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What’s the Right Way to Wear Warmers?

Road bike rider logo
By Fred Matheny
Q: This will be my first winter on the bike. I’m confused about whether to wear leg warmers under or over shorts. And what about tights? Should I wear shorts underneath? — Robert M.

A: Wear leg warmers or knee warmers under your shorts legs. Put on your shorts and socks first, then roll back the shorts. Pull the warmers on so the rubber gripper band at the top is mid-thigh or slightly higher. Then roll the shorts back down. There should be plenty of overlap to help hold the warmers in place.

Arm warmers are worn the same way. Pull them to the top of your arms, then let your jersey sleeves overlap. If you’re wearing a short-sleeve base layer underneath, you can tuck it into the warmers to prevent cold air leaks.

As for tights, wear regular cycling shorts underneath. Some tights come with a padded liner (chamois) and can be worn without shorts. But then you’d have to wash the tights after every ride.

If you wear shorts inside the unpadded tights, you still need to wash them, of course, but the tights won’t need cleaning for several rides unless they get wet or muddy. This approach help tights last longer, which is good because they’re more expensive than shorts.

During more than 30 years in cycling journalism, Fred Matheny has written hundreds of fitness & training articles for top bike magazines and websites. Many of his best eBooks and eArticles are on sale in the RBR eBookstore. As a rider, he has raced to medals in state and national championships, plus a senior world record in the Team Race Across America. As a coach, he has worked with hundreds of riders at PAC Tour Training Camps, Carpenter/Phinney Bike Camps, and Dirt Camp.



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