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  1. #1
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    Alternatives to leg warmers?

    I like and do most of my riding in the US mid-Atlantic region. It's humid here, and there isn't that much variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures. If it's hot, I wear riding shorts; if it's cool, I wear tights.

    Now I'm planning to be part of an organized tour in Washington State in August, along the Olympic Peninsula. The organizers highly recommend that riders have some way to change their clothes during a day's ride to accomodate temperature swings. They even will pick up your arm&leg warmers from early rest stops and carry them to the day's destination for you.

    Over the weekend, I tried on leg warmers for the first time. I have enough problems getting used to a single layer of lycra and just one elastic/silicone gripper on my thigh -- the thought of having two layers there for a substantial part of the day leaves me unimpressed.

    So, what else have folks used for a leg-layer to shed as the day gets warmer? Would something like yoga pants or tights over cycling shorts work?

    (And don't even start with arm warmers. But there, I know I can use a jacket or a bolero.)
    - Jeneralist

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    Obviously, you can wear whatever you want, as long as your pant leg doesn't get stuck in the gears. But you should purchase and try leg, knee and arm warmers, they are the best. They fold up small so you can put them in your jersey pocket for when you don't have a SAG to carry them, something you can't do with pants or a bolero. You are wearing jerseys with pockets, right? Also, it can be cold on the coast, you are going to want to have your shoulders covered, since you are saying "bolero" you might be wearing tank top style tops - probably not the best choice for a long tour, in terms of both being cold in the morning and accumulating a bad sumburn. I've done both tanks and short sleeved jerseys, and once I tried short sleeves, even though I originally didn't prefer the look, the comfort won me over.

    For the warmers, don't cheap out, get good ones. I like Panache and Castelli. Pearl and Descente are ok. Primal are crap. You might have to try a few brands to find the ones that meet your leg length to circumference ratio - what works for me might not work for you.
    ...

  3. #3
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    I would have trouble with 2 full-length layers of lycra / tights also, if I understand what you are doing. However, I use bike shorts, not too tight, and not full length tights when it's warm enough. If I need better coverage the single layer of thermal leg warmers, also not real tight, are so comfortable I don't notice them. If I have an issue, it's that I cannot walk more than 20 feet without the leg warmers wanting to come down. Best of all they are so compact they easily fit in a jersey pocket.

    The only other (poor) alternative would be zip off nylon hiking pants. Light weight, breathable, dry fast, but not aero and a bit warmer than the thermal warmers becuase they do not breath quiet as well.

    addendum: mine are the Pearl, worn a dozen times. The size zipper isn't as long as I would like to get them on / off over the shoes easily.
    Last edited by RoadTire; 05-27-14 at 05:50 AM.
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  4. #4
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    Jeneralist, I checked what I have, some are older items, and the two I used the most were some PI tights that fit over the classic style riding shorts and a nylon BBS sweat suit/wind breaker that I think was aimed at fishermen, but worked well over mountain bike style shorts. The sweatsuit was a buy on the fly item that has served well for many years.

    Brad

  5. #5
    Garlic
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    On my WA state tour, self-supported, I had a pair of thin tights (over shorts), a pair of the nylon trekking trousers mentioned above, and some cheap rain pants. I actually cycled in freshly falling snow on the higher North Cascade passes. Some combination of the above always worked. One good trick I had learned from someone earlier was that you should be able to wear everything you carry at the same time, where everything functions as a layer.

    And don't forget the "bagtex" trick--(empty) bread bags for the feet, inside the shoes, over the socks.

    PS: I plan on hiking over the Olympics from the Sound in August, ending with a coastal trek. That's beautiful country and I'm looking forward to it. Enjoy!

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I use leg warmers sometimes at home but on tour prefer to take either wind pants (just a light shell like a wind breaker) or tights (with no chamois) or both depending on the conditions.

    I most often only wear either of them in camp unless below freezing. I typically ride with just shorts until it gets pretty cold. I did the ST in winter and used one or the other more there that usual, but still was in bare legs most of the time.

    For your tour it sounds like you are sagged so you could take tights, wind or rain pants, and leg warmers and not suffer with the weight. Pick the one you want for the day and leave the rest in the sag wagon. BTW, if you wear the tights over your shorts it isn't that hard to take them off when it warms up. They are really no worse than leg warmers in that regard. Where leg warmers are nice is if you are often switching back and forth over and over again with needing or not needing them. So you can get too warm on a climb and just slip them down around your ankles without stopping to finish the climb and pull them back up for the descent, again without stopping if you want. As I said I just ride with cold legs until it is REALLY cold.

