Knee Warmers Are Stupid

05.16.2007 | 12:52 pm

I am a nice person. An accepting person. A tolerant person. While “Live and let live” is not my motto, I think I can safely say that this is more due to the fact that I have never seen the value of having a motto than it is a repudiation of the sentiment. In short, I tolerate practically everything and am not quick to judge.

That said, I hereby assert that knee warmers are idiotic and must — without exception — be immediately destroyed.

I shall now prove my thesis, through the medium of making several irrefutable observations, and also with some highly persuasive photographic illustrations.

Observation 1: The Intended Function of the Knee Warmer is Ridiculous
Here is a photograph of a cyclist’s legs:

Apart from the non-relevant observations that these are my legs, that my legs have not been shaved in nearly a week, and that I am flexing so hard that my knees are likely to explode any second, we can tell from this photograph that my knees are uncovered.

Now, let’s take a look at how my legs would look if I were wearing some pale green knee warmers.

An impartial observer of a cyclist wearing knee warmers would be right to ask the following questions:

  • What is the temperature range for such clothing? At what temperature is it warm enough for you to expose your shins and calves to the cold, but cold enough for you to cover your knees? (Answer: never)
  • How comfortable is it to have an elastic grip constricting around your quads? Knee warmers, while ostensibly keeping your knees warm (because we do not want chilly knees!) are in reality applying a gentle tourniquet to the quads, the muscles you use most when cycling. As a rider, you must ask yourself: which will help me stay warmer: a thin layer of lycra, or not having my limbs turn blue and falling off?
  • What are you supposed to do with these things when / if you take them off? Of course, the (supposed) benefit of knee warmers is that you can take them off part way through the ride. Which means, if you’re with a group, you get to make everyone stand around and start hating you as you try to wrestly your knee warmers over your shoes, sticking and ripping as they go over your bike shoe cleats. Awesome. And then, once you manage to get the blasted things off (by which time a couple of the people in your group have grown bored and left), you need to find a place to put those knee warmers, which is going to be your jersey pockets. Unfortunately, the bulk of the wadded-up knee warmers is going to be so great that you will now have two unsightly humps just above your butt. It doesn’t sound attractive, and it doesn’t look attractive, either. It does, however, make your jersey stretch and pull against your stomach, making you look like you bought a jersey two sizes too small. Super awesome.

Observation 2: Knee Warmers Do Not Keep Your Knees Warm
Everything we’ve mentioned so far presumes that even with their inherent logistical disadvantages, knee warmers at least do their job.

Except they don’t.

Suppose, like most human beings, you have legs that taper from wide to narrow (see helpful illustration at right). Furthermore, suppose that gravity pulls things down. Now, just for the sake of crazy argument, suppose you start flexing your leg about ninety times per minute. Under these bizarre circumstances, do you think it’s safe to assume that anything that can settle, will settle? (The correct answer is “yes.”)

Translation: Since your legs are wedge-shaped and you’re constantly pumping them up and down, it’s not going to be long ’til your knee warmers become ankle warmers. Unless, of course, you hike them up every three minutes or so.

But I’m sure you’ve never experienced that effect, have you?

Observation 3: Knee Warmers Slow You Down
While it’s true that knee warmers serve precious little practical purpose, and it’s also true that knee warmers fail to serve the dubious purpose for which they were created, we can all at least take comfort in the fact that they do make you a slower cyclist.

You think it doesn’t take extra effort to stretch that extra lycra twice (once for each leg) per crank revolution? And you think that at 90 crank revolutions per minute, that extra effort doesn’t add up?

Let’s conduct a little thought experiment. Say a knee warmer increases pedaling resistance by 1%. Fine. Now say you turn the cranks ninety times per minute — that’s 2 (because you have 2 legs) x 1% x 90 turns per minute. Yes, the math proves it: your knee warmers increase pedalilng difficulty by 180% per minute.

Really, what’s amazing is that when wearing the stupid things you can move at all.

Repurposing Options
The only question is the manner of disposal. Are knee warmers entirely useless, or can they be repurposed into somehing with actual value? I have a few ideas:

  • Mask: Poke a few holes in a knee warmer, pull it over your head, and you’re all set to rob a convenience store. And since your mask does not have a top, you’re less likely to overheat or have your dark glasses fog.
  • Headbands: Cut your kneewarmers into strips. One kneewarmer should be able to make up to 14 headbands
  • Handbag: Sew one end of a kneewarmer shut, then use a spiral cut to transform the other kneewarmer into a shoulder strap. This is neither stylish nor practical, but it’s at least better than their original purpose.

I am willing to entertain other possible uses of knee warmers. I am not an unreasonable man. For the love of all that’s good in the world, though, just — please — keep them off your knees.

PS: Today’s weight: 158.2.


  1. Comment by mark | 05.16.2007 | 12:57 pm

    I love my knee warmers.

  2. Comment by jill | 05.16.2007 | 1:02 pm

    Very good observations. I’ve seen knee warmers myself on some cyclists around town, and I don’t know that I could think up a more useless piece of clothing. The fact that you still have exposed skin on your legs, plus the blood constriction of tight material around a joint, seems like they would do the opposite of warming knees. Of course, I’ve been using knee braces, which manage all of these annoying attributes and more.

  3. Comment by chtrich | 05.16.2007 | 1:07 pm

    I like my arm warmers.

  4. Comment by fatty | 05.16.2007 | 1:20 pm

    mark – you’re welcome to love your knee warmers. just don’t wear them.

    jill – rather than getting knee braces, i recently had titanium knees installed. the cool thing about them is they swivel, so i can now walk like an ostrich when the mood strikes me. and the mood strikes me relatively often.

    chtrich – i like your arm warmers too.

