View Full Version : Do bib knickers slow you down (race setting)?

08-18-2016, 01:39 PM
Maybe a silly Q but does wearing bib knickers (3/4 length shorts over the knee) slow you down? When I wear them it feels like extra energy is required to bend my leg but maybe the notion that knickers might slow me down in a race is totally crazy??? I do enjoy having warm knees on chilly days.

2016 Ronde van Vlaanderen - It looks like most riders started the race with knee warmers but didn't have them on as they crossed the finish line (Sagan). Do these pros have some special way to get them off at race pace?

08-18-2016, 01:58 PM
I don't know if it slows you down but to me it feels like it does.. I don't have any knickers but I feel like my heavier tights do restrict motion.

If the knickers are heavy weight like my heavy tights are (fleece lined) they are also subtly raising your seat height which can also have that effect if your hamstrings are tight.

It could just be in my head though.

08-18-2016, 02:04 PM
They wear the knee warmers on the outside of their bib legs

08-18-2016, 02:27 PM
Couldn't any extra cold-weather clothing over bibs and a standard jersey slow one down?

Anything on the legs can add a bit of resistance via the stretch of fabric at the knees and hips. Anything bulky or baggy in the way of gloves and jackets can add wind resistance.

08-18-2016, 02:34 PM
Not wearing warmers will sap energy the body expends to keep extremities warm.

08-18-2016, 02:36 PM
not as much as my skinny legs do.

08-18-2016, 02:38 PM
Sounds like something you should ask GCN so they can do a half-assed, n=1 study. Like a cycling version of mythbusters.

08-18-2016, 02:41 PM
Do these pros have some special way to get them off at race pace?

Pros have had lots of practice dressing /undressing (amongst other activities) while riding at speed which mere mortals are not capable.

08-18-2016, 02:49 PM
Might depend on the brand. I have some Assos knickers that fit well and don't seem to be an issue - but my FTP is a much bigger problem than any additional resistance on the knees.

For running I do notice the difference between tight and loose fitting winter tights.

08-18-2016, 03:03 PM
Pros have had lots of practice dressing /undressing (amongst other activities) while riding at speed which mere mortals are not capable.

Local shop owner had a short stint as a young 'pro' 10+ years ago... its crazy what he can dress/undress on the bike and be completely stable.

08-18-2016, 03:13 PM
Local shop owner had a short stint as a young 'pro' 10+ years ago... its crazy what he can dress/undress on the bike and be completely stable.yeah I have a riding buddy who can take knee and leg warmers off while riding; shoe covers too. he's been riding his whole life though, dad is an ex-pro, and he's currently racing in Belgium. he can also ride the rollers no-handed, while pedaling with only one leg. crazy.

as for knee-warmers slowing you down? maybe, but I doubt they would as much as not wearing them and being too cold. and if you have 'em on, everyone else probably does too.

08-18-2016, 03:20 PM
I have always thought that the simple act of pulling on tights or leg warmers somehow made me slower. Can't explain it, but I feel it.

08-18-2016, 03:57 PM
I infinitely prefer knickers over tights. I'll go pretty far to avoid tights. I haven't raced in the cold in a while but generally speaking I'll go as low as 38-40 deg F in knickers (with booties).

The tights I have are pretty constricting, like it takes a while to put them on, once I get them most of the way on I pull them up inch by inch so I don't feel like saggy diaper butt.

Bib knickers are much better, I pull them up and it's almost like adjusting regular bibs.

The only way I'd ride with knee warmers is if my shorts were thermal material. Knee warmers always made me feel like "yay my knees are warm but my privates are cold!" I only have one set of shorts made with thermal material but unfortunately they're the bottom half of a thermal skinsuit (long sleeve). When it's exactly right, like 45 deg F, it's great, but below/above that not so much.

08-18-2016, 04:01 PM
Material thickness matters.

