The Care and Feeding of your Cycle Cats Bike Bag
Every so often I get questions about how to care for Cycle Cats, and other, bike bags. The simple answer is: not much!
The more complex answer is that there are a few things you can do to ensure that your bike bag, or really any type of sewn bag, will last for many seasons to come. Here I'll discuss a few basic maintenance points to consider.
Most Cycle Cats products are made from waxed cotton canvas and water resistant nylon liner. Both of these materials should be hand washed with cold to lukewarm water, never in a washing machine, and never with hot water. Heat can cause the fabrics to shrink unevenly, and could also damage the water resistant treatments that each fabric has received. It's also important not to dry with heat!
I prefer to wash in a deep sink or plastic bucket. You can also take it in the shower! But again, low heat please! Thoroughly soak the bag and gently scrub with a soft bristled brush. Natural bristle is best, but soft plastic is ok too. Be firm but gentle! We don't want to abrade the fabric and cause tears or scratches. It's best to avoid soaps, but if you must, stick to a very mild vegetable-based bar soap. No dish soap, degreaser, detergent, etc!
Be sure to wash and rinse inside out, then hang outside or in the shower to dry with all the zippers pockets open. It may take a day or two depending on weather. Please do not rush and put it in the clothes dryer, oven, etc! This is a sure way to ruin your bag(I've seen it happen). Use a fan blowing room temperature air overnight if you must.
Waxed canvas can be re-treated on occasion to regain some water and weather resistance. You probably don't need to do it as often as you think.. You'll know when it's time. The fabric will be soft and limp, and it will easily wick water into the fabric. Some water uptake is to be expected in normal use, this will actually work to enhance the seal of the fabric.
Waxing is as simple as rubbing paste wax into the fabric and setting with a hair dryer or bagged in a clothes dryer. See a future article on that topic, or many on the internet. See our web store for Martexin Refinishing wax.
Synthetic fabrics such as Cordura and XPAC should be treated similarly, unless otherwise directed. Mild soap and lukewarm water are all that should be used or necessary. Similarly, use gentle brushes and cloths to remove tough spots. Air dry on a line, never in a machine.
Proper technique with a zipper can help it last much longer. Be attentive to effort required and strain on the zipper when pulling it. The smoother it glides, the longer it'll last. Try not to yank them closed too fast, the nylon molded teeth can actually melt!
Even the best cared for zipper will still need cleaning, especially on outdoor equipment. You'll notice them getting stiffer, or harder to pull as dirt accumulates. Sometimes they can be noisy. My preferred technique is to use a spray bottle of dish soap water and a toothbrush. Yes, zippers have teeth too! Spray some hopefully sudsy water on the open zipper and swirl down to the gums, err, tape.. Try to scrub inside the slider as well. Rinse and dry everything thoroughly.
That's all there is to it! Be sure to rinse out your velcro straps too, this can help prolong their stickiness. Use your bags hard hard, but show them some love on occasion. The same goes for your bike! Now mount it back up and go for a ride!