  5. Comment by Jeff | 05.16.2007 | 1:21 pm

    I love my knee warmers, but this made me laugh. I had to buy xtra-small because of my skinny legs, and the damn things still slip down! They work better with the tight shorts, since there is another elastic piece to hold them up. With baggie shorts, I’m yanking them up a lot. Ok, so maybe I don’t love them…but they’ve come in handy quite a few times for changing weather conditions.

  6. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.16.2007 | 1:25 pm

    I completely agree about the knee warmers. But… I like my leg warmers. and my arm warmers.

    OK, that about exhausts the possibilities, unless someone is going to chime in and say they like their socks, or something.

    As for the math, all I can say is Wow! I need to get an advanced technical writer to work at our company. There isn’t a Sales & Marketing person alive who would not appreciate such clairity & simplicity.

  7. Comment by chtrich | 05.16.2007 | 1:33 pm

    Clydesteve – Leg warmers make a lot more sense to me than knee warmers. Although I can see the same inherent problems.

  8. Comment by chtrich | 05.16.2007 | 1:34 pm

    Clydesteve – Leg warmers make a lot more sense to me than knee warmers. Although I can see the same inherent problems.

  9. Comment by Tg | 05.16.2007 | 1:36 pm

    I am in agreement. Knee warmers are merely tourniquets in disguise. I however, have a different problem. For a girl, I have unusually large calves, so much so, that I have the choice of losing my lower leg to lack of circulation, or turning my knee warmer upside down.

  10. Comment by sans auto | 05.16.2007 | 1:39 pm

    I had a cycling coach that said, “cover your knees til it’s 70 degrees” (cute huh?). I just go the official word from a doctoral student in Athletic training behind me, “bologna”.

    As far as keeping them up, you have to wear spandex over the top of them. In high school I ran cross country and one cold day I thought I would try to wear my cycling leg warmers to keep my legs warm. Three steps and they fell down.

    I went back to the car and found four safety pins and decided it would be a swell idea to pin the leg warmers to my underwear. After about 6 steps I realized that my underwear had not only lost their supportive properties, but also began pulling down and in because they were being pulled by the leg warmers. I felt that it was going to be worth the sacrifice because it was pretty cold and I could adjust my stride. Another 50 strides or so (that would put me half way through the parkinglot at school) and suddenly I realized that enough strain on a safety pin will make it pop open. I’m not sure how it all happened at once, but all of a sudden I was standing in the middle of the parking lot as school was getting out with 4 open safety pins in my underwear. That was the longest, most painful walk to my car I have ever had. And my legs were froze during the run

  11. Comment by dug | 05.16.2007 | 1:40 pm

    your calves and shins don’t really have joints. that is, no moving parts. knees should be covered when it’s colder than about 50 degrees. otherwise on cold days knees get sore.

    your math is screwy. come to think of it, you’re screwy. did you even go to college?

    you never need to take knee warmers off on a ride, because, while cold knees are a problem, hot knees, though not desirable, are not a problem.

    my knee warmers never fall down. are you using the garter belt that comes with knee warmers? i think i might see your problem.

    also, knee warmers and arm warmers, when worn with NO other clothing or shoes, makes for a spectacularly stylish look.

  12. Comment by dug | 05.16.2007 | 1:42 pm

    first, stop asserting that you are a nice person. show some evidence.

    second, your calves and shins don’t really have joints. that is, no moving parts. knees should be covered when it’s colder than about 50 degrees. otherwise on cold days knees get sore.

    your math is screwy. come to think of it, you’re screwy. did you even go to college?

    you never need to take knee warmers off on a ride, because, while cold knees are a problem, hot knees, though not desirable, are not a problem.

    my knee warmers never fall down. are you using the garter belt that comes with knee warmers? i think i might see your problem.

    also, knee warmers and arm warmers, when worn with NO other clothing or shoes, makes for a spectacularly stylish look.

  13. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 05.16.2007 | 1:47 pm


  14. Comment by Fish | 05.16.2007 | 1:56 pm

    Knee warmers for me are an add on, not a take off. I take them when I optimistically hope it’ll be warm enough for just shorts, but deep down I know it’ll be too cold for that. Please don’t take my sunshine (optimism) away.

  15. Comment by MTB W | 05.16.2007 | 2:18 pm

    Good to see you are up to your usual funny posts!

    Knee warmers? That is sooo from the 70s. In case anyone is wondering, they actually make lycra shorts with a length that covers to just below the knee (I suppose they are like football jersey pants for lycra wearing cyclists) These don’t fall down or need garter belts or safety pins to stay up. BTW, sans auto, that is now the second time you have given me a hilarious mental image I can’t get out of my mind.

    Another use for knee warmers – sling shot.

  16. Comment by UltraRob | 05.16.2007 | 2:28 pm

    Fatty, I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. My knee warmers are one of my most used pieces of cycling clothing. In fact I have 3 pairs of them. I will agree that bright green or for that matter any color that doesn’t match the 15 pairs of black shorts I have do look stupid.

    Of course I don’t have just any old knee warmers. I have the Pearl Izumi Therma Fleece ones. I’m short and my legs are disportionately short. My legs a bigger than normal. This means that I have to buy large warmers and they’re still snugs. I can pull them up as far as they will go and only have a couple inches of shin showing.

    One of your problems is you need to use them more so you can take them off properly. Taking them off properly means that you do it while riding. That’s one of the great things about knee warmers. No stopping when it warms up. Go to the back of the group so you don’t cause a crash. I still haven’t mastered putting them on while riding but I do that less frequently.

