey!

And unless you choose to use 8-10 safety pins to hold it down, that number plate might catch some wind, flap around, and subsequently take a fraction of a second off your time!

Kidding aside, safety pins aren’t the only way to attach your number plate to your jersey.

You can also use tape or glue to stick your race number to your jersey. This could save weight and help the number sit closer to your jersey for better aerodynamics. It also avoids the potentially painful prick of a safety pin into your skin!

So, if you want to try something new, your options include:

Race Number Tape

First up, there is actually specialty tape made just for this purpose! I have heard of two brands, but I don’t know much about either one. The small amount I’ve read about them online shows mixed feelings. And at roughly $17 per roll, I don’t think it’s worth trying.

Links: www.RacerTape.com and www.GrizzyGrip.com

Fabric Tape

There is a product called “Instant Bond Double-Sided Fabric Tape” that is just $3 per roll at Walgreen’s. It is made for sticking two pieces of fabric together.

It might work with a number, or it might not. Or maybe it will come loose when it gets sweaty. I wouldn’t risk it.

Shipping Label Envelopes

You’ve probably seen these on boxes shipped UPS or FedEx. They are little plastic bags with adhesive on one side – you put a shipping label/invoice inside, then stick it to the box.

You could try to re-purpose these by putting your race number inside it, then sticking it to your jersey. However, I’m not sure how well it would stick to a jersey, and it probably isn’t any lighter than using safety pins.

Link: www.ULine.com

3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive

Last but not least, we’ll look at spray adhesive. Your two main options are 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive or 3M Repositionable 75 Spray Adhesive.

To use it, you spray it on the back of your number. Let it dry to a slightly tacky finish, then position the number on your jersey and press down firmly. If you did it right, your number will be a big sticker that will lay flat on the jersey, so it won’t flap in the wind.

However, there are some complications. First, you need to get the amount of adhesive just right. Too little, the number may start to peel off during the race. Too much, you’ll probably be left with a sticky residue on your jersey. Second, if you don’t remove the number immediately post-race, the adhesive could set and really leave your number stuck on there.

Link: www.3m.com

My final verdict is…

While getting your number plate to lie perfectly flat is a noble cause, these tapes and adhesives seem like more trouble than they are worth. I don’t think it’s worth the effort, except maybe for an important time trial when you are completely decked out in aero gear.

If you try any of the above options, I recommend the 3M spray adhesive.

In the end, safety pins are super cheap and reliable in all conditions. And if you use proper “flat pinning” technique, the number should lie flat.

7 Comments
  1. 3M Super 77 works pretty well, but there is a trick to getting your race number off and not leaving a glue residue on your jersey. If you spray some WD40 on the inside of the jersey, your race number and all of the adhesive will come off very easily. The WD40 smell will go away after two or three washings.

  2. @TWJ

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve never even thought about using WD-40 on clothing.

    Have you ever tried using isopropyl alcohol (or even Goo Gone) instead? That’s what I’ve always liked to use on sticky residue, but I can’t compare it to WD-40 directly in this situation.

  3. I have used Racertape with really good results. I have used it more than 20 times and my race number has never come off. I found the trick is to crumple the number before putting on my jersey.

  4. There is something totally different to all the above they are from the Uk called EventClips -www.EventClip.net

    New form of fastener that locks your race number without making holes in your top

    • These are not allowed in races in California
      Check your area rules first
      I have seen people at the start line being told to take them off and use pins

  5. Race Bib Tape is a new product that is amazing. I use it for ragnar and for my 1/2 marathons. It stays on SO well, but comes off easily when you’re ready and doesn’t leave any residue. It’s pretty new so you can try it FOR FREE by going to their website http://www.racebibtape.com and hitting “try”.

  6. There are also magnets available to ho hold numbers without pinning.

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