Plus, the shifting demographics of our nation suggest that there are an awful lot of you cyclists living down south. In fact, there are so many cyclists that the friction of rubbing shoulders with one another in the bike lanes might even generate additional heat. Almost a ‘bike lane micro-climate’. Don’t let Al Gore fool you. I invented that phrase.
But up here in the mountains cycling tights are somewhat of a necessity. Same goes for those of you holdouts in the Rustbelt.
Stirrups Or No Stirrups
One of the key issues with regard to cycling tights is how to keep them tight. Some tights have stirrups, which is a great way to keep the lower part in place. I suppose there are cyclists with ultra sensitive feet who don’t like anything else in their shoes. But if the weather’s cold enough to wear tights, I usually have so much crap winter clothing on me that a little extra fabric under my foot is the least of my concerns. I prefer stirrups.
Rubber grippers are another feature to be considered when you’re looking for cycling tights. With rubber grippers around the bottom edge, you get a slower creep up the ankles.
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Cycling Tights Bibs Or No Bibs
On the other end of the anatomy, bibs keep the tights pulled toward your ‘thinker’. Between stirrups and bibs the tights don’t stand a chance in their effort to bunch up and annoy you.
But then again, all of that bib material on your chest may be a nuisance you don’t want to deal with. It’s an issue to be considered in your quest for your dream cycling tights.
Chamois Or No Chamois
Here’s an interesting issue. You should be frequently washing your chamois. That keeps you from falling prey to ‘auto-infection syndrome’ (made that one up too).
If your tights have a built in chamois you should be throwing them in the washer after just about every ride. Subjecting your expensive tights to a daily mauling in the washer and dryer may not be something you’re quick to do.
As an aside, my wife has now informed me that drip drying instead of drying clothes in the dryer is a lot less hard on them. You probably already knew that. I probably knew it too, but chose to selectively forget it.
If you’re sporting bike shorts underneath and non-chamois tights over the top you can throw your bike shorts in the washer after the ride and save your expensive tights from so many spin cycles in the washer.
But some riders aren’t in favor of the extra bulk in the crotch that a shorts/tights combo causes. Decisions, decisions.
Multiple High Tech Fabrics
Here’s where it gets fun.
In the bad old days the fabric was Lycra, and Lycra was new enough to keep the cyclists enthralled by its novelty. In the really old days there were merely trousers, but no one was really enthralled by trousers. They were so underwhelming that I’d be a fool to even mention them.
In this modern era there are a tremendous number of great fabrics utilized in the various panels of upper end cycling tights. A very nice pair of Pearl Izumi tights that I wear have a fabric that’s very waterproof over the front side of my massive thighs. The same fabric isn’t on the back of the legs since rain drops have a harder time sneaking up on me from behind.
Flexible materials are often put over the knee; and the list of various fabric utilization strategies goes on and on.
In fact, more thought is put into the placement of cycling tight fabrics than is put into solving of the national debt.
Zippers around the lower legs make squeezing into and out of cycling tights less of an exercise in and of itself. Assos makes bib tights with a zipper in the front to accommodate the enlarged abdomen that you’re working to eliminate.
It’s likely you’ll be wearing cycling tights in low light conditions. After-all it’s the absence of sunlight that’s causing you to freeze your buttocks off. So look to see what reflection your perspective tights are sporting.
My cheap pair make my legs disappear into the abyss. My nice pair reflect headlights very well. Coupled with the startlingly efficient spinning of my legs, the reflective panels in the tights put on a memorizing show to motorists.
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Sum It Up, Chump!
Didn’t know I could read your mind, did ya?
Well cycling tights allow you to get outside when the cold weather makes getting out not much to look forward to.
When you’re looking at various models be sure to consider if you’ll want to take measures to keep your tights stretched out (stirrups and bibs). Do you want to be tossing your tights and their built in chamois into the wash after every ride? Are zippers well placed and waterproof? Do headlights cause your legs to light up like a Christmas tree?
And lastly, is there sufficient technology built into the fabrics of your cycling tights to confuse a nuclear engineer?
Don’t forget to score on some great cycling tights deals at Bike Nashbar.
And then there’s the Granddaddy of all cycling tights merchants…Amazon! Who would have thought?
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