  17. Comment by Rick S. | 05.16.2007 | 2:53 pm

    You know what knee warmers are good for? dropping a hint to your wife that you would really like to get a ride in that day. If I walk around the house with just my knee warmers on, she gets the hint and usually gives me the hall pass for a ride. Knee warmers AND arm warmers can be used when the proposed ride is more than 50 miles and it means you will need the extra long hall pass.

    Elden, I was, in fact, wearing knee warmers on Sat when you dropped me. Maybe your theory has some truth to it.

  18. Comment by KatieA | 05.16.2007 | 3:08 pm

    It doesn’t get cold enough here for leg warmers. Winter cold is still 19 degrees celcius (don’t make me do maths). But I still see no discernible cycling use for said pieces of cloth, except for Fatty’s suggestions.

    If you’re that concerned about the cold, why not wear Skins? The whole leg ones are quite good (and make your legs look great) and removes the need for bike shorts. It would be like that episode of the Simpsons where Homer sees Flanders in the skin-tight snowsuit – “feels like I’m wearing nothing at all…”

    Urgh – I have 11 assessments due on Saturday, my brain hurts.

  19. Comment by WMdeR | 05.16.2007 | 3:32 pm

    Dear Fatty,

    We’ve got ear bands, neck warmers, wristbands, anklet sox, arm-warmers, and leg-warmers, why not fill in the gaps in transitional clothing with knee warmers and elbow sleeves? And they weigh what, 30 grams less EACH than legwarmers. That adds up, and I know I need to compensate for the stone I put on last winter.

    I usually get a free ride pass from my wife just for wearing arm warmers and kneewarmers around the house by themselves as I stumble around looking for clean (ish) kit in my bike clothing pile. They also give the fully accessorized cyclist a fantastic new tan line (in addition to the four or so other ones on his/her legs–one each for bathing suit, shorts, cycling knickers, knee warmers, and anklet sox). What is not to like?

    Seriously, for summer rides in this part of the world (CO front range), the weather is typically in the 40 (deg Fahrenheit) range in the morning, up into the 80 (deg F) range or above during the day, and back down into the 40’s (deg F) overnight. Knee warmers and arm warmers limit the number of extra layers one must schlep along on such a ride, and they can be doffed while riding as the day warms. Tuck them under the Mapei bibs and they stay up fine. I wish I could say the same about arm warmers.



  20. Comment by rexinsea | 05.16.2007 | 4:04 pm

    I’m with Ultra Rob here. I also wear the Pearl Izumi Therma fleece knee warmers all winter when I commute in Seattle. It get’s chlly here but rarely below freezing so having a the lower leg exposed is no big deal.

    In spring when I commute, it’s a little cold in the morning but warm in the evening so I can have shorts options for my commute home w/o extra baggage.

    I do agree with Fatty, those green knee warmers are very ugly and should be burned. Who would purchase such an ugly piece of clothing? Your legs are looking quite fit though. All those in the B7 should fear you big time!

  21. Comment by LanterneRouge | 05.16.2007 | 4:28 pm

    Speaking as a B7 competitor, I can say that Fatty’s Bike Nashbar brand shorts and slightly hairy legs do not intimidate me in the least. The black socks…, now that’s another story.

  22. Comment by Boz | 05.16.2007 | 5:00 pm

    I wear tights when it’s cold and shorts when it’s warm. REAL men wear Belgium knee warmers. Too much work/smell/bother for me. I’d rather be a little too warm in tights than smelly in BKW. Just a personal choice.

  23. Comment by Al Maviva | 05.16.2007 | 5:01 pm

    God help me, but I mostly agree with Dug on this one. Also with UltraRob (who must know his stuff, or his obsessive long distance racing would have killed him by now) and with Rex.

    The poster above who said ‘cover the knees below 70 degrees’ is spot on. Below that, if you ride with any pace whatsoever, you risk knee injury (chronic, like tendinitis) from cold knees. It’s not just the temperature, it’s the wind chill and your sweat that cause a problem, or in smart person terms, the adiabatic cooling.

    The alternative to knee warmers, is Belgian Knee Warmers. That’s a thick layer of warming and protective gels which cover the knees, and also maybe increase circulation. Think Atomic Balm covered with a thick layer of Vaseline… mmm… tasty. I’ll note that a few real pros ride this way, yet most pros training in Europe during the winter ride with knee warmers (and arm warmers, and many ride with fenders). But what do they know, right?

    Your problems with knee warmers are not surprising. Let’s start with the easy ones.

    You complain about how they look. Well, if you weren’t buying neon green lycra knee warmers that you put on using a cheap Photoshop knockoff, that would help. Try getting black ones, or, God forbid, knee warmers that match your team kit.

    You complain about how they constrict your thighs too much. You know why that is? Because you buy them off the bargain rack, and get whatever is left over at the end of the season, which is usually only the smallest size, or an enormous pair returned by a very fat guy who lost lots of weight and doesn’t need them. Of course none of this would ever occur to you, because your helmet is a bargain bin model also, it’s too small, and it’s constricting your bulbous noggin so that blood isn’t getting to your brain, ergo you are having trouble figuring out how to use a simple piece of cloth to keep your knees warm, trapped in a maze of speculation about why anybody would want warm knees.

    You also complain about how they fall down. Y’know why that is? Because your legs are hairy like Sasquatch’s armpits. Ever look at the inside of the knee warmers, and notice the silicon ribbing near the top and bottom? That’s there because it will hold the knee warmers in place against bare skin. They do not hold knee warmers in place on bearskin, however. Shave it, Chewbacca. It wouldn’t hurt if you wore them under your shorts as well, but given what I’m working with here, I’m hesitant to give such complicated instructions.

    Next you complain about taking them on and putting them off and how tough it would be during a ride. Like owning dogs, hammers, and power tools, it helps if you are smarter than they are. Knee warmers are perfect for rides starting at dawn, where it’s 55 at the start, and 85 at the end, four hours later; you wear them precisely because they are handy to take off mid-ride, unlike knickers or tights. You get that warming mid-ride in tights, and you are going to suffer, my friend. To take them off, you do what the pros do. You stop, get off the bike, take them off real quick, stuff ‘em in your back pocket, and then bridge back up onto the group. It’s not too hard to do it on the bike, but if you’re having trouble figuring out how to use them, I’m not going to trouble your CPU with trying to figure out how to do in-flight removal. If you’re riding alone and you’re worried about how to take them off… well, there’s no hope for you then, is there?

    As for slowing you down… well, as long as you aren’t riding in Adolescent Girl Sized SSSS, no, they don’t seem to cause a problem. Even if they did slow you down a little, the effect is probably minimal compared to arthritis, or knee replacement surgery. Now those things do slow you down noticeably.

    And on the storage issue… Man. For a guy who rides on the road a bit, you aren’t really into the culture, are you? The pockets on jerseys… yeah, that’s where we roadies carry things. Funny thing is, knee warmers fold up into a tiny little square. If you’re starting with them on, and doing the right thing during the ride (eating a Clif Bar, for instance) you will quickly have room for them in a back pocket. You would probably find this easier if you rode in real jerseys, instead of bargain-bin T-shirts.

  24. Comment by Secret Trainer | 05.16.2007 | 5:21 pm

    A pair of kneewarmers that fit properly will solve all you issues :)

    ps. kneewarmers are only to be work between 18 and 20 degrees celcius.

  25. Comment by Den | 05.16.2007 | 5:30 pm

    Your *ahem* well drawn pale green knee warmers make you look like your turning into Shrek…

    really, really….

  26. Comment by gwadzilla | 05.16.2007 | 5:32 pm

    at 234 I ask….

    who is the fat cyclist?

  27. Comment by my middle name is fred | 05.16.2007 | 6:17 pm

    Long live my knee warmers!

    15 years ago, I realized that the reason I couldn’t ride more than a mile on a wintery Boston day without having my knees unbendable for a week (seriouosly!) was beacause my knees perform very poorly when cold. Bad knee design, I guess. Blame my parents.

    Being the cheapie that I am, I bought a pair of neoprene knee supports as knee warmers and have been using them ever since. Now, I can ride in any temperature without knee pain. (Pain elsewhere, perhaps, but not in the knees). Oh, the neoprene warmers don’t fall down, either. I only wear them under my tights, usually when the temperature starrts creeping below 40 deg F. I’ve been out in -10 deg F, and the knees are still toasty at the end of the ride.

    I agree that they do slow me down a bit, but that’s the great thing about spring — I get to shed the knee warmers (and fenders, and lights), and suddenly I feel fast.

  28. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 05.16.2007 | 6:25 pm

    All my tights (both pair) have holes in the knees, hence my need for knee warmers. Also, if you tuck the upper part under your bike shorts, the warmers stay up. So do the shorts, but I think that doesn’t have anything to do with the warmers.

  29. Comment by Born4Lycra | 05.16.2007 | 7:18 pm

    Beaten to it by the lantern but I see more of a problem with your choice of socks.

  30. Comment by Rider34 | 05.16.2007 | 7:42 pm

    The neon green “flashdance” leg warmers in your 3rd illustration are a nice touch. They do an excellent job of hiding your “where is waldo” socks.

  31. Comment by TimK | 05.16.2007 | 7:51 pm

    Alma Viva’s post has inspired me to go out and buy a few more pairs tomorrow!

    This reminded me of a navy buddy who bought mens garters for his uniform, but had no idea how to wear them. I asked him later on how they were working out for him and he said “the stupid things kept pulling my skivvies down. I just use them to keep my bed sheets tight now” He was hooking them from sock to the bottom of his underwear like a woman’s garter, rather than hooking them to the lower hem of his shirt to keep it tight.

    I guess it’s safe to assume no matching leg warmers for the FC jersey.

  32. Comment by Dave Nice | 05.16.2007 | 8:20 pm

    I like wool tights or manprees

    never have been a fan of the ankle warmer….

    My buddy chris always has red knee warmers and it does make him ez to spot =)

  33. Comment by Jill | 05.16.2007 | 10:05 pm

    Wow … titanium ostrich knees. What a grand idea. Does this mean you can sit backwards on a bicycle to pedal? I bet you could really freak out oncoming traffic that way.

  34. Comment by buckythedonkey | 05.17.2007 | 12:14 am

    Didn’t Fatty once pose a question about a strange crank/chain/cog configuration that turned out to be a 2-speed bike, the idea being that you pedal in one direction for low gear and the other direction for high?

    The reversable ostrich knee (ROK) would be the ideal accessory for such a rig. I expect we’ll see this in Tour’s soon-to-be-revealed Unlimited Modified class before long.

  35. Comment by Lowrydr | 05.17.2007 | 4:29 am

    Hey, are them Twin Six socks?

  36. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 05.17.2007 | 4:51 am

    Ooh yes twin six socks they are the good guys it must be the legs and ankles then and not the socks that are a problem. My mistake!

