22 March 2010

bikefix Exclusive Review: Descente Coldout bib knicker

It's spring! Or at least it was yesterday (it's snowing as I write this). It's the wonderful time of the year when daylight extends into the early evening and the Windstopper tights are banished to the back of the closet. With every season's change, I find myself re-learning how to dress. Often, I suffer a number of shivery under-dressed or sweaty over-dressed rides before remembering what goes with what- and when. One piece of old roadie wisdom that has been very helpful over the years is this: Under 60 degrees? Cover your knees.

Every year, when daytime temps tentatively reach above 50 (45 off road) and my pale, hairy legs begin crying out for a bit of air and sunshine, I pull my favorite bib knickers out of the closet and take comfort in the fact that summer will be coming shortly. Though I own other, warmer knickers and knee warmers, none are as comfortable in as wide a range of temperatures as Descente's Coldout model.

From 45 degrees up into the low 60s, Descente's Coldout fabric does a great job of maintaining warmth while managing perspiration. The ever-s0-slightly fleecy interior feels great against the skin while the close-knit and stretchy outer does a very close Lycra approximation. It's warmer than even the heaviest short materials but not so warm that there's a dramatic transition in comfort between bare skin and the skin it covers. In the case of the Coldout bib knickers (bib-less and short bib versions are also available), the fabric's panels are cut near perfectly and connected by unobtrusive flat seams. The mesh shoulder straps are soft and breathable and the bibs' fronts are cut low enough to allow for easy peeing and prevent the dreaded (and gross) Sweaty Belly.

Despite their age (going on about 4 years by now), the Coldout are the last bibs in my closet with their original pad in place. Despite it's multi-panel construction and relatively soft, thin padding, the chamois is perfectly shaped and has yet to draw attention to itself on any rides shorter than three hours. For me, it works. (Newer Coldout knickers than mine use a 1pc Stealth chamois and add silicone leg grippers.) The bibs' cut and pad are such that everything that should stay put does, either while mountain biking or frantically pedaling on the fixie. At $120, they're not cheap, but their durability and function certainly make them a good buy.

Though the Coldout knickers have changed a bit since mine were new, the fabric hasn't- and that's what really makes these knickers my favorites. They do a good job of protecting creaky knees and aching hips from cool weather without becoming uncomfortable when things warm up. Without a doubt a bikefix Pick.



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