Road ID - Identification Bracelet for Athletes

Helpful or Gimmick?

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RoadID bike chain badge. Note paint has come off. David Fiedler

Chances are if you read any cycling magazines or watch any televised races like the Tour de France, you've seen advertisements for the Road ID, a collection of identification products such as wristbands, etc., with a person's name and basic emergency contact information. With pitchmen like Levi Leipheimer, Bob Roll, George Hincapie and Phil Liggett, all well-known names in the cycling world, the company promotes its line of products extensively.

But are these products truly helpful and something you need, or merely an expensive unnecessary gimmick?

The Value of a Road ID

Let me tell you about my own experience that prompted me to check this out. I ride with a group of guys several times a week, both early in the morning on weekdays and longer rides on the weekends, including some century rides.  I know them well and have all their contact information, including each rider's email address and cell phone.  Getting in touch with them is not a problem.

However, we were riding one day last fall, descending on a steep hill (45+ mph) when one of the guys, Scott, couldn't hang on through the sharp curve at the bottom and sailed off the road, crashing into a rocky embankment at the side. I was certain we'd need an ambulance. Then we tried to figure out who else we needed to call to let them know what happened to Scott. Sure, we all had Scott's own mobile number and email address plugged into our phones but I had no idea how to reach his wife, or parents or whomever.

And that's exactly when I realized the value of a Road ID, an ID plate that typically goes on a wristband or attached to one's shoe.  You personalize it with whatever you want, but the basics are your name, year of birth and the phone numbers of two or three immediate emergency contacts, which are exactly what is most urgently needed after the 911 call is made in a situation like Scott's.

 

Here's another instance. Do you ever run or bike alone?  I do a lot. In fact, I'd say I mountain bike solo just as much as I go out with other people. And most of my runs are on my own. (Related article- This seemed like a good idea three months ago: a cyclist takes on a marathon) So if I were to crash into a tree and get knocked out cold or maybe get struck by a motorist while running or biking, it may well be that the Road ID is the one way people would actually know my identity. So it's not hard to make the case that this is a good thing to have.

Certainly, ID bands are a pretty straightforward purchase. But what set Road ID apart in my experience was the customer service.  Road ID has nailed this part of it, with immediate and terrific confirmation and receipt emails, plus built-in fun and amazing personal touches (that I won't give away here) that really make it enjoyable. 

Styles and Options

Road ID bands come in numerous styles and options, everything from wristbands (several widths and materials) to dog tags, shoe tags and even ID badges that attach to your pet's collar.  Pricing is generally $18-$30 depending on size and complexity.  As mentioned above, all tags carry a person's name plus basic emergency contact info.

Additionally, you have the option to add an inspirational phrase, "never give up!" or something like that, as well as "badges," which are additional smaller metal bands, with logos like "26.2" or a bike chain, etc., to show your particular passion.

I found the Road ID to be well-made, with pricing reasonable. The key piece is the metal identification plate, so Road ID offers affordable options for purchasing extra wristbands, etc., since that is the part that over time will be most likely to get damaged or wear out, particularly with something like the Road ID Slim, which is what I tried ordered.  The lightweight silicone band (like a Livestrong bracelet or the other ubiquitous charity bracelets out there) is available in a variety of colors. I found the basic black blends nicely with a normal wardrobe, meaning that I wear mine every day, whether I'm running or biking or not.

 Plus it's a great conversation starter. People will ask about it and, I mean, who doesn't like talking about bikes?

The etching on the nameplate held up well for four months of wear and I expect that to continue. The only disappointment I've had with the product is that the black paint on the bike chain badge (see photo) started coming off quickly and now is almost completely gone.

Road ID offers an additional cool tool - the Road ID app. No purchase of a Road ID product is necessary to use this. The app can be set up to send notification via text or email to family members and friends whenever you head out for a run, ride, hike, or walk, etc).  Those people will then both know you are out and can track your adventure, in real time, on a map. Additionally, an optional “Stationary Alert” can be set up to notify select contacts if you stop moving for more than 5 minutes.

Conclusion

All in all, the Road ID is a good product. The broad product line offers choices to fit most any activity or fashion sensibility, and the cost is certainly reasonable. Wearing one should be almost a requirement for any cyclist or athlete, just for one's own peace of mind - one of those essential items to take along on every ride.

Disclosure: The company provided a free sample of this product for review purposes. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.