The Fission Bib Knicker from Hincapie is the perfect pair of riding shorts for cool spring and fall weather, or even as a base layer during mid-winter. While I had gotten along just fine riding in cold weather without the Fission, adding this garment to my wardrobe has radically simplified the process of getting out the door when the temps are chilly
The Fission Bib Knicker sports a 3/4 length leg, which at first I thought would be too short and would allow cold air to ravage my skin. However, I found this leg length to be perfect with a pair of fat bike boots like the 45NRTH Wolvhammers, and the Wolvhammers covered everything below where the Knickers ended. Even when using the Knickers with a standard mountain bike shoe, and even without a pair of pants over the top, a tall, thermal sock actually would mesh perfectly with the rubberized lower cuff, leaving no exposed skin. While I was hesitant at first, it turned out that my reservations at the style were unfounded.
The bib design helped keep the Knicker in place. Compared to a summer bib, the Fission’s upper offers much more coverage, essentially covering the majority of the torso. Check out the photo of this dude who is way more comfortable standing around mostly naked than I am:
This increased coverage provided extra warmth over the majority of my body, which was perfect for the intended cold-weather application.
As for the standard short features, I found the 4-way stretch Hincapie Team Chamois to be comfortable and functional, the gel-grippers on the legs to be strong and capable of holding up the afore-mentioned tall socks, and the panelled design to provide plenty of flexion.
The other major feature that sets the Fission apart from a summer short is the winter weight fleece lining. While significantly thicker than a summer short, once the Knickers are on, it’s hard to understand how the small amount of extra thermal insulation will do much to keep your body heat in… but it does. The thermal material holds heat in while wicking moisture away, while at the same time blocking wind if used as your one and only layer. While the side hip panels are a bit less insulated, all of the forward-facing panels have plenty of wind blocking properties, even when going fast on the road bike.
So exactly how warm is the Fission? It’s so effective that I’ve used the Fission as my only lower layer on fast dirt road rides with temps in the lower 40s and high 30s, and I was still completely comfortable. Indeed, on one such ride the sky proceeded to snow, and hail, and attempt to blow me over, but the Fission kept me warm and comfortable.
I’ve also used the Knickers as a base layer below the Fat Jack fat biking pant from Club Ride for truly cold-weather fat bike rides. I found that on most of my fat bike rides in the low to mid 20s, that simply using the Fission and the Fat Jack was plenty of insulation. However, as temps drop further, it’s simple to add one or more base layers between the Fission and the Fat Jack for added insulation.
As for complaints? I have none about the performance or the construction of the Fission—it’s been flawless even after months of riding. The only possible complaint that I can give is that the high rise of the front of the bib makes impromptu trailside rest stops a real chore. But again, that high rise provides plenty of extra warmth—which is much-appreciated when you don’t have to pee.
In short, the Fission is the ideal lower layer for riding in cool summer and fall temps if used on its own, or even as a base layer in the dead of winter when paired with a thicker outer pant.
Thanks to Hincapie for providing the Fission Bib Knicker for review.