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Cold feet equals misery; here's how to keep your toes toasty

Winter riding is challenging, and wet and frozen feet don't make it any easier. Your feet, right in the line of spray generated by the front wheel (especially without mudguards), can suffer more than any other body part. Overshoes, designed to protect your feet from the weather, are a top investment if you're aiming to ride through the winter, whether you’re a racer or commuter.

Put simply, overshoes are made from a weatherproof fabric designed to sit snugly over your shoes and keep the rain and wind out, preventing your feet from getting wet and cold. They broadly fall into two camps: those that are waterproof, and those that are just windproof.

Neoprene is a popular material for waterproof overshoes, and has the advantage that when water does finally get inside, your feet don’t freeze; the dampness stays relatively warm in there. Nylon and polyurethane are other popular materials, used sometimes in combination with neoprene, with a waterproof layer to add extra protection.

Overshoes aren’t perfect by any means. Ride in heavy rain and your feet will get wet sooner or later, but you can delay that from happening with good quality overshoes. The biggest chink in their armour is water getting in around the leg openings, soaking down your tights, and through the cleat holes in the sole. Overshoes with good weather protection, including taped seams, a Velcro strip around the ankle, waterproof zips and a taller ankle will delay the onset of wet feet.

Overshoes typically have a rear opening with a zip to seal them up, making pulling them on and off easy. For insulation in really cold weather, you want to keep the soles of your shoes as well covered as possible because a lot of heat can escape there. Some overshoes have much more sole coverage than others – it's something that's worth checking before you splash the cash.

Sizing is very important. It’s always worth trying on overshoes with your own shoes in the shop. Differently designed shoes with various buckles and ratchets can work better with some overshoes.

Typically black (to hide all the dirt) though other colours are available, some overshoes have generous reflective details to boost your night-time visibility — some are better suited to commuting for this reason.

As well as keeping the wet out, overshoes provide another layer of insulation, and some have a thicker material to provide more warmth on really cold rides. Generally speaking, the thicker the overshoe, the more it's going to keep the cold out. A trick some cyclists resort to on really awful days is two wear two pairs of overshoes for even more protection, although that will have an effect on flexibility around your ankle.

Toe covers are handy for days when it’s not cold or damp enough for full overshoes. Typically made from neoprene, they're ideal if your shoes are well vented, and are very useful in the autumn. Another use for them, and one we’ll admit to have resorted to on more than a few occasions, is wearing toe covers under overshoes for a double layer of protection.

So, now you know what to look for in overshoes, here are 12 good examples.

dhb Aeron Lab Neoshell Overshoes — £40

dhb Aeron LAB overshoes-1.jpg

dhb's Aeron LAB Neoshell overshoes offer excellent waterproofing, breathability and a lightweight feel with a solid underside that makes the £50 price tag a bit more bearable.

The worst weather that these saw was three hours of falling rain and plenty of standing water. They kept out everything so we really can't fault them for normal rain. Maybe the heaviest stuff would get through and deep standing water might flood the cleat holes, but for normal riding, these are as good as we've tried.

The temperature range was also pretty good thanks to the breathability. Weve used these from around 12°C down to about 5°C on their own. Anything lower than that and we popped some oversocks underneath for a little extra insulation. But the front toe section covered the vents on our shoes so no chilly air was getting in. For harder rides and mild weather, they breathe well, though you'll probably get sweaty feet if you go for it up a climb in mild weather.

Read our review of the dhb Aeron Lab Neoshell Overshoes

Caratti Neoprene Windproof Toe Warmers — £5

Caratti Neoprene Windproof Toe Warmers-1.jpg

Caratti's Neoprene Windproof Toe Covers are the perfect riding companions as the transition between seasons takes place. They cover the vents of your summer shoes first thing in the chilly morning and slip easily into your jersey pocket if things warm up a little.

Toe warmers have quite a few uses. This time of year, they are a nifty solution for those early morning rides when you know that the temperature is going to warm up while you are out, or when things are really brutal – think snow and freezing temperatures – they can be an extra layer above or beneath a pair of traditional overshoes.

The 3mm neoprene construction offers some impressive windproofing and even if you do get wet feet they hold in a lot of heat to stop you getting cold toes.

