Kmeleon is a new company that designs and manufactures compression athletic apparel in Montreal. They sent Cyclocosm a pair of their shorts and tights for testing and reveiw. Here’s how things shook out:
Style: 3. While not the most exciting look in the world, there’s something to be said for a plain pair of black shorts, especially ones without garish stitched seams and with a beautifully understated logo. Plus the compression material tends to give legs a nice shape.
Fit: 3. Even for bike shorts, they’re tight. But as I mentioned earlier, your less-toned areas tend to get shaped and stay put, rather then get mushed out and jiggle. A few beefs, though: the hemline of the short isn’t raised in the back, leading the unsightly lower back gap between short and jersey, and the knees of the tights aren’t articulated enough to comfortable accommodate the knee angle at the top of the pedal stroke.
Features: 4. I’ve always been skeptical about the benefits of compression garments, but there’s a clear and immediate difference between these and a standard pair of bike shorts. Kind of like a gentle pressure keeping everything lined up. It also really seems to reduce the jelly-legged sensation you tend to get at the end of a long, exhausting ride. Add to that the fact that these things wick better than any other short I’ve ever worn, and you’ve a pretty serious technical garment.
Comfort: 2. There is no chamois. Let me say that again: there is no chamois. That’s a huge issue. There is a soft, breathable, and flexible gusset between the legs, but it just doesn’t provide the cushion and friction reduction you need for plus rides. Maybe your backside is tougher than mine, maybe you stand up a lot, but for most, consensus is you’ve gotta have something down there.
Durability: 4. I haven’t put in the time I’d like to in these garments, but after a few months of commuting with the tights (and one rough tumble at the corner of Adams and Medford), there’s no fraying, scuffing, unravelling, or loss of elasticity. Plus their specially-treated fibers don’t pick up the stench most wicking garments gather after a few wears.
Final Thoughts: It’s really a shame about the chamois thing, because these garments perform fantastically, and the other glitches (non-articulated knees, low waistline in the back) are minor. But Kmeleon has assured me they’re developing a bike short with a fat 3mm of chamois to keep you cozy for long hours in the saddle. So as it stands, the shorts / tights are great for commuting, short mountain rides with lots of standing, or multi-sport use, but a definite miss for the high-milage guys.