Sunday, December 26, 2010

Use of External Catheter for Racing (or just convenience)

I use an external catheter for on-the-road urination while riding the recumbent. For upright and other bikes you might make some changes. Here is what, how and why I do it.

(Note thin white `tube’ exiting left of rider’s torso. That is the external catheter. Does not empty onto water bottle, chain or brake pads.)

  • External catheter: Self-adhering male external catheter
  • The medical supply company sells the catheters at different widths. Though you may be `sensitive’ about this the idea is to measure the circumference of your penis in millimeters (not feet, yards, or meters!). When you access their website order appropriately.
  • Acrylic tubing. Clear. External diameter 7 mm; length 13” – 15”.
  • Electrical tape or equivalent. .5” - .75” wide; 1.5” long.

  • Insert the tubing into the catheter extension.
  • Drill a little vent hole on one side about an inch from the top of the tube (this allows the urine to flow without creating a vacuum).
  • Apply tape around the connection between the tubing and the catheter so that the tube does not work itself out of the catheter while riding. Be careful not to tape over the vent hole.
  • Roll the external catheter (like a condom) over the penis so that the adhering material is firmly attached. (You may need to cut your pubic hair to avoid getting it caught in the adhesive. Be careful!)
  • When not riding you can discretely put the tubing in your shorts.
  • When riding you can extend the tubing out of your shorts to the left side to avoid getting it fouled in the chain.
  • When you are done riding you simply (and slowly) peel the catheter off the shaft of your penis. It doesn’t hurt or leave an abrasion or skin irritation.
  • Remove the tape and catheter from the tubing. Wash the tubing and reuse.
  • Many have said that they don’t think that they can pee on the fly. Wrong. Physics. When your bladder is full and out of room you will pee. After a while you won’t notice it.

  • To remove any thought of trying to minimize fluid / hydration intake.
  • During races some racers have to stop several times and run off to the bushes, losing valuable time.
  • Simple convenience. The argument that it is unsanitary ignores the fact that cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other animals disperse many worse fluids, materials and solids on roads.
  • Completely inconspicuous.
  • Leaving a valuable bicycle outside a public restroom without a lock risks theft.
  • Carrying a heavy chain, cable or lock to secure the bike while using a public restroom adds weight to the bike.
  • Often I'd be forced to urgently run behind some barely adequate bush, some alleyway between two out-of-the-way factories, or any similar barely hidden location just to pee. And, while discreetly peeing, I would look, furtively, in all directions, fearing if I'd get arrested for public indecency /exposure.


Often persons considering the external catheter have an inhibition to the very idea. Peer comments may contribute to your own initial reluctance. For many bicycling involves peer approval and ego issues. You’ll have to make the `judgment call’ for yourself.

If you are likely to be embarrassed on a group ride (worrying that you will be seen urinating) just separate from the group for a while; pull back, to the side, etc.

For those who race bicycles this is a better option than:
  • Stopping to pee;
  • Slowing down to pee under or over your shorts;
  • Peeing in the saddle, through your shorts;
  • Underhydrating to avoid peeing.
 And What Happens When You Hold It In For Too Long?

Watch This


  1. Hi Dan

    Is the urine meant to drain completely from the tube? I tried this the other day, but it didn't seem to flow through properly. I 'drilled' a small hole at the top of the tube as you suggested by pushing a safety pin through it - I'm not sure if the problem is related to this. I have a long ride on Saturday and would like to get it sorted by then. The problem is I only have a sample pack of catheters at present, so don't have many left to experiment with.



  2. David ... I've experienced this, too. First, drill a bigger hole in the tube. A pinhead sized hole just doesn't allow enough air to enter the tube. I wound up using a scissors to snip a hole that I could easily see. Second, there may be a little urine fluid remaining in the tube simply because of the reclined position in which you're in. If it is a problem just shake the tube a little. I hope this helps

  3. Hi Dan

    Thanks very much for that, Dan. I'll try making a larger hole. Physics was never my strong point, but do you not find that a large hole causes localised leaks? The smaple pack came with a couple of waste bags with the tubes bonded into them. I don't think patients have to drill holes in the tube when using those, but is that just because the bags are sealed and part of the system?

  4. If you are looking for something a little easier, Men's Liberty is an external catheter available which attaches just to the tip of the anatomy and already has a built in collection pouch and vent adapter to prevent the formation of a vacuum. That option might be a little easier to use and its definitely better for your skin than an acrylic condom catheter.

  5. Thanks for the product name. If I understand your comment correctly, why would I want a collection pouch? And tapping a little hole into the tube already prevents formation of a vacuum. I'm assuming that some may have a problem with an acrylic condom catheter but I don't really know that. I don't.

  6. Thanks for working this out and posting the info., Dan. I had thought of doing this for myself but hadn't had the chance to figure out how to do it. As you mention, on long rides it gets tiresome trying to find discrete places to pee. Now, I wonder what women do?
    - Robert
    Recumbent bikology in the urban jungle.

  7. This is a great article. I know some people how have to live with catheters and this article would defiantly be inspiring to them.