Read our review of the Caratti Neoprene Windproof Toe Warmers

Lusso Windtex Stealth Over Boots — £30

Lusso Windtex Stealth Over Boots.jpg

The Lusso Windtex Stealth overboots offer a large working temperature range across a myriad of different weather conditions. And don't let that Windtex name fool you – these booties will also keep the rain at bay for way longer than you'd expect of a fabric this light and thin.

Read our review of the Lusso Windtex Stealth Over Boots

Galibier Mistral Toe Covers — £9.60

Galibier Mistral toe covers 2.jpg

The Galibier Mistral Toe Covers bring together strong protection, warmth and water resistance. They also come with an impressively low price.

I used to be a huge advocate of overshoes when the temperature drops, but I haven't regularly worn any for a year, instead using toe covers in all but the coldest conditions. They have one big advantage: you can just leave them on your shoes, so you don't need to constantly struggle into a set of thick overshoes because it's a bit cold outside.

Read our review of the Galibier Mistral Toe Covers

Ekoi Heat Concept Overshoes — £79.86

Ekoi Heat Concept Black Overshoes.jpg

Ekoi's Heat Concep overshoes aim to keep your extremities from freezing in the cold using a system of integrated heating elements and lithium polymer batteries. And do you know what? They work.

The heating elements in the overshoes certainly make a noticeable difference to the warmth of your feet on a cold ride. It was pretty easy to confirm this, simply by turning one of the overshoes on and leaving the other one off. At the end of two hours' riding in temperatures not far north of zero, it wasn't hard to remember which foot had been heated. It was the difference between losing feeling in your toes, and being cold, but comfortable.

Unfortunately they seem to be out of stock of everything but XL at the moment, but the rest of Ekoi's range of overshoes is well worth a look.

Read our review of the Ekoi Heat Concept Overshoes

Madison Sportive PU Thermal Overshoes — £22.99

Madison Sportive Aero overshoes.jpg

Madison's Sportive PU Thermal overshoes are a great option for wet weather riding, with the added thermal benefits providing some much-appreciated insulation at times.

Although described as a mid-weight overshoe by Madison, they don't struggle when the temperature gets down to low single figures.

Featuring a fleece lining that fits snugly to your shoes in tandem with an unvented, taped waterproof top layer, these overshoes are surprisingly warm in all conditions bar freezing or below.

Read our review of the Madison Sportive PU Thermal Overshoes
Find a Madison dealer

SealSkinz Neoprene Halo Overshoes — £20 - £31.80

SealSkinz Halo overshoes

SealSkinz Neoprene Halo Overshoes incorporate a powerful LED light in the heel, a clever idea that I'm surprised has never been done before. Don't discount them as being a gimmick, they really do work well and are ideal for regular after dark cyclists.

Read our review of the SealSkinz Neoprene Halo Overshoes
Find a SealSkinz dealer

Sealskinz Waterproof Cycle Over Socks — £23.15

Sealskinz Waterproof Over Cycle Sock

Less of an overshoe and more an oversock, albeit a waterproof oversock, the SealSkinz Waterproof Cycle Over Socks offer lightweight protection against wind and rain that fall somewhere between Belgian booties (over socks) and full-on neoprene overshoes.

Read our review of the Sealskinz Waterproof Cycle Over Socks
Find a Sealskinz dealer

BBB Arctic Duty overshoes — £54.95

At first glance you could be forgiven in thinking these are some sort of white water footwear. They're quite thick and rubbery rather than the svelte neoprene jobs we wear in warmer 'cool' weather. These are the wellies of the overshoe world. Not exactly sexy. What they lack in glamour and sophistication they more than make up for in their ability to deflect falling rain, road spray and even deep bow wave trips through flood puddles.

Read our review of the BB Arctic Duty overshoes
Find a BBB dealer

Sportful Reflex 2 Windstopper Booties — ~£46

Sportful Windstopper Reflex booties

These Sportful WS Bootie Reflex overshoes employ Gore's Windstopper fabric and serve to keep your feet warm and keep out most of the rain and cold out.

They're not 100% waterproof, but on typically showery days they'll keep most of the rain out and it needs a decent spell of prolonged rain before saturation occurs. They cope just fine when it's not raining but the roads are slick with water.

