Though I'd do a little write up here since winter's icy hands are clinging to so much of the country still, and even those of us freed of snow have to be on guard under the best circumstances. Get comfortable, since in my usual fashion, I will wander around the point a bit and perhaps poke it with a stick a few times before I come right out with it.
So, many of you may have noted Cycle Gear is in full-swing sale mode, hoping to grab what they can from those of us itching to ride and still clinging to tax return money. Lacy and I popped into the nearest store (which is in Meridian, about 2.5 hours away....been there 2 years...had no clue) during a ride a couple weeks back. It had been a bit cold running into the lovely 25-mph headwind above Mountain Home, so I gravitated to a display for Freeze-Out base layers. They looked pretty high-tech, seemed of fair quality, and the prices were nice, but no way was I gonna jump blind on this one. I got a closet full of riding gear that's mediocre at best, and I don't need more. Over the next couple weeks I read some reviews, priced things out, got the wife sized (never something a wise man WANTS to do, despite the possibilities for gropage), and decided to give 'em a shot. We ordered a long-sleeve shirt, long john bottoms, and glove liners for each of us. Ran to the tune of $120, all told (free shipping!).
Cycle Gear ships FAST. Order processed that night, rolled out on a big brown truck the next morning, and landed on our doorstep within 72 hours. But here, I must note, the plot thickens (see, I WASN'T kidding). Turns out Lacy's glove liners had to be shipped from a different warehouse in Ohio or Kazahkstan or something, and the dotcom operation wasn't very transparent about this. I didn't know they hadn't shipped till the box of stuff showed up and they weren't in there. When I started checking invoices, it shows I ordered and paid for them...but they weren't shipped. not why. Just not. Okay, fine, fair enough. Price is right anyway. BUT ALSO
instead of my long-sleeve top, they accidentally shipped a third pair of bottoms. Now, that was a bummer. So, I rang 'em up the next morning, and man, they sent out my shirt in about 10 minutes. And let me keep the extra bottoms for free. Good enough for me, I've worked in the service industry for 12 years, and I try to be cool about stuff like that.
We are now much closer to the point.
Today, Lacy and I went out for a short scoot to check out the gear. It was about 45 degrees, and normally I would wear regular thermal top and bottoms under jeans and a long sleeve shirt, with chaps, zipper hoodie, and jacket. Lacy would be similarly attired. I left my chaps off entirely (still wore my hoodie since I don't have my top) and Lacy did the same, and wore here top as her only shirt under her jacket.
We got upwards of about 50 mph, and my legs stayed WAY warmer than thermals under jeans, or just jeans under chaps....probably about the same I would normally get from all three layers...maybe even better. Lacy reported about the same for her bottoms, but she was really impressed with her shirt. She said she was totally comfortable, and thinks an extra layer might be too much. Good enough for me, I'm now excited for when mine arrives.
Have not tried the glove liners yet, but will this week, I'm certain. Looking forward to that as well...cold hands is the worst.
The gear is a little bulkier than conventional thermals, but it pays off in spades (I'm not even sure what that means, but I know it's good). It's very comfortable...neither of us had any binding or seams rubbing. Downside on the long-sleeve top is the neck, tho...it's a bit baggy, and a snugger design would be nice. I would advise it be worn as an overshirt rather than an undershirt for that reason. The bottoms don't seem much more movement-hampering than regular long johns, altho I will say the sizing runs a hair big AND tall. They have rather thorough sizing charts available, but I would aim for the smaller sizes. Kinda wish my pants were a size smaller.
All told, I'd recommend this stuff...especially if you have a Cycle Gear nearby and can return if your sizing's not quite right.
I plan to bump this thread as I get out in higher speeds, colder temps, and more complete gear.