It was very much about wearing the right gear for the weather, and so this review of two pairs of Ground Effect knicks has been a long time in the making. The knicks, Supersonics and Snake Bites, arrived as autumn was rapidly disappearing into winter; the 3/4 Snake Bite bib knicks were more versatile and got some immediate action, while the Supersonic knicks didn’t get much use until the “leg warmer” weather was finished. Now that I’ve given both a thorough testing, I can finally make some qualified comments.
I used the Supersonic knicks primarily for road biking, but I did also wear them for mountain biking, underneath light shorts of course. I chose the medium size which was a good fit for me; not too tight but firm enough. The wide leg bands are really good; they seem to work well keeping the knicks from bunching up and it was a good feel compared to the narrow and tight cuffs common in knicks. The black is neutral, so if you are after style points, they can be easily matched to the rest of your kit.
Supersonic knicks, a nice cut and good look
On the bike I found that I was adjusting my position on the saddle for the first five to ten kilometres of each ride before I become settled. Every backside is different and some knicks tend to suit me better than others. Once I settled into the knicks however, they were flawless, no discomfort or chaffing, even on long rides. Wearing leg warmers with these worked well, though for cold weather these knicks are a little “light” in the parts you want to keep warm.
Softtail chamois in the Supersonic’s
The 3/4 Snake Bite bib knicks really suited me well but, I have to admit up front, they are incredibly un-sexy. When people use the pejorative Middle Aged Men in Lycra (MAMIL), they’re thinking of me wearing these knicks. I really wasn’t helping the cause at all; full length tights or standard knicks are a better look. The annoying flip-side is that they are quite practical and I really enjoyed wearing them.
Your author, wondering if he can go out in public like this
As bib knicks they are comfortable and add another clothing layer to the lower torso (good for the kidneys). They stretch over, and keep warm, your thighs and knees, and only your lower calves are exposed. During an early morning criterium, another rider in my grade commented that I had no chance of performing in the race with my legs exposed. I don’t know whether he was being thoughtful or had spotted me as a serious contender and wanted to intimidate me, but I took the challenge and achieved my best placing for the season in that race. Obviously my legs were warm enough.
Where these knicks really stood out was during long rides with cool early morning starts. They work really well for the transition from cool to warm; you may get a little more air on your calves when it’s cold, but when it does warm up they are light enough to keep you from feeling as though you are stuck in jogging pants. It’s a bet for both sides; if you face changing weather conditions they leave you a little less exposed and they save you from having to stow leg-warmers in your back pocket.
Compared to the Supersonic knicks, these were comfortable the minute I sat on my bike and didn’t need time to adjust and wear in. For long rides I never had issues with a sore backside. The chamois used in the Snake Bites is the (relatively) new eXo skeletal pad and Ground Effect are onto a winner with this, at least for me.
Super comfort (for my backside) with the eXo skeletal chamois
Both of these knicks are well made, they have nice and clean stitching and when you have them in your hands (and on your butt) you can feel that they are quality products. Ground Effect are still making their gear in the land of the long white cloud (New Zealand); they don’t outsource their quality.
While the Supersonic knicks are good knicks, the ‘Softail’ chamois in these didn’t seem to fit my backside as well as the Snake Bite 3/4 bib knicks with eXo skeletal chamois. The Snake Bites hit a sweet-spot for me and were perfect for transitional weather and varying riding conditions. Well, almost perfect, as they though don’t earn any points from me in the euro-cool department.
If you’re into the technical details, like the 4-way stretch nylon lycra, contour fits and multi-level pads, you can read up on these on the Ground Effect website.
The Supersonics retail for $109 and the Snake Bikes for $179. You can order from Ground Effect directly.