In an effort to keep my lungs clean when cycling during peak hour traffic, just over a year ago I purchased and began using a Respro Metro anti-pollution cycling mask.
With the filters having to be replaced every month with regular use, I’ve settled on replacing them every two months. Not all my rides are at night, nor are they during Taipei’s peak hour so two months feels about right. By the end of the eight weeks I start to feel the “pressure” of the filter when breathing and when I fit a new one there’s a noticeable difference.
Naturally this means supplying myself with Respro filters as there’s not really much you can do with a filter once it’s used. The filters come in twin packs which, at two months use each, equates to four months a pack. An ongoing expense but one that I feel is justified by not riding around with my lungs full of scooter exhaust.
So, every six months or so, I order a few packs of filters and all is well. Well, at least it was until my last purchase. That’s when the filters with big holes in them arrived…
Respro filters come in two primary varieties, ones with breathing valve holes and ones without. Whilst I’d like a model with valve holes, not being sure if the Respro filters were for me, I ordered the slightly cheaper “Metro” model mask. The Metro works the same as the other masks, however it doesn’t have valve holes and as such its filters are solid.
Note that in the above photo, the little squares are velcro to secure the filter to the mask (they’ve since become unsticky and I’ve realised you don’t really need them as the filter stays in place on its own).
Purchasing my cycle supplies from Wiggle (because Taiwan’s local market is wonky at best when it comes for tracking down specific cycling accessories), my last order was for two packs of Respro’s “City” model filters.
When they arrived, here’s what they looked like:
See the holes? They’re a problem.
The Metro mask doesn’t have accommodating holes in it so buying valves (which are sold separately as spares) was out. I did think about cutting holes in my mask and buying the valves but wasn’t sure if butchering it would affect its structural integrity or how it fit on my face.
Using the filters as is was out, as having two ten cent sized holes in the filter pretty much negated the whole reason for wearing the mask in the first place. Path of least resistance and all that.
Send the filters back to the UK for a replacement wasn’t really an option either as the postage would likely run over the price of the item itself.
I don’t blame Wiggle in this instance in any case, as when I went back and looked at their listing for City filters I realised that the picture did indeed show valve holes in the masks (easy to miss though if you’re not looking for them).
Wonder why I didn’t just buy the Metro filters when I placed my order, after searching their website I then realised that Wiggle don’t carry the Metro filters, even though they sell the masks.
Figuring “Metro” was close enough to “City”, I figured that’s why I bought the filters in the first place.
Yeah I can’t fault Wiggle for me buying the wrong product, but selling Metro valveless masks and only stocking Respro’s valve fitted filters? Not happy guys.
Meanwhile I was stuck with four filters (an eight month supply) that I couldn’t use as is.
After thinking about it for a few days and continuing to use the old filter (which was becoming uncomfortably heavy to use at this point), I then came up with the idea of butchering it to pieces to fit over the holes.
Some scissors, a thread and needle, about a half hour worth of time and I managed to come up with this:
The City filters come in white whereas the Metro ones are black. So what you’re looking at there is my shonky sewing of the a square of the old filter on the new filter.
Not elegant by any stretch of the imagination but behind the black mask it’s not noticeable, so it doesn’t bother me.
I was initially worried that the patch might affect my breathing but to be honest it’s not noticeable. The square patch seems to be small enough not to affect the overall breathability of the new filter. The only downside is I now have to apply patches to the other three filters which is a colossal waste of time (and fiddly!).
With Wiggle not stocking Metro filters I’m also not sure what I’m going to wind up doing after my four are used up. I could keep sewing patches on but that’s not really a long-term solution.
I guess if Wiggle don’t stock the Metro filters I’ll have no choice but to try to butcher my current mask with scissors to create valve holes, or failing that just order a Respro’s City model.
With there being nothing wrong with the Metro mask it seems like it’d be a shame to just stop using it though.
Wiggle, stock the filters for the masks you sell!