  37. Comment by gewwez | 05.17.2007 | 4:51 am

    didn’t you once say you had large quads?

  38. Comment by Al Maviva | 05.17.2007 | 4:51 am

    History shows again and again, how nature points out the folly of man…


    Ps. He’s a fast guy and a well known bike raconteur in teh mid-’lantic region. Don’t let his claimed fightin’ weight fool ya.

  39. Comment by Boz | 05.17.2007 | 5:24 am

    This post should have been filed under stirring the pot.

  40. Comment by Highwaymunky | 05.17.2007 | 5:34 am

    Only in the coldest most frozen snowy days……. no i still wouldn’t wear bloody knee warmers, wear trousers or 3/4 leggings/shorts, skirt anything but knee warmers.

    With you all the way fatty!

    But I do my riding in the mud over rocks and trees and I’m not quite the shaved legged, aerodynamic, speed mongers most here are.

    My knee pads keep my knees safe and warm though….. is that the same?? OMG!

  41. Comment by bici beeyatch | 05.17.2007 | 5:55 am

    i love my knee warmers, cause my knees get cold, but my calves don’t. what is not-awesome about them, is, because my quads aren’t as heavily musclelled as yours, the top of the knee warmer makes a bulge on my thigh, a fat bulge, under my shorts near the leg grippers. yuck! i have to use my “i don’t see that” super power like i do when there is a dead skunk or cat on the road to avoid the trauma of it. on the up side though, if the knee warmers increase pedaling difficulty by 180% per minute, they also make my legs 180% stronger per minute, right? cool!

  42. Comment by bici beeyatch | 05.17.2007 | 5:55 am

    i love my knee warmers, cause my knees get cold, but my calves don’t. what is not-awesome about them, is, because my quads aren’t as heavily musclelled as yours, the top of the knee warmer makes a bulge on my thigh, a fat bulge, under my shorts near the leg grippers. yuck! i have to use my “i don’t see that” super power like i do when there is a dead skunk or cat on the road to avoid the trauma of it. on the up side though, if the knee warmers increase pedaling difficulty by 180% per minute, they also make my legs 180% stronger per minute, right? cool!

  43. Comment by bici beeyatch | 05.17.2007 | 6:01 am

    sorry about the double post. just trying to be like dug..

  44. Comment by spoke | 05.17.2007 | 6:11 am

    hey al– thanks for getting that damn godzilla song stuck in my head. just caught myself singing it!

  45. Comment by Steve | 05.17.2007 | 6:15 am

    Knee warmers, tights, manprees… just cover YOUR knees. I’ve seen better legs on tables.

  46. Comment by LeMyke | 05.17.2007 | 6:54 am

    Maybe you should try Assos brand knee warmers. I think anything they make wouldn’t slip down. You’d also have luxury knees.

  47. Comment by BIKEMIKE | 05.17.2007 | 7:49 am

    if you wear them backwards, they will fall up.

  48. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.17.2007 | 8:23 am

    I think I see your problem, Fatty, with knee warmers in general, and with keeping those awful lime green ones up, in particular.

    Those are not knee warmers. They are a dissected felt Bible character robe (The Prodigal Son – after he was feeding the pigs, perhaps?) your wife used in Sunday School class to tell felt stories to kindergardeners.

    The pig slop on them obviously has ruined the structural integrity.

    I hope this is helpful, and possibly encouraging, after AlMalviva was so brutally honest with you. (That sort of honesty can be discouraging, but I am sure Al means in in a most loving sort of way.)


  49. Comment by Steve | 05.17.2007 | 8:43 am

    FLANNELGRAPHS!!!! Holy cow! I loved those as a kid. I haven’t thought about those for years. That explains my affinity to Felt bicycles!

    You gotta love a site that pulls all this together!

  50. Comment by kenny | 05.17.2007 | 9:16 am

    dug and rick(NHRN) are right. When I’m running around the house in nothing but arm warmers and knee warmers, I feel extra spunky and I know I’m gonna get lucky.

  51. Comment by dpcowboy | 05.17.2007 | 9:28 am

    This is another “old school thing”. Sans Auto had it right when he repeated what somebody told him about 70 degrees and keeping your knees covered.
    Several different clothing items have been tried for cyclists. Knickers are popular now, even with the pros, and they look very ridiculous: there is no possible way that the positive effect of warmth can outweigh the idiotic look of arm warmers, knee warmers, leg warmers, or knickers. Simply wear tights over your shorts…the lycra tights they have now weigh about nothing, and roll up to the size of a large cigar. A long sleeve jersey in the new high-tech fabrics can be used if it is cold enough for your arms to be goose-pimply. A lot of top riders use l/s jerseys even in warmer weather, for sun and crash protection. And for all the wanna be’s who shave their legs (even semi-regularly) but don’t get massage, and just have to show off your juicy gams in 55 degree weather…. just slop on some o’ that massage cream, heated oil, home brew mix, or Ben-Gay….your knees, calves, and whatever will be fine. (and silky/shiny too…ooooohhhh!)

  52. Comment by dkirkavitch | 05.17.2007 | 9:31 am

    Hey Fatty,
    Good luck on the KTR this weekend. Be sure to take your knee warmers. I hear it can get pretty cold in the desert at night.

