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Wed 26th Jan 2022
© Henry Budgett
Free Lace elastic laces
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 13th February 2007

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In the beginning, there was the shoelace -- and it was seen to be OK but a little tedious to tie up in the scramble to get out on the run in T2. And then came the lace lock -- and it was seen to be a wonderful idea and removed the need for bows, grannies and knots. Indeed, so good was the lace lock that even “real” shoes sometimes come with them because, in this fast-moving world of ours everybody wants to shave a few seconds where they can (and children just don’t seem to be taught such basic skills anymore…).

And… …nothing much changed for a while until some smart person threaded their shoes with knicker elastic instead of a traditional woven lace and found that they could get their shoes on and off even quicker. Plus, as a bit of a bonus, the elastic gives a bit so if your feet swell up in the heat, or just from the exertion of all that running, the laces can expand rather than just cutting off the blood supply. The latter being, as you are all aware, a fairly crucial item in the general scheme of things!

However, the underlying problem with all the lacing systems is that it is very hard to customise the tension across the top of the foot -- even with the extra give in an elastic lace the tension simply evens itself out during the run. Enter, from France, a completely new kind of elastic lace called Free Lace. Imagine, if you can, a regular piece of elastic without the fabric sheath around it and then tie knots in it every centimetre or so. Now weave a fabric sheath around it so that where the knots are the fabric is not so tightly wound but between the knots the weave is just like on a regular shock-cord type lace.

What you now have is a lace that has lumps in it -- lumps that can be trapped by the eyelets in the shoe and so allow you to control, at least to a degree, what the tension is across the ‘throat’ of the shoe. They are a bit of a struggle to thread through, and you really have to do it with the shoe on your foot, but the trick is to stretch the lace which makes the knots disappear enough to go through the eyelets. Once laced up, you are left with two ends (as normal!) but unlike regular laces where you knot or lace lock them or even elastic laces where you tie them off, you just tuck them back under (see picture).

Free Lace installed

So, the $64,000 question -- do they work? Well, yes, they do. In an admittedly completely unscientific test we have used them in our regular running shoes, first with just one shoe Free Laced and then with both, and they really do stay securely in place and there’s definitely less in the way of tension “hotspots” than with a conventional lace. There’s no indication that the knots will slip in normal use but with frequent transition changes we would expect that you would need to re-check them regularly to make sure that the tension is correct. Indeed, if they have any obvious potential issues we would say that, unlike a conventional or elastic lace, you won’t just be able to “give them a tug” to tighten them up should you need to.

The laces have been used by several well-known French athletes across a number of sports and testimonials have come from the likes of Cedric Fleureton and many of their top tri clubs. Relatively new over here, our samples actually came from a nice lady at the French Embassy, but the inventor, Eric Lenoir, was at the TCR Show on Brighton-based Jog Shop’s stand ( and you can buy through them. He’ll also be back for the London Marathon Expo if you want to talk to him about the idea. The Free Lace website has video and more information, but it’s all in French:


Have Your Say
Re: Free Lace elastic laces
Posted by sharpShark
Posted at 15:18:26 15th Feb 2007
Reply to this

Nothing new here I'm afraid.
<a href="">Flatlines</a>, which I guess you refer to as 'knicker elastic' above, have already addressed that tension across the foot issue. <a href="">Flatlines'</a> Active-Fit technology utilises the nature of the lace to stop slippage through the eyelet enabling the custom fitting - all while being <em>flat</em> and comfortable.

Re: Free Lace elastic laces
Posted by neil greenfield
Posted at 14:15:26 22nd Feb 2007
Reply to this

i have visited and they dont seem to sell these or any other laces.
ps. Please sponsor me in my attempt to do The Michelob ULTRA London Triathlon. thanks
Re: Free Lace elastic laces
Posted by
Posted at 09:03:09 24th Feb 2007
Reply to this

Neil, I couldn't find an email address for you, so if you go to and drop me an email from the site with your address I'll sort you out with a couple of sets of Flatlines. Dave - Flatlines Active-Fit Laces.
Re: Free Lace elastic laces
Posted by allabouttriathlons
Posted at 11:33:49 6th Mar 2007
Reply to this

easylaces are great and can be bought from all about triathlons - thery're not free