Read our review of the Sportful Reflex Windstopper Booties

GripGrab Arctic Overshoes — £56

GripGrab Arctic Overshoes

The Grip Grab Arctic Overshoes are great for those properly cold days we sometimes get in January and February. They provide excellent insulation and very effective waterproofing. With 80% neoprene, these were always going to be warm, but we're also impressed by their ease of fit and adjustability.

Read our review of the GripGrab Arctic Overshoes

Velotoze — £14.99

Velotoze Tall Cover

Like a swimming cap for your feet, these divide opinion and can make your feet very sweaty indeed. These are, however, the most waterproof overshoes in this list.

When placed directly onto the shin, they prevent water from seeping down into your socks and also offer complete windproofing. When worn on top of oversocks, they form possibly the ultimate deep winter combination.

They're also surprisingly robust for what is essentially a thick balloon. They are the most fragile covers in this list though.

Read our review of the Velotoze shoe covers

Want more options? See the full road.cc overshoes review archive

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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

24 comments

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Freddy56 [446 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Galibier's Barrier for the road and Endura's MT500 for CX or mtb. The Endura have the same rubber sole as the BB ones pictured but for £20 less and are bomb proof.

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stwjimmy [1 post] 2 years ago
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I have some Pearl Izumi WXB - nice and lightweight with a velcro fastener, which I love. But I ripped them and they're no longer made, nor can I find any others with velcro instead of a zip. Do they exist?

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TLem [2 posts] 2 years ago
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stwjimmy wrote:

I have some Pearl Izumi WXB - nice and lightweight with a velcro fastener, which I love. But I ripped them and they're no longer made, nor can I find any others with velcro instead of a zip. Do they exist?

Check out Endura's overshoes. I have the Luminite II model with velcro fasteners and am quite happy with them.

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Johnnystorm [112 posts] 2 years ago
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stwjimmy wrote:

I have some Pearl Izumi WXB - nice and lightweight with a velcro fastener, which I love. But I ripped them and they're no longer made, nor can I find any others with velcro instead of a zip. Do they exist?

PX neoprene are all Velcro and ok for a tenner. Altura night vision are also all Velcro and have a nice wipe clean finish and are a lot thinner material than the thick neoprene type.

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BigRich [3 posts] 2 years ago
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Finding ones to fit  EU48.......

 

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offshore_dave [65 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes?
I find that it helps stop water ingress.

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BarryBianchi [418 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes
offshore_dave wrote:

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes?

Pretty much, yes.

The Bontrager ones with the fleecey linings are brilliant - if you get cold feet with those on, it really is too cold to be out on a bike.

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Freddy56 [446 posts] 2 years ago
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BigRich wrote:

Finding ones to fit  EU48.......

 

Galibier have an XXL in their aquaChrono  which fit my 49s at a stretch, so be spot on for 48

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offshore_dave [65 posts] 2 years ago
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BarryBianchi wrote:
offshore_dave wrote:

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes?

Pretty much, yes.

The Bontrager ones with the fleecey linings are brilliant - if you get cold feet with those on, it really is too cold to be out on a bike.

 

I didn't mean for warmth but for water ingress.

I will check out the Bontrager ones as cold feet are an issue, even when dry.

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Reedo [46 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

What tights can I get to wear over the overshoes that will keep rain from running down into the overshoes?

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Chris Hayes [467 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes

How come no one has combined the velotoze interface with the shin with a neoprene overshoe?   The biggest issue with all of these is water soaking through tights or spraying down the top of these overshoes.  

I have some Northwave winter boots, gore-tex lined, which are lovely and warm - BUT water gets in the top, can't get out through the goretex and then you're cycling in your very own puddle. 

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Shugg McGraw [30 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes

I bought a pair of Velotoze but after putting them on I was too tired to go for a ride. 

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dmack [56 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes
offshore_dave wrote:

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes?
I find that it helps stop water ingress.

Makes sense to me!

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JeffB [11 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Chris Hayes wrote:

How come no one has combined the velotoze interface with the shin with a neoprene overshoe?   The biggest issue with all of these is water soaking through tights or spraying down the top of these overshoes.  

I have some Northwave winter boots, gore-tex lined, which are lovely and warm - BUT water gets in the top, can't get out through the goretex and then you're cycling in your very own puddle. 

Cut the wrist off washing up gloves and wear that as a seal from top of cycling boot to shin. You still have glove for washing up.
Or, buy the Velotoez and use until they rip, ( the first ride?), and cut/ use the ankle part on boots

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PaulosUk [1 post] 1 year ago
1 like

I bought the Velotoze on a reccomendation. Ripped the first one putting it on.

Will have a look for some neoprene ones next!

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pastyfacepaddy [59 posts] 1 year ago
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Reedo wrote:

What tights can I get to wear over the overshoes that will keep rain from running down into the overshoes?

I've got the Sportful Fiandre Extreme Bibtights.Not waterproof but with two layers of Sportful's 'No Rain' material on the areas that get most spray i.e. front of the calves, thighs and arse they are about as water-resistant as I've found. With zips on the ankle it also makes it easier to put them over the overshoes.

The double layers do make them warm though so not for summer downpours.  1

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pastyfacepaddy [59 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
offshore_dave wrote:

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes? I find that it helps stop water ingress.

 

Nope. I do the same. What's the point of buying overshoes to keep your feet dry and then putting them over bibtights that allow the water to run inside them and your shoes?

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shutuplegz [85 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
pastyfacepaddy wrote:
offshore_dave wrote:

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes? I find that it helps stop water ingress.

 

Nope. I do the same. What's the point of buying overshoes to keep your feet dry and then putting them over bibtights that allow the water to run inside them and your shoes?

 

Agree. In wet weather I always wear the tights over the overshoes (and make sure that socks are fully contained inside the overshoes, not poking out of the top!) which further delays the gradual seeping down into the shoes! This will happen eventually whichever way you do it but putting tights inside overshoes is guaranteed to speed the process up! If it is just cold, or muddy roads, I will put overshoes on the outside, only because the velcro closure can be a bit uncomfortable against the back of my leg, but not as uncomfortable as soaking, cold feet!

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tugglesthegreat [130 posts] 1 year ago
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Freddy56 wrote:

........Endura's MT500 for CX or mtb. The Endura have the same rubber sole as the BB ones pictured but for £20 less and are bomb proof.

You must be right trying to find these in XL but seem to be out of stock.  2

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tomi740i [11 posts] 2 months ago
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Who ever has tried to put a pair of Velotoze on, won't recommend it only for his enemies.

Your feet will swim in moisiture, and your hands and back will crack while puting on or escaping from them.  An unergonomic piece of butyl........  2

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Notbuilt2climb [15 posts] 2 months ago
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Can anybody recommend or suggest waterproof overshoes for my mighty size 13 feet that won't need a second mortgage. You'd think that with feet the size of canoes, I could walk on water but it doesn't keep the water out when out on the road.

I'm road cycling with Lake CX217 shoes in a EU50. I've got a pair of Altura neoprene overshoes size eu49 but they are incredibly tight and I'm not sure how long they will last at full stretch.

Just finding it hard to search based on size available, so if there is anyone with a similar experience who can help, please shout out.

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maviczap [398 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
Notbuilt2climb wrote:

Can anybody recommend or suggest waterproof overshoes for my mighty size 13 feet that won't need a second mortgage. You'd think that with feet the size of canoes, I could walk on water but it doesn't keep the water out when out on the road.

I'm road cycling with Lake CX217 shoes in a EU50. I've got a pair of Altura neoprene overshoes size eu49 but they are incredibly tight and I'm not sure how long they will last at full stretch.

Just finding it hard to search based on size available, so if there is anyone with a similar experience who can help, please shout out.

I can't help with your quest for an overshoe of that size, but what about waterproof socks?

Sealskinz socks are waterproof, I use them in my MTB shoes when riding off road. Use a thin liner sock between skin and sock, because they feel weird otherwise

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Pilot Pete [293 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I know this is a recycled article and many of the comments are at least a year old, but there is a theme here: getting wet, cold feet despite wearing bib tights, thermal socks, overshoes, goretex lined shoes or even boots. 

I have had the same and worked my way through many different combinations seeking that holy grail of winter foot clobber for on the bike. Let’s just run through some of the issues and then I will venture to offer what I have found to be the ONLY solution that has worked for me for rides longer than a couple of hours.

A dry winter ride is fairly straightforward and a good thermal sock with a shoe/ boot without too many vents coupled with an overshoe will see you through any distance.

The mission gets significantly trickier if rain or wet roads are anticipated. You have to try to keep the water out if you want to stay warmer for longer.

Summer style shoes  with vents are a bad starting place as they are just asking for water ingress. Cover them in any overshoe and they will only keep the water out for a shortish time because the bottom of the shoe is pretty open to the elements due to the required overshoe openings for cleats and heel pads. Even with a full set of mudguards your feet can get spray from the front wheel as they pass through 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock of the pedal stroke, particularly when riding through puddles.

So, a better solution is a dedicated winter shoe/ boot with no vents. Getting one that is goretex lined and with some thermal properties is even better.

Now you have a better starting point from the choice of footwear, but you still have the issue of trying to prevent water ingress. You pair them with your choice of overshoes and thermal socks, which are great because they come half way (or higher) up your shin and give the added benefit of keeping your lower leg warm too. Put your bibs/ leg warmers on and you waddle out to your bike with a sweat on already from your 20 minute dressing session in a centrally heated house! 

However, for every problem you have solved you have introduced another. Sure, this combo will keep your feet drier for longer, but how much longer? The old sages that I ride with (some into their seventies!) all say you can’t keep the rain/ water out for more than an hour and a half. There is some truth to this, but they are not making the most of developments in design and what is available on the market. They all use the combo just mentioned.

What happens is the water splashes straight over the top of the lovely goretex lined winter boot/ overshoe and runs straight down inside. Your socks get wet and slowly but surely your whole foot gets wet and starts to get colder. Depending on rainfall/ amount of standing water, that takes about an hour and a half. Funny old thing eh?

So a possible solution. Put your bib tights/ leg warmers over your overshoes or wear a pair of dedicated neoprene cuffs which stretch over the top of the boot to seal the opening. The bibs over the boots is only going to help a little as they are not water proof and thus the water will get through them. I’ve tried Grip Grab ankle/boot cuffs and they are quite good. The only problem is, if you have the cuff over the boot top and against your thermal sock and or leg warmer/ bib tight water will get through your bibs and into the top of your sock, then capillary action will draw the water down your sock and into the boot. Your feet get wet and cold again. This will give you another hour or so before you get wet feet.

A possible combo that would prevent that is to wear the boot gaiters and have them directly against your skin and then over the boot tops. This will make a better seal, especially if you are a ‘shaver’. To do this you will need shorter socks however that do not protrude above your boot tops. If you put your bibs/ warmers outside your boots, as long as they don’t ride up too much you could be better off and keep the water out for longer.

I discovered Spatz overshoes last winter and they are a revelation. I could ride for 6hrs+ in rain and/ standing water and kept warm and dry feet. They are superb. The difference is they are an overshoe that reaches 2/3 of the way up your lower leg. 

Getting dressed for a ride is even more of a faff, but the effort is worth it. This is how I do it;

1. Put your long thermal socks on (I use walking socks which have a thicker sole and reach mid calf). The important thing is that the tops of the socks come below the top of the Spatz.

2. Put your bibs/ leg warmer on and roll them up your leg. I don’t wear bib tights, I wear thermal shorts with leg warmers. They need to be rolled up to virtually your knee.

3. Put the Spatz on and get the tops about the right height up your shin and then roll up bottoms to above your boot height.

4. Put your boot on and adjust the tightness of the retention system.

5. Roll the Spatz back down over your boots and position them correctly. Fine tune the tops of the Spatz so they are wrinkle free and so that your sock is not bunched at all underneath them. Ensure the sock top does not protrude above the top of the Spatz.

6. Now roll the leg of your bibs/ warmers down over the top of your Spatz.

And hey presto, you have the best solution on the market for keeping your feet dry and warm for many hours riding in the rain. I did several wet rides last winter of 6+hrs duration and my feet stayed dry. I am most definitely a convert.

I would point out I have no connection with Spatz or the owners, I’m simply a happy customer who believes a great product should get a great endorsement.

PP

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daturaman [49 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Pilot Pete wrote:

I would point out I have no connection with Spatz or the owners, I’m simply a happy customer who believes a great product should get a great endorsement.

PP

How have you found their durability so far? A couple of people have commented about them being susceptible to abrasion, tearing etc, after a few rides.