To accompany its Summer Light arm warmers/compression sleeves tested here, X-Bionic has created counterpart Summerlight leg warmers (but in only one word). Again, lots of technology, but the high price tag remains, and despite the name they're better suited to autumn and spring rides when you actually want to cover up your limbs.
As with the arm warmers, innovation levels are high. X-Bionic uses expansion ribs at the knee for freedom of movement, and a completely seamless construction, as well as tailoring for the anatomical needs of your legs. You'll also find a specially knitted area behind the knee for maximum ventilation, a continuation of the air circulation system, and partial compression technology designed to maximise the efficiency of your legs.
What's all this for? The idea, according to X-Bionic, is that they are designed to be compressive (alongside the traditional cycling arm and leg 'warmer' use), which science says should improve circulation and therefore muscle performance. It might sound like marketing spiel, but as with the arm warmers, I can feel it working – certainly, with my legs are wrapped in a cocoon my muscles felt more energised.
Like the arm warmers, these are made of a series of fine yarns, but the make-up has altered slightly to 83% polyamide, 10% elastane and 7% polypropylene in order to accommodate the greater surface area of the legs. Wicking performance is largely the same – the fabric transfers away sweat very effectively, and possesses the same soft merino-like qualities.
Although they share the same Summerlight name as the arm warmers (except in two words rather than one), while the arm warmers could work throughout spring and autumn, I have reservations that the leg warmers are as useful on milder days. Because your legs are the working muscles, they generate more heat than your arms, and as soon as the weather warmed up to the mid-teens I began sweating more than I'd like. The fabric works really well to wick this away, but I can't help feeling their window of usability is smaller. Despite the name, and the admittedly excellent heat transfer, they're more limited to early spring and late autumn rides.
They share the same bold design as the arm warmers, perhaps even more pronounced considering the larger proportion of your body they cover. We remain split in the office over whether we like them or not – but they certainly turn heads on the local club ride.
As with the arm warmers, these are on the expensive side. You can pay similar with other premium brands out there, though, and these do work to keep your muscles functioning efficiently and reduce fatigue over longer rides, so they're not without their purpose or benefits. If you're looking for the last word in performance, these might well be for you.
Overall, they're a good set of leg warmers, with the benefits of focused compression – but be sure they'll do exactly what you need.
A nice pair of compression legs/leg warmers – but their operating range and purpose is limited
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Make and model: X-Bionic Summerlight Leg Warmer
Size tested: L/XL, Summerlight, Black/Anthracite
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
X-Bionic says: "Thanks to the use of extremely fine yarns, you can even take advantage of the benefits of X-Impact Technology™, Partial Kompression und ExpansionRibs™ on warmer days. Arm and leg warmers in the Light line also offer effective sun protection."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The accordion principle behind the ExpansionKnee improves its insulating character rather than losing it when the knee is bent. A highly flexible system of chambers and channels provide insulation by storing warm air inside.
The knee hollow perspires quickly and heavily. A fine, circular knitted fabric has been incorporated there. Perspiration dissipates and is pushed outward with the aid of body warmth without the risk of chilling.
X-BIONIC® Partial Kompression
A new benchmark in compression technology. Partial Kompression by X-BIONIC® utilises the advantages of compression without neglecting cooling.
Seamless knit construction
The seamless knit construction enables the combination of intricate detail and function in the surface construction without the risk of skin irritation.
The Air-Conditioning Channel® is a ventilation system of channels that flow around the body, continuously carrying away moisture and warmth. It allows air to flow to body regions not normally accessible by fresh air circulation.
The wide active drawstring fits to every leg size without slipping or constricting.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On the compression front, very well. Unfortunately, covering your legs on mild days means you're likely to overheat, even though the product is designed for use in the summer.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good anatomical zoning gives a positive feeling of compression.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The cost, and the way you can easily overheat in them.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, largely – in temperatures up to the mid teens.
Would you consider buying the product? Only for use in the early spring and late autumn – and even then I'd need to think twice about the cost-benefit balance.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only if they were looking to experiment in finding the last word in performance gains.
Age: 25 Height: 188cm Weight: 83kg
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,