Saturday, January 28, 2006

Leg warmer comparison review

Leg Warmers like arm warmers are one of those things that roadies know about but a lot of mtn bikers don't. The warmers are the perfect tool for cool weather riding. They allow you to remove them or roll them down (arm warmers) to adjust for heating up or warming conditions. I love them.

I've been using leg warmers a lot lately. They are the first choice if the temperature drops below 55-60degrees on the road. I know sounds pretty warm, but I want to protect my knees.

And I'll also layer them under my tights to get an additional 10 degrees out of my tights. Only one pair of my tights has some extra knee protection so even with mid-heavy tights I like the additional protection on the knees.

The one bane of knee warmers is when they fall down. Typically I put the knee warmers on before my shorts. (A sight that my wife said is funny. Preserve your sanity and don't even try and picture the sight) Then I'll put the shorts on over them. Ideally the elastic of the leg warmer uppers combined with the compression from the lycra shorts will keep them up while you ride. But often they slip down, which I hate.

Here are two brands I've been using lately. One I hate which prompted me to try the other which I like.

Pearl Izumi Leg Warmers
Pearl Izumi or PI in cycling circles is legendary for making incredible technical cycling clothing. But these leg warmers suck. I even got the XS size.


They have elastic grippers similar to cycling shorts

When pulled up mid thigh they creep down very quickly. The only way I can get them to stay up is to put them on WAY WAY up if you know what I mean. Then they will stay up, but the problem is that the gripper now hits part of my saddle when pedaling and the other day caused some serious chaffing.

The material is fairly thin so they layer easily under tights. But I was so upset with this last chaffing incident that I went out to buy some others.

De Feet Kneekers

The Kneekers are interesting. They are not sized, it's a one size fits all.

Which I have found usually means way to big. The material isn't as space age looking as the PI but it is coolmax which is a proven cycling product. They have two different materials on the front and the back

They don't have elastic grippers like most warmers. I don't know how they stay up.

I put them on and within a few minutes they had fallen down. I readjusted them up a little higher, and BAM. They stayed up the entire time on a 2hr mountain bike ride. Moutain biking usually makes knee warmers fall down in no time due to the constant, up/down changes in position. I was impressed. The height at which they were place was several inches below where the Pi's had to be go in order to stay up. The back of my thigh didn't chafe on the saddle.

It was 30 degrees when we started and I was comfy the entire time. But most of the time we were on trails which is much warmer than the road. But it was a 15min road ride to the trail head and I was fine. They also make a set that is Merino wool that look to be warmer.

I really like the lighter material on the back of the leg. This is similar to high end jackets like the Assos Airblock where they put wind block on the chest and front of the arms and put breathable mesh everywhere else. There is so much heat created by your body that you need to vent it out, yet you want protection on the front since in cycling you are moving forward (at least I hope you are). I think the breathable material on the back contributes a lot to their comfort and making them feel warm w/o being too warm.

The coolmax has a wonderful Next to skin (N2S) that all DeFeet products are known for. But it doesn't wick super fast like other materials which is actually a good thing really fast wicking=cooling, and these feel warm.

They are thicker than the Pi's but they layer with my tights fine.

I've only got one ride on them, but I so far I am pretty impressed with them.


At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Cory said...

Let me know how the DeFeet ones hold up. The set that I tried sucked pretty bad -- poor stitching, sliding down the legs, etc.

I've got larger legs and the only way I could get these things to stay up was to duct them in place. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

I was really bummed about the stitching though. Loose threads everywhere and, since none of my local shops carried them, I bought them from a place about an hour away. Certainly too far away to warrant a return.

At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Matt said...

The defeet kneekers are awesome.

I first got the normal(non-wool) type, and if you wear them high enough (eg. a couple inches below your hip flexors) they will never fall down, especially if your bibs are tight about the leg. I've never met anyone who has had problems with them falling down (our team is sponsored by them), but then again, no one I know wears them on the outside of the bib.

The kneekers always seem to be the right temperature-- you kind of forget that you are wearing them, because they never bring attention to themselves.

My first set of kneekers have lasted 2 years and counting. They do stretch out a little bit, but still don't fall down. And, I have had a few loose threads, but nothing bad results from this.

A month ago I got a wool pair, they are as nice/ nicer than the normal kneekers. The upside is that, like all wool products, they never smell (not like the kneekers really smelled, though).


At 7:21 AM, Anonymous said...

To my mind everybody have to glance at this.


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