In 2010 for the Bethel Series finale I got dressed in (bib) shorts. However it seemed just a bit cold. I don't remember the temperature but I didn't want to burn off too much energy keeping myself warm. So I quickly put bib knickers on and then the shorts (to fly the team colors). This was right before the race so I just hopped on the bike and rode to the line.

With two pads my saddle height ended up too high. Even sliding forward it felt like I was stretching to the pedals. I stood a lot just to avoid sitting. Horrible mistake. In the end it worked out but during the race I was kicking myself for being an idiot.

I remember reading about the 1984 US Olympic team, how they were really honing everything in preparation for LA. There was one week where suddenly everyone was sore. Ended up that when they went from tights-over-shorts to just shorts the saddle height had to go up a touch, but since no one adjusted their saddle height everyone got sore. Something like that.

08-18-2016, 04:05 PM
Part of the effect is due to losing the sensation of air moving over your skin. You don't "feel" like you are moving fast, so you are tricked into thinking that you are riding slow.

Same effect has been reported with folks the first few times they wear TT helmets. You can't hear the wind noise, so you don't feel like you are moving as fast.

08-18-2016, 04:07 PM
A post earlier this week about getting ready for training over the winter, and now this... :help:

There will be plenty of time to worry about such things in a few months. Until then, go out and enjoy! :D

Lewis Moon
08-18-2016, 04:28 PM
Threadjack: who makes nice, bang-for-the-buck, lightly insulated, UNPADDED bib knickers? Something to wear over summer shorts. Here in AZ I can usually just get away with knee warmers but...there are those days...

08-18-2016, 05:56 PM
You know what slows me down?

Cold knees.

08-18-2016, 06:37 PM
I forgot to mention on the knicker thing - with a thermal fabric ("Roubaix") my knees are toasty warm. In fact I'm super paranoid about my knees. Ditto my Achilles. I usually wear booties before I go to knickers because my Achilles gets cold first, meaning I want my feet/heel/Achilles to feel warm. Then I do knickers.

I understand that when you remove heat from one part of your body it reduces available heat to other parts, and that if one part of your body is cold the blood vessels contract and affect areas adjacent. My booties are the Side Kiks (?) which are soft neoprene something so they don't cut into my calf like most other booties. Very arm, very sealable from air, and they keep my Achilles warm.

My knickers are thermal, they extend below my knee, and my knees feels warm and cozy when I wear them.

08-18-2016, 06:57 PM
Yet another separate thought.

Talking about resistance to movement, wet tights are the worst. Even wet knickers are bad, but at least they don't pull down as hard as tights do.

In the rain I wear knickers until I can't stand it, it's probably in the 35-38 degree range (and only for races, if it was for training I'd be on the trainer). I put vaseline on my legs, pretty thickly, so my shins and calves are semi insulated. I put some on my knees as well. If I could I'd have windproof fronts on my knickers for the wet, keep the wind off my legs.

Related to that I'm almost always very heavily dressed up top compared to those around me. I'm one of the first ones to put on a vest (even if it's under a jersey), a jacket, etc.

08-18-2016, 07:12 PM
I just love saying knickers!

08-18-2016, 07:22 PM
I didn't know this would be such a hot topic :D

The race that I am debating bibs vs knickers for will be a dry day with the a start temp of ~40F and the finish around 60F, so a gentle rise over time. My bare knees don't like anything below 50F but hopefully I won't overheat near the finish in knickers.

08-18-2016, 08:13 PM
Is this thread for real? Really ....

08-18-2016, 08:18 PM
Is this thread for real? Really ....

This is a cycling discussion forum, my friend. It's sort of the point. If you don't like the topic, why waste time douching on the thread? Just move on to something that you do like.

08-18-2016, 08:18 PM

08-18-2016, 09:38 PM

creaky knees will slow you down, as mentioned

08-19-2016, 06:49 AM
I have always thought that the simple act of pulling on tights or leg warmers somehow made me slower. Can't explain it, but I feel it.

Cuz ya know it's cold enough outside to need them and that makes you 'feel' slower. As for fabric on your knee joint, and making you slower..really doubt that. I guess no socks either then...:)