  7. #7
    Senior Member robert schlatte's Avatar
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    +1 on the zip off leg hiking pants. (Mine are Mountain Hardware) I throw mine in my pannier and wear them over lycra bike shorts when its cold. When it warms up you can either take them off completely or zip off the pant legs. You also have a pair of baggy shorts which you can wear into restaurants, etc. There is no law that says cyclists have to be 100% clad in lycra.

  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
    Over the weekend, I tried on leg warmers for the first time. I have enough problems getting used to a single layer of lycra and just one elastic/silicone gripper on my thigh -- the thought of having two layers there for a substantial part of the day leaves me unimpressed.

    So, what else have folks used for a leg-layer to shed as the day gets warmer? Would something like yoga pants or tights over cycling shorts work?
    The biggest problem I have had with the double layer thing ... shorts with something (capris, basketball shorts, tights, whatever) over them ... is that I sweat more in the double layer area. And when I sweat more in that area, I develop rashes and all sorts of extra discomfort on long rides. Even my very comfortable saddle starts to feel uncomfortable.

    I can do the double layer (or even triple or quadruple) layer thing on very cold days, or for short rides, but not on warmish days and not on long rides.

    I like leg warmers because they don't create that problem.


    The next problem I have with the double layer thing is the tightness over the knees. I developed patello-femoral syndrome from wearing multiple layers tight over my knees on a bitterly cold century, and since then my knees have been sensitive to having things over them. Fortunately I have some articulated knee tights, but the leg warmers work well for that too because I can push them down so that they are baggy over the knees.


    So yes, you can wear whatever you want over your shorts. There are lots of choices, but the leg warmers are a good, versatile choice.


    Oh, and for me, it has to be a really nasty day before I'll wear wind or rain pants ... those are so uncomfortable. I sweat, they are tight over the knees, I can't get comfortable on the saddle ... all the features I don't like rolled into one piece of clothing.

  9. #9
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    I am confused. My leg warmers extend maybe 4"-5" above my shorts line, so it's not like I am wearing two layers of lycra from my waste on down. Also, the leg grippers of my leg warmers are not as tight as those of my bibs. I don't notice the extra layer and extra grips while I am riding. Did you try on the leg warmers with shorts? Tights over shorts seems like more of a double layer of lycra than leg warmers and shorts. Also keep in mind that you may want those leg warmers late in the ride if the weather changes yet again. It's nice to have something you can easily roll up and sutff in your jersey pocket or something like a trunk bag. and put back on if conditions change.

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    I am confused. My leg warmers extend maybe 4"-5" above my shorts line, so it's not like I am wearing two layers of lycra from my waste on down. Also, the leg grippers of my leg warmers are not as tight as those of my bibs. I don't notice the extra layer and extra grips while I am riding. Did you try on the leg warmers with shorts? Tights over shorts seems like more of a double layer of lycra than leg warmers and shorts. Also keep in mind that you may want those leg warmers late in the ride if the weather changes yet again. It's nice to have something you can easily roll up and sutff in your jersey pocket or something like a trunk bag. and put back on if conditions change.
    I agree ... I'm having a bit of trouble imagining what jeneralist is talking about.

    My leg warmers and shorts might overlap by a few inches sometimes when I've got the leg warmers pulled all the way up, but quite often I wear them so that there is no overlap.

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    It's where I live .. my daily wear is Track-suit warmup trousers .. a compound knit .. smooth Nylon outside , poly fleece inside .

    You may be OK with a light windbreaker pair of pants ,, then you can take tem off and the wont take up much room ..


    this fully supported, your Peers on Road race type bikes ?, the Race kit may be what the others wear, hence the Arm/leg warmer suggestion.

    August , you may be a weather Pessimist , OK it wont be Over 100F day after day .. Locals are starting to gripe at 80.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-28-14 at 09:45 AM.

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I live and ride in Washington State, year 'round. I use leg and arm warmers when it's above 45. They are the best. I never take tights, outer pants, any of that stuff when I go touring. Everything I wear on the bike will fit in a jersey pocket when I take it off: jacket, vest, leg warmers, arm warmers. I use Voler Jet High Viz wind jacket and vest, very light and stuff well. I also use their arm and leg warmers. Some people prefer putting their leg warmers on the outside of their shorts, but most wear them inside.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Vintage_Cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I agree ... I'm having a bit of trouble imagining what jeneralist is talking about.

    My leg warmers and shorts might overlap by a few inches sometimes when I've got the leg warmers pulled all the way up, but quite often I wear them so that there is no overlap.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    OK, here's the closest picture I can find to help show folks what I'm concerned about. It's not the double layer of fabric that bothers me -- I wear long johns under jeans, for example, in cold weather. But I find the squeeze that I get from the bottom band on bike shorts to be a necessary evil at best. It's uncomfortable, but it's the only way I can keep shorts from riding up.

