When I first started this blog back in 2006, my intention was to review a selection of significant product innovations and the impact they have had on our lives.
My post on the Paper Clip remains one of the most popular, but over the years I have rather neglected this topic.
But thanks to my daily ride aboard my Brompton folding bicycle, I found myself in need of one of the most simple products of all time – the humble bicycle clip.
This time the objective is not to hold pieces of paper together, but to prevent trousers getting caught in grubby oily cycle chains, ruining the sartorial elegance of the trouser owner.
Now, some simple hearted folk might say that socks were perfectly capable of fulfilling this important role, in addition to keeping feet warm. But having tested this approach thoroughly, I’m convinced there is a better way.
My first choice was the traditional steel sprung cycle clip available from ‘all good bicycle shops’. And I was happy with this method for a few weeks. But gradually I became annoyed at the way they often slipped down during riding, or how they pinched my growing calf-muscles. They are also quite fiddly to store between journeys. The temptation is to hook them over the handlebars. But this inevitably results in them rotating around and dropping to the ground with a clang, followed by scrabbling in the road to pick them up.
I turned to Google for a better solution, and found a coalescence of positive reviews around the leather trouser strap from Brooks England. This long established British firm are known for making the best leather replacement seats for bicycles. The product is almost as simple as its shiny rivals, and consists of a steel band, which in this case is covered in soft leather. The difference is the band rolls up into a neat little ball when not in use.
The cost compared to a steel clip was a challenge, but I decided the potential benefit was worth the investment. And I was proved right. As with all well designed products, daily use is either almost unnoticed or a small pleasure. The way my Brompton folds away is an example of the latter.
Not only does the band fulfil its primary purpose of holding my trouser leg firmly in place, despite the jarring of London’s badly potholed roads, it is simplicity itself to fit, and sits nice and securely on my handlebar when not in use. What more could one ask of a product?