Monday, October 27, 2008

The Required Uniform

Back from Singapore, I've noticed that the weather is no longer tropical. So I'm shopping for some cold weather gear for the legs and am wondering what you prefer in tights.

I'm looking for something to wear on longer group rides in colder weather (below 30 F). Note that I already have a pair of knee and leg warmers and a light weight pair of running tights.

Weight: How warm?
Style: Normal or Bibs?
Chamois: Yes or No?
Brand: What do you prefer?
Likes/Dislikes: Would you recommend the pair you currently own?


  1. Hi Brady:

    You've already commented on my AmFIB purchase, so you know what little I know about them thus far.

    In my limited experience, I found baselayer tights underneath exercise shorts was good down to the mid to upper 40s.

    I've read that bibs are good for longer rides, as simple bottoms can ride down due to the pedaling action. My typical ride lasts 25-40 minutes, so that's not a problem for me.

    I still have beginning cyclist "chamoisphobia." Maybe that's worth a blog post in itself. :)

    Be sure to post your results with whatever products you go with.

  2. If you want tights/bibs for a comfy warm long ride, you can't go wrong with Amfibs. But, if it's < 40 degrees out, you'll be sweating buckets. So slap em on when it COLD out. I always go with no Chamois just so I can wear them multiple times without feeling gross.

    Aside from my amfibs, I also have a regular pair of fleece tights. They work good from 40-60 degrees. I figured out (or rather re-learned) that below 50 degrees with wind, bike shorts with leg warmers can be a little too cool. If you wear a long enough base layer to cover your core all the way to your legs, then that's comfort. Otherwise you risk getting close to frostbite on your bum and .... um.... front area.

    For short rides, I do the knickers. I'll post on that in response to your comment when I get the chance to research more.

  3. I think this is the point where I step in and call all of you wussies, right? Glad to oblige.

    I have only one pair of tights -- Pearl Izumi thermafleece bibs. Got 'em for 35 bucks at Scheels a couple of years ago. They're made of the same material as standard PI arm, knee and leg warmers.

    I'd only get bibs, because they provide more protection up top -- like halfway up your chest. That's quite nice when it's really cold.

    No chamois -- you can use them every day for a week that way.

    Brand doesn't matter as long as they fit and they're what you want. I'd recommend mine, but they're also the only ones I've tried. Take it at that, I guess.

    As far as temperature range, though ... this is where Mike and I differ. A lot.

    I won't wear tights if it's above 32 or so, especially if it's going to get warmer later. I'd rather start a little chilly in knee warmers and be properly dressed later. When you sweat too much on the road, that's when you get really cold.

    If it were around freezing and warmer temps weren't anticipated, I might go with tights. Maybe. Around 20 degrees, I wear knee warmers under the tights.

    Up top, I go light, too. When it was 35 on Saturday, I had a base layer, jersey and a vest, along with arm warmers. I was quite comfortable.

  4. Brady, I should clarify also that if you go with chamois-less tights/bibs, you wear regular bike shorts underneath - if you want a chamois.

    Scott, going with bike shorts that have a chamois is a whole new experience. As with certain things, you get what you pay for. There are $40 shorts that let people get by for short rides, then there are $300 shorts that apparently massage your rear as you pedal or something. I wouldn't know since the most expensive pair I have are $90. Talk to Bryan about super nice shorts. He got some for a b-day present. If you do decide to take the Chamois plunge, it'll be hard to ever go back.

    Bryan, I think you are a furnace. I wore exactly what you wore on Saturday, and well, you know how much of a wussie I ended up being. I was IN PAIN. And I don't think warmer gloves to begin with would have helped at all. I think my core and head were actually cold and that's what made my hands and feet freeze to solid blocks of ice. I barely drank anything on that 3 hour ride since I could barely squeeze a bottle.

    So I guess it goes without saying, when it comes to clothing preferences, everyone's a little different.

  5. In my experience amfibs work best in 10 degree and below weather. 10 to 32 degrees I'll wear a combo of knickers or lightweight fleece knickers and some nice wool socks.

  6. I should point out that my expensive shorts are not the $300 type. I'm sure they're delightful and everything, but the team shorts I usually wear are still OK(ish). Compared to my expensive shorts, though, they're not much. And yes, expensive shorts really are that nice. I wore them this morning and they were, as always, delightful.

    But, like everything we're talking about, it all depends upon how the gear is being used. Scott, for your daily commute, almost any shorts would work. When Mike and Brady and I are out for three our four or (gasp!) five hours, better shorts are ... uh, better.

    By the way, Scott, I have a couple of pairs of basic Pearl Izumi shorts that need to find a new home. How big are you? I think these shorts are mediums, but they run a bit big. $20 each ($50 retail). I used 'em on and off for about a year. Still in great condition, still lots of life left.

    mike -- yeah, I'm probably a furnace. I run in shorts down into the upper 30s if it's sunny.

  7. Not sure I want to be that guy who agrees with Bryan, but you, sir's are wussies.

    God gave me wookie sticks that are warm to around 40, under 40 I wear fleece sweatpants. The key is getting booties (not duct tape) that can seal the bottom of the sweatpants. Not aerodymanic, but comfy.

    That being said, I am lusting for some bib-tights for this winter.

  8. Lighten up, John Francis. Afterall, not everyone was as blessed as you to be shaving a full beard by the fifth grade.

    Anyway, thanks all for your comments. I have decided to purchase a pair of Amfib bibs (no chamois). Had I not consulted, I would have ended up with a pair of normal tights with chamois, so this has been a good exploration