  53. Comment by hades | 05.17.2007 | 10:17 am

    You state above, that normal humans have wedge shaped legs and that knee warmers turn into ankle warmers when they slip and fall. Well, I am not a normal human as my calves are bigger than my quads… OK, not bigger, but about the same size (seriously – it looks really weird from behind, or so I’m told). The upshot of this information is that I have used knee warmers and, in my case, when they slip, they turn into lower-knee-bunches-of-cloth-that-get-trapped-in-my-knee-pits-and-gather-
    So, I sewed myself some (awesome) knickers from an old pair of 90s wool dress pants for the colder days when I personally (fashion and science be damned or praised) like to have my calves exposed, but want my knees to be warm.
    I got conned into the knee warmers because my arm warmers are approximately my favorite bicycle clothing accessory, and I thought the knee warmers would be like arm warmers for my knees. Needless to say they are not.

  54. Comment by Jerry Case | 05.17.2007 | 11:14 am


    You are wearing your knee warmers wrong. They don’t just start where your shorts stop. They extend up over your thighs, thus providing TWO layers over your quads, which I find just as useful as keeping my knees warm. Good knee warmers extend most of the way down the calf too– at least better, longer cut ones–the woolies from Swobo or Spot. So you’ve got much of your calf muscle covered, while your shinbones–like the legs of birds in winter — don’t really need any coverage at all.

    So why not wear legwarmers? Cuz legwarmers + overboots make you look like a gay pixie, whereas kneewarmers + overboots looks superbad.

    This is objectively true and provable.

  55. Comment by Steve | 05.17.2007 | 11:21 am

    They’re not pixies, they are fairies.

    “Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
    Yeah I saw it, I saw it, I tell you no lies
    Yeah fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
    I saw it, I saw it with my own two eyes”

  56. Comment by Den | 05.17.2007 | 11:32 am

    Steve – Fairies also wear clogs with their dress pants to work. Foot injury, yea right! You’re just think you’re making a fashion statement.

    Didn’t you get leg warmers this year? Next thing you know you’ll be following Kenny, Doug and Rick’s example. I think I may call in sick tomorrow…

  57. Comment by Pinchie | 05.17.2007 | 12:01 pm

    Save your powder for something that really deserves it, Fatty.

    Like spats or jodhpurs.

    Knee warmers are the last bastion of an endangered virtue: modesty in springtime.

  58. Comment by mark | 05.17.2007 | 12:13 pm

    I can’t believe a guy who used to rollerblade to work is doling out advice on what to wear.

    I saw a guy today on my way back from lunch. He was on rollerblades and wearing shorts and one of those black fleece vests (unzipped to his navel) that IT companies give away for product launches and the like. Except that he had nothing on under the vest. And it was 90 degrees F outside. I can’t help but wonder if that was fatty in his former life.

  59. Comment by Steve | 05.17.2007 | 12:16 pm

    Ah, the Romantic Era of velocipede. The only thing more arcane would have been include a critique of Gigot De Mouton Sleeves.

  60. Comment by mark r | 05.17.2007 | 12:44 pm

    For commuting, nothing beats cargo pants that convert from pants to shorts with a zipper. I just wish they made them in wool.

  61. Comment by Wonderdyke | 05.17.2007 | 1:00 pm

    The question that your post and the ensuing comments have brought up for me is – why don’t all of you just buy some damn pants? There can be no temperature at which your knees need to be warm and snuggly whilst your poor shins and calves are left out in the cold. Muscles need to be warmer than joints do – as your cartilage, ligaments, etc. don’t really “warm up.” However, should any of you be considering a role in the oh-so-off-Broadway version of Flashdance, rock those knee-warmers out!

  62. Comment by Dopey | 05.17.2007 | 2:02 pm

    While I rarely, if ever, disagree with your outlook on cycling or your general observations, I agree with dug. You’re screwy. Knee warmers do have a wonderful function and I have never had problems with circulation while wearing them. And though pants are the argued alternative it is easier to remove knee warmers (and they are cheaper). Why when would you remove knee warmers, you ask? Well, like tomorrow, I will start the ride in 45 degree weather and it will be 85 by noon. Thanks knee warmers.

  63. Comment by dug | 05.17.2007 | 2:07 pm

    wonderdyke, i bought some damn pants, and my 8 year old son now chases me around yelling “capris, capris, capris.”

    he’s in the longest time out ever.

  64. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.17.2007 | 3:00 pm

    he’s in the longest time out ever.

    …for not saying “manprees, manprees, manprees”?

  65. Comment by MAJ Mike | 05.17.2007 | 3:47 pm

    I am a man.
    I have never worn knee warmers.

  66. Comment by Al Maviva | 05.17.2007 | 7:10 pm

    MAJ Mike – there’s no glory in being stupid. Ask your first sergeant about this. Then have the ortho check out those cold knees of yours, and keep ‘em warm thereafter. And for goodness sake, stay out of light infantry divisions and any units involved in departing perfectly good airplanes mid-flight. Just take the word of a guy whose knees can actually speak three languages.

    WonderDyke – we don’t wear cycling tights all the time because sometimes the cycling bottoms are too hot, sometimes they are too cold, but we all want them to be just right. The point behind knee warmers, arm warmers, wind vests, and other “transitional clothing” is you can adjust your temperature level mid-ride. This comes in really handy on super long rides that start out in the pre-dawn dark and end in the afternoon, or if you find yourself up in the mountains. It is way colder 5,000+ feet up, and although you may have sweated buckets on the way up the hill, a ten or 15 minute descent at 65 MPH will put frost on you and make you hypothermic in a heartbeat.

    Besides, cycling tights cost a 5417load of money compared to shorts, and a couple pairs of knee warmers let you make do in spring/fall without having to buy a whole new wardrobe for the bottom end of the engine.

  67. Comment by Born4Lycra | 05.17.2007 | 9:10 pm

    Al M I was with you until you misspelt raconteur – you meant wreckontour didn’t you?
    FC my wife Sal bet’s even though the shot was of your legs you were holding your guts in as well which is why the legs all tightened up. She also reckons you are listing to Port in the photos – still better she is criticising you than me.