    So wearing shorts and knee warmers, or shorts and leg warmers, sounds really uncomfortable. The double layer of lycra, and the two gripper bands, is something I'd like to avoid.

    (See diagram; the red arrows point to the grippers.)
    Attachment 383346

    If the same sort of thing could be done with a zipper -- the way it is for trekking pants mentioned by RoadTire -- it might bother me less. Or some other way that avoids the double squeeze. I agree, yoga pants over shorts aren't a perfect idea either, but I think I'm less worried about light cotton (for example) over riding shorts and the extra sweat it might cause than I am about the discomfort caused by doubled grippers, and the double layer of compressive fabric in between them.
    - Jeneralist

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The attachment doesn't work for me, but ...

    1) You might consider trying other shorts. They should be tight enough by themselves that you don't need a tight band around the thigh to keep them from riding up, and the bands around the thigh vary from one brand of shorts to another. Some are really bad, some are pretty good.

    2) The band of the leg warmers isn't really tight (or at least mine aren't). When they are pulled all the way up, the band sits about 4 or 5 inches above the band for the shorts. When they are pushed down a bit, I've usually got a gap of about half an inch of skin between the band of my shorts and the band of my leg warmers. So the bands don't sit right on top of each other.

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    I can never keep arm/leg warmers up I wear knicker length bib tights; long sox if its cold, pull them down as it warms.

  17. #17
    Member Bicycle365's Avatar
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    Wader socks for inside of fishing waders are great, I start with a pair on in the morning . They come up to your crotch almost, so I just use the leg band of my bibshorts to hold them up. Sometimes Ill wear them over my cycling socks to make the changeover quick , sometimes Ill just change to my usual riding socks. Putting on clean (as clean as tour socks can be) socks after riding for a while always feels nice! The are great for sleeping too , arms or legs as needed.

  18. #18
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    take a set of bike shorts, medium weight full length tights with pad and a set of wet weather gear. a light fleece top too. the olympic peninsula can get some nasty, miserable, wet weather any time of year. take advantage of the offer to have the organizer carry your extra gear if you are very certain you won't need it.

    on a lighter note, this post reminds of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine has the unenviable task of buying socks for her boss.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Here's me in knee warmers (shorter version of leg warmers). It turned out to be a warm day, so I pushed them down a bit. Leg warmers are versatile like that ... you don't have to wear them overlapped with the shorts if you don't want.



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    Quote Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
    So wearing shorts and knee warmers, or shorts and leg warmers, sounds really uncomfortable. The double layer of lycra, and the two gripper bands, is something I'd like to avoid.
    Before you write off knee warmers completely, perhaps you should try them? Ride over to your LBS and pull on a pair. You may find that they're not as bad as you're expecting...

  21. #21
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Before you write off knee warmers completely, perhaps you should try them? Ride over to your LBS and pull on a pair. You may find that they're not as bad as you're expecting...
    As I mentioned in the original post, I've done that. I can't tell from standing around in the LBS how they'll feel on a ride; but they didn't feel all that great at the store. Hence, this thread.
    - Jeneralist

  22. #22
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Not all leg and arm warmers are the same and they come in sizes. The leg warmers should come almost to your crotch, or at least way up your shorts' leg. Yeah, they aren't pajamas, but they are good for the purpose. I don't like them for rides of over 200k.

  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Not all leg and arm warmers are the same and they come in sizes. The leg warmers should come almost to your crotch, or at least way up your shorts' leg. Yeah, they aren't pajamas, but they are good for the purpose. I don't like them for rides of over 200k.
    I've never found a pair of leg warmers that long! I'm lucky to find them so that they overlap my shorts leg by about 4 inches. There's a reason why I often wear leg warmers and knee warmers like I am in the photo above ... that's as far up as they go.

  24. #24
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I've never found a pair of leg warmers that long! I'm lucky to find them so that they overlap my shorts leg by about 4 inches. There's a reason why I often wear leg warmers and knee warmers like I am in the photo above ... that's as far up as they go.
    You must have really long legs. A Voler large leg warmer is 24"-26" long depending on how much it's stretched. I'm only 5'6", so a medium comes up way high on me.

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    You must have really long legs. A Voler large leg warmer is 24"-26" long depending on how much it's stretched. I'm only 5'6", so a medium comes up way high on me.
    And therein lies the problem. That's a knee warmer!

    I am 5'5.5" and a leg warmer that short would barely come over my knees.

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