Reviewed: Three cyclocross bits we love

Reviewed: Three cyclocross bits we love

By: Spencer Powlison
Photos by: Brad Kaminski

Cyclocross veers toward self-parody with its crazy penchant for specialization — tubular wheels mounted with sand-specific race tires, quarter-sleeve skinsuits for cool, but not cold days — it’s enough to drive you nuts.

Though we love ‘cross season as much as the next rider, pinning a number in their running car to stay warm, things can get out of hand. However, this fall, we came across three (mostly) cyclocross-specific pieces of apparel that we love, and best of all, each sells for less than $100.

Bontrager Stormshell Over Sock – $50

These thin socks are made from what Bontrager calls Profila Stormshell fabric — essentially like a Gore-Tex material. Wear them over a thin sock, ideally wool, and they’ll keep your feet dry and protected from the wind.

Why they’re great for ‘cross:

Normal booties simply don’t work when you’re hopping off the bike and running through mud. The toes get filled with gunk and eventually pull off the front of your shoe. The Stormshells keep things tidily tucked into your shoes, not adding much volume, and delivering a lot of the same protection.

Will they work for other rides?

These over socks would be great for mountain biking on cold, wet days also. However, if we’re putting in winter base miles in nasty weather, a true bootie is probably best for maximum warmth.

Endura Thermolite Full Zip Legwarmer – $46

Cyclocross racers try to avoid leg warmers as much as possible when racing because they can bunch up, fall down, or become just plain hot due to the intensity of the races. However, in chilly weather, you need to keep your legs covered until the start whistle blows. Endura’s leg warmers allow for easy removal just before your call-up.

Why they’re great for ‘cross:

Being able to simply zip these fleecy warmers off at the start is a small luxury, but it’s worth it. You don’t have to take off your shoes and worry about readjusting them after. Alternately, there’s no need to stretch your warmers over grubby shoes to rip them off.

Will they work for other rides?

Endura’s leg warmers are functional, but over the course of a long ride, you might get irritated by the zippers. They don’t limit flexibility all that much, but enough so that we’d pick a traditional pair of warmers for a day on the road.

Pearl Izumi Transfer Wool Baselayer – $80

Made of a Merino/synthetic blend, Pearl Izumi’s short-sleeve baselayer is impressively warm. Plus, it’s form-fitting and cut to wear best while you’re in a cycling position.

Why it’s great for ‘cross:

We don’t all wear skinsuits in cyclocross races, but if you do, you’ve probably noticed that warm base layers are tricky to fit under tight tops. Pearl’s baselayer is excellently cut and has smooth polyester panels near the shoulders to make arm movement more comfortable.

Will it work for other rides?

Of these three items, this baselayer is by far the most versatile. You’ll appreciate its warmth on any spring or fall ride, and its trim fit will give you the freedom to wear it under any kind of jersey or skinsuit.