  68. Comment by MAJ Mike | 05.18.2007 | 2:31 am

    Al, I am a huge fan of the phrase “there is a fine line between hard and stupid.” I have always exercised, in a variety of conditions ad in a variety of manners, under the idea that if you start off a bit cold and finish a bit warm you did it right. Now, I don’t live in a place that becomes frozen tundra or high desert in the winter, but I have never encountered a ride where kneewarmers would be necessary. If it’s to be that cold, I just wear long pants.

    Incidentally, my 77 year old uncle (who is the MAN…he once rode with a buddy fron San Diego to Chicago, alternating one driving support and one riding) wears eans on his bike when it gets too cold. He just rubber bands them out of the way of the gear.

  69. Comment by Weean | 05.18.2007 | 3:46 am

    Rubber bands? doesn’t your uncle wear socks??

  70. Comment by MTB W | 05.18.2007 | 5:41 am

    FC, Good luck on the KTR this weekend! We know you like ultra hard and long rides but really, 142 miles on single/double track? Self supported? I assume you are doing it on ss 29er too, to boot. Hats off to you (and Susan for allowing you to ride this insane ride/race)! You certainly have Leadville locked in your sites now (my guess – 8:56). Just be prepared for some rain this weekend (on the plus side, you won’t need to carry as much water).

    Good luck also to FC’s buddies who are also crazy enough to do the KTR.

    Hmm, wait a minute, I know the real reason you’re doing the KTR – it’s a massive (and crazy) weight loss program for B7. FC will probably shed another 5 lbs. I guess I need to get serious (darn it, where’s my ephedra? I know I had it around here somewhere. What? You thought I was going to lose weight by exercise and diet? silly rabbit! That takes hard work and will power.)

  71. Comment by Argentius | 05.18.2007 | 8:44 am

    Lookout! Controversial post topic!

    Knee warmers are good. They keep your knees warm.

    Do your SHINS really get cold? There’s nothing there.

    I can take my knee warmers off while riding, and I am one of the least-coordinated bike racers out there.

    Anyone ever do this experiment with you? Put your hand on your thigh, and hold it there for about 5 seconds. Now, move it to your knee. See how much colder it is? That’s because there’s no circulation there, dummy. There’s also a lot of tendons, ligaments, and sneak-attack rocket missiles hiding underneath your patellae.

    KNEES suck. They are pretty fragile. Knee warmers help protect ‘em. At least, I am barely 25 and my knees are a squeaky, creaky mess. I don’t want things to get any worse…

    Fatty, you lived in Seattle. You know how it goes. The weather refuses to make up its mind, but with knee warmers, arm warmers, and a vest, you can rock anything.

  72. Comment by cicero | 05.20.2007 | 1:27 pm

    Let me get this straight; I want to make certain I understand. We are talking about knee warmers being idiotic??? Firstly, outside of someone who races professionally or competes in triathalons, the greater majority of humankind think cycling clothes look idotic, in general. Spandex is a horrible look for 98% for most people and about 65% of cyclists. Would we, as cyclists, ever wear a pair of spandex shorts if we were the only ones wearing them? I have given up on spandex shorts and silly looking jerseys about five years ago, and it has been nothing short of liberating. I do a lot of self-contained bicycle touring and grew tired of being embarrassed to go into a convenience store looking like a cross between a balerina and a member of the starship enterprise. There are many comfortable, more aesthetic, and practical (not to mention less expensive) solutions to the most needless and succesful marketing campaign (the idea that, outside bicycle racing, special clothing is neccessary) since bottled water that allow a cyclist to peddle with dignity and self-esteem. Please, join me. Reject the needless, unflattering, and impractical bicyling enthusiast clothing and ride with pride!

    Ron “Peddle With Dignity” Mitchell

  73. Comment by Ian Hopper | 05.21.2007 | 1:00 am

    Wow… 72 responses and no one pointed out the very first thing I could think of to use my knee warmers for (other than keeping my knees warm): Tie a knot in the narrow end, put your full waterbottle in it (or any other heavy-ish thing you can find), swing it round your head and wack that agressive dog (or the Jerk that Mark ran into) with it. If need be, you could use a leg, knee (or arm) warmer as a water pre-filter on a backcountry bicycle trip if you were out of water and the only water available would clog your filtration unit in 2 seconds. Also, if you were to do a bicycle themed strip tease, these could be an interesting first item to swing around your head suggestively… kind of like stockings on a stripper… not that I’ve ever seen anything like THAT before…

    I have knee warmers and hairy legs as well: maybe that’s what they never seem to stay up unless I ‘m wearing tight cycling shorts (virtually never; I prefer baggies). They do help fatty, but yeah, getting em’ to stay up is a bitch.

    BTW, Knickers are NOT capris… they’re LONG shorts, or if you must “clamdiggers”. Hey remember “Jams” from the 80’s? Wish I still had those now…

  74. Comment by One of Seven | 05.22.2007 | 6:21 pm

    Man, I hope my husband reads this knee warmer report — I think he looks like a dork with them on. And then there’s the whole “what to do with them?” dilemma. SecretTrainer, are you for real (sorry; dumb-ass non-cyclist here)?? We barely ever get weather that warm out here in the Canadian Rockies! I might just have to dispose of those things out surreptitiously!!

