Proper care extends life, quality of sports equipment
July 5, 2006
Until someone brought in the bike, it had been a normal day at Replay Sports in Heber City.
A few customers had brought in some old baseball gloves and a worn pair of shoes. They had sold a few pieces of new equipment, and one or two used, but nothing too exciting. Then the bike came wobbling in.
"It was the all-time worst care of a nice bike," Manager Nikos Sawyer said. "It had been left outside all winter and the whole thing covered in rust. It didn’t even roll right. We ended up having to cut the seat post off with a Saws-All. When we were done, all that was left was dust."
Generally, bikes should be kept indoors year-round. Tune-ups should be performed at least once a year at the start of the summer season or as needed. Keep parts lubed and clean, especially the chain, brakes and derailer, and makes sure tires are well inflated and not worn.
But like the bike, people also ruin basketballs, soccer boots, golf clubs and other sports equipment just because they don’t know how to care for them. Proper care of equipment is not only vital to its lifespan, it’s important for the checkbook as well.
"Keeping your equipment clean is just a common sense thing to do," Sawyer said. "Also, keeping equipment out of the sun, out of the elements, is a good idea. Not only does anything that’s been taken care of have a higher resale value, but you won’t have to buy new equipment every few months. That gets expensive."
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Besides keeping equipment in a dry, cool place, Sawyer said treating all rubber parts, such as on SCUBA gear, with a compound like UV Tec, which sells for $4.99, could save the parts.
"They make UV protectant for rubber parts that is amazing," he said. "You can use it on any rubber products, but especially those that are kept outdoors. If it has been left out and already has that whitish, ghostly look to it, the UV Tec will actually get that off."
The dry air in Utah is often problematic for equipment owners. It can harm everything from skis to baseball gloves.
Karen McComb, manager of Bahnhof Sports, said proper care of ski equipment will not only prolong the life of the equipment, but is a safety precaution as well.
"Once the season is over, you can wax your skis and not scrape off the wax, which will keep them moist with the dry air here," she said. "At the start of the next season get it scraped and the edges sharpened. You also need to take them into a shop and have the bindings tested as a safety precaution."
She also said it’s important to always buckle boots to store them so they keep their shape, and not to store skis and boards directly on concrete because it invites rust.
Trevor Anderson, corporate manager of baseball gloves and batting gloves for Easton Sports, said the sun could kill the lifespan of a glove.
"If you don’t take care of it, the leather will get dry and crack or get stiff," he said.
"The lace is usually the first to go, if not taken care of. If the lace breaks, the glove is not of much use, as it holds the fingers together and attaches the web to the palm and fingers."
He said the key to proper care is to condition the glove fairly regularly. Oil is OK, but a lanolin-based conditioner (Easton professional glove conditioner for example) is better. Oil can make a glove get heavy, which will reduce performance. He emphasized making sure to condition the lace, so it doesn’t crack and break.
"When not in use keep a ball in the pocket to maintain its proper shape, and don’t leave the glove on the floor of the dugout because it will get dirty and dry out faster," he said. "Just keep it in your bag."
Although golf clubs don’t have leather, rubber grips can wear out just as fast. Mike Squires of Copeland Sports said wiping down grips after each game is important to keep them from cracking.
"It’s also important to keep the grooves on the club heads clean because if they’re dirty you won’t get the spin on the ball you would otherwise," he said. "You should also keep head covers on your drivers so they don’t knock together and get nicked."
But he said shoes are the biggest problem he sees with golf gear.
"I see a lot of people coming in the store who haven’t replaced their spikes," he said. "It’s very important that people replace their spikes at least once a year, if not twice per season."
When the golf clubs come out, basketballs and soccer balls often get left in the yard to deflate. Over- and under-inflation are both problems for almost any equipment that can be inflated. A representative from The Sports Authority said it’s important to keep balls inflated to the proper pressure, which should be listed on the ball near the inflation hole. A pump with a pressure gage will let users know when to stop.
He also said it’s important not to store equipment in hot places such as attics, and to keep shoes dry by placing newspaper in the toes to help retain shape and soak moisture.
"Just don’t put them in the drier," he said. "Just put them where there is movement of air."
Care for soccer boots is similar. Mike Anderson, manager of Scoreboard Sports, said it all comes down to "longevity, longevity, longevity."
Anderson, who is a high school varsity head coach and the director of player development for a local club, said it’s important to treat the boots with Leather Food to keep them from cracking, and to wash uniforms in cold water before hanging them to dry.
"We have people bringing stuff back and wanting an exchange because they say the merchandise is defective, but it’s their care of the equipment that’s defective," Anderson said. "But if they don’t take care of it, they’ll have to come back and buy more merchandise so I guess that’s good for business."