I’ve never really been that big a fan of the Knicker, although for regular Road riding it makes some sense, it keeps your Knees warm and covered and the roubaix material allows the muscles to be kept warmer. Although I have a couple of pairs in my wardrobe they rarely see the light of day, musing I wondered why.
I thnk in part I have odd shaped legs, big thighs, big calfs and slightly longer in the thigh. So the lower cuff never seems to fit that well. Ironically the best fitting one I have is from Sugoi, not a big road brand but with more heritage in Tri (although I’m sure that will change with the sponsorship of Liquigas). I have used them for commuting journeys, but often when going for a ride I would prefer to use a pair of knee warmers with some bib shorts. In recent years with brushed or roubaix bib shorts becoming easier to find it allows people like myself to gain all the benefits of the Knicker (or the 3/4) without the fit issues that surround it (well at least for me).
The Pro peloton has had some brief periods of use. In 1994 Johan Museeuw used them in that years edition of the Tour of Flanders, the result was:
The following year Museeuw was back, sans Knickers, and sporting a fine pair of Belgian Knee Warmers, the result would be turned and a new page would be written in his career. Some would say that it was a coincidence, some would say that it showed mentally he wasn’t there. He didn’t watch that finish of the 1994 ride until the night before the ’95 edition of the Ronde, I wonder if he saw them and made sure that he wasn’t wearing them (ok I know the two days where different, ’94 colder, ’95 warmer, clear and sunny) but I can’t remember Museeuw ever wearing a pair competively again (although if you find a photo, I won’t be shocked)
The only other races where I can think that you see a fair amount of the Knicker is in the bookends of the season. Paris Nice, the race to the sun, which normally starts off bloody cold, and can see snow, deserves a little more protection for the body that early on in the year. The other race that springs to mind is the Giro di Lombardi as the weather can mirror those faced by the peloton in March.
Although I can see all of the benefits of the Knicker, it just won’t be a piece of kit I’ll be adding to the wardrobe as I prefer the option of brused shorts and knee warmers, or if I am feeling very Flandrien a good dose of embrocation, as Belgium Knee Warmers match any kit and never go out of style.
some good examples of Belgian Knee Warmers in use at this years Paris Roubaix, photos by http://www.flickr.com/photos/gavinmorton1/ Belgian