  75. Pingback by Fall Cycling Gear « Cycling Carson City | 10.18.2007 | 6:17 pm

    [...] Knee warmers are also available, but I’ve haven’t had good luck with them. They tend to constantly slip down unless you have strong elastic on your shorts. There is a great (and very funny) review of knee warmers over on the Fat Cyclist blog HERE. I think knickers may be a better choice than knee warmers. [...]

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  78. Comment by KickAssChick | 09.19.2008 | 10:37 pm

    Sorry, but any mammal should not wear spandex so tight one can see hairs if they forgot to shave.

    Why even bother at all.

  79. Comment by Avril | 10.6.2008 | 4:09 pm

    Ok maybe for cycling knee warmers seem silly and pointless but as I didnt know they existed other than outside my imagination I am rather glad to find that they do. I have had 3 surgeries on my knee to repair torn ACL and cartalige and in cold weather my knees (mostly the operated one) become sore and stiff. A knee warmer is exactly what I need to wear under my pants to keep my knees warm and allow me to walk and climb stairs properly rather than ending up limping. I have knee supports but they are too tight for this and that is not necessary, I just need something soft and warm. Silly though they may be they might actually be the answer to my problem though I have to wonder why if a cyclist is going to wear knee warmers why not go all out and wear full lenght pants.

  80. Comment by cyclegoddess | 01.4.2009 | 8:24 pm

    as for looking like a “a cross between a ballerina and a member of the starship enterprise”, frankly, I think that sounds hot!
    If I see my guy in his knee warmers, bare naked looking for his shorts, I just see it as ‘lingerie”!
    I love my knee warmers.But I cant say I look good, here in Canberra it gets really cold and since I have little to no body fat( except, annoyingly where I dont want it) I wear shorts, tights, knee warmers and leg warmers often at the same time.( Im not going very fast though at least Im warm.)

  81. Comment by Mike | 05.6.2009 | 2:00 pm

    Where DID you learn maths??

    A 1% increase in effort on each pedal stroke will add 1% effort no matter how many pedal-strokes there are.

    90 x 1% is indeed 90%

    but 1% of 90 pedal strokes is still 1%

    Think about it.. If you buy two items with 10% discount, it is not an overall saving of 20%, is it?
    It’s a 10% saving IN TOTAL.

    Everyone actually feel free to actually think about that before springing to reply..

  82. Comment by Mike | 05.6.2009 | 2:04 pm

    Ahem yes btw i’m a Dh/Fr’er and have never worn ANY skintight clothing (or shaven anywhere apart from my face). Came across this whilst looking for Knee Warmers to go underneath a set of pads.

    Do they come in different thicknesses?
    I’m after a thick but Short pair just to cover the behind-the-knee rub zone, any suggestions would be great!

    Ta, Mike

  83. Comment by Jory | 06.4.2009 | 4:42 pm

    I was wondering about knee warmers. Thanks for saving me the trouble. Still it is wise to keep the knees warm for joint lubrication and blood flow.

    Does anyone want to comment on preventing knee injury, with fast short cadence and pants for cooling temperatures.


  84. Comment by pat richo | 07.29.2009 | 5:05 am

    wow that guy really hates knee warmers i think i should start a web page similar to this cause i really hate soccer players there all big girls who wear shin pads. and the worst part is that it is part of there game to take dives. Like its not just the few low people who try to exploit the ref’s lack of concentration its actually part of there game disgraceful people should be playing rugby union that’s a mans game also cycling is pretty good. by the way i like how you say what you think and don’t really care what others say even if your totally wrong about knee warmers

  85. Comment by Mike | 08.25.2009 | 7:16 am

    Make a site like that mate, you’re right they are overpaid wastes of space.

  86. Comment by Allie | 10.25.2009 | 11:04 am

    FC – thank goodness you have the courage to address the conspiracy of silence surrounding these diabolical garments! I, quite frankly, have been too cowardly to raise these questions in a public forum. (yeah, ok, I’m a bit behind in my reading; been too busy riding)

  87. Comment by Pablo | 12.10.2009 | 8:56 pm

    I really like my knee warmers. It is one of the best inventions that keep me warm during cold winters. They are comfortable and serve their purpose as intended. I have no complains about knee warmers.

  88. Comment by amit | 12.6.2010 | 10:05 pm

    have to tried angora knee warmers ?
    i ordered mine at

  89. Comment by Angie | 01.26.2011 | 3:14 pm

    I really don’t like knee warmers either. I am a tall thin woman, but even so, I like all women, have extra fat on my thighs. The top elastic of the knee warmers cause a bulge that is not attractive. I either have thin thighs clad in my black short, a bulge of skin fat, and then the sagging knee warmers start. Or… I have two unsightly bulges that come from tucking the knee warmers up into the hem of the shorts. As a woman, you are doubly cursed.

  90. Comment by Jon | 02.13.2011 | 3:01 am

    Love my knee warmers. Not sure why yours aren’t staying up, but mine stay up fine. As far as the rubber gripper elastic cutting off circulation, there’s rubber gripper elastic at the bottom of your shorts/bibs too, so what’s the difference?

    And yes, my knees get cold when my shins don’t. So a knee warmer makes sense for me. And when I warm up, I take them off at a red light or stop sign in less then a minute and stick them in my seat bag.
    It’s not the big bumbling 10 minute ordeal that you make it out to be, lol!

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  93. Comment by Ian | 09.15.2011 | 11:37 am

    I live in Canada. Sometimes it’s too cold for shorts but too warm for tights. Also, the temperature can change considerably during a ride, and knee warmes are easy to store in jersey pockets.

    Unlike your shins and calves your knees spend at least half the time pointing into the wind, so keeping them warm isn’t such a dumb idea.


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