i place great faith in the word thermal, for though not strictly speaking onomatopoeic by definition, you can't deny that it engenders notions of warmth and cosiness. as the weather begins to realise that it too has no idea what an indian summer really is, a pressing need to eschew short sleeves and bibshorts in favour of something exposing a tad less bare skin becomes less of a desire and more of a necessity.
many an item of cycle clothing proffered at this time of year has need of being more than simply wind and watertight, though i can't say that either are not desirable in the face of inclement adversity. while i take great delight in this end of the year, if only because it is now possible to pedal my little heart out without overheating to the same degree that was almost possible this past summer, while in the process of demonstrating such athletic prowess. it is not at all unusual for all that energy to be converted to heat, but more often than not, it's a pretty good ideal to hang onto some of that personal cosiness. not least for a smidgeon of insulation should it be necessary to come to an unforeseen halt.
this is the sort of technological philosophy that often comes to light midway through a particularly cold ride, a philosophy and actuality that we should be grateful has been already considered on our behalf. though not all defined by the same trademark, roubaix and super-roubaix are the very fleece linings on the innards of our apparel that we have cause to celebrate. aside from their thermal properties, the tactility of these fabrics successfully ameliorates any feelings of clamminess where skin meets technical fabric. this goes just as much for legs as for arms.
soft and fluffy linings start their job as soon as they're pulled from the drawer or wardrobe and continue to be gainfully employed throughout any following kilometres. it is, need i underline in greater detail, a salient factor in the comfort and joy featured in new zealand's solo bib threequarters. the terminology, however gives me slight cause for concern; empirical direction as to the correct use of technical nomenclature would not go amiss in this case. unilaterally, i have adopted the term bib threequarters, clearly, in my mind at least, alluding to the bib nature of their construct, while threequarters refers to the length of the leg. of course, i doubt very much whether they mathematically stretch along 75% of my lower limbs, but sometimes things can be just too precise.
however, these are also referred to as bibknickers, possibly more accurate in cycling terms, but often the progenitor of distinctly odd looks if mentioned in non-velocipedinal circles. it might pay to be aware of that which constitutes your audience at time of pronouncement.
either way, the garment under review has two notable variations on the common theme encapsulated by either description. firstly, and i'm willing to admit this may be a physical failing on my part, but the length below the knee seems a smidgeon longer than on comparable products. i mention this not by way of criticism, because to be honest, on occasion the smaller the slim portion of exposed skin between hem and sock top the better. shivering is not an attractive look.
the second and conceivably more contentious difference between the solo bib threequarters and the others milling around the wardrobe is the existence of a waist. strictly speaking, these do not have a waist in the sense that a pair of trousers do, but there is a distinct meeting point between the bibs and the shorts (longs?) that offers minor restriction when pulling them on in the first place. it offers no discomfort in either pedestrian mode or when cowered in the drops, but there's no mistaking its existence.
what i did find a bit awkward is the height of the front bib panel, one that creates its own set of difficulties when requiring a natural break. not that public approbation would ever allow or encourage my attempting such a manoeuvre when on the bike, but in truth it's one i'd be very reticent to undertake. i'd respectfully suggest that if solo wish to continue offering bibs in this fashion, that they incorporate a zip to make life just a bit easier in this respect. do not mistake my discrimination at this point; i was very welcoming of the warmth and feeling of security, particularly when soft and fleecy lined, but i have no wish to become a contortionist clothed in jersey and jacket when constrained in a less than spacious toilet.
however, we are not strictly here to discuss my ablutionary requirements; the solo bib threequarters have more herculean ambitions, ones that are dispensed with aplomb. flexibility of purpose is their watchword, clothed with internal warmth; thermal was, i believe, the term originally used. the cytech pad advertises its purpose by pretending not to be there at all. comfort in the saddle is so admirably constituted as to be almost remarkably unremarkable.
to confirm this versatility of motivation i not only made my way across hebridean kilometres on skinny wheels, but willingly swapped them for the rigours of my cyclocross aspirations, a feebleness of which places more onus on fabric than is likely the case for the true professional. i am very much in favour of threequarter shorts, and likely wear such a garment for more days of the year than i do regular cycle shorts. these are a particularly fine example of the genre, even bearing in mind my minor criticism. it's perhaps a case of choosing between comfort, if you see what i mean, and that extra and hardly unwelcome torso protection.
in truth, i'd opt for the latter.
wednesday 30 october 2013