Hello and welcome to the first edition of our Monthly Product Pick where we pick out our favourite piece of kit for the month.
This month, with all the snow we've had, we thought we'd stick with the cold weather theme and have chosen to kick things off with these - the SPATZ 'Legalz 2' UCI Legal Race Overshoes with Kevlar toe area.
Winter riding is essential in helping you gain fitness and strength, so come the summer, you're not 'that guy' hanging on for dear life at the back of the pack and instead, you're the one dishing out the dirt (if that's your kinda thing). We call this 'the Hammer and Nail' and believe me, its much more fun being the Hammer.
Over the years, many have traded the cold and wet winter rides for virtual miles on indoor trainers and while we're big fans of turbos and Zwift, nothing replaces the joy of riding in the great outdoors.
"The key to winter riding is good kit - to defend and protect yourself from the challenging elements faced while out on the bike."
Towards the backend of last year I came across the brand Spatz and was quickly made aware of their mission by their catch phrase 'Its raining. You're training'. Simply put - these guys have designed kit that enables you to ride and train in the worst winter conditions and remain clean, dry and most importantly - comfortable.
The Legalz 2 from SPATZ are the shortest in the range (excluding their slide-on toe covers, available in neoprene and silicon flavours) and do not offer the fleece lining found in the Roadman 2, Pro 2 and Gravlr. Despite this though, I have found them to offer warmth and protection better than any brand of overshoes I have previously used (Endura, Sportful, BBB etc). I have used these in conditions ranging from -2C to of 5C+ and for durations of up to 5 hours and they have performed flawlessly.
These have primarily been used while on the road bike (fitted over Rapha Classic shoes) but impressed me the most when riding the gravel bike over 'The Chase' and through the snow covered trails (fitted over Giro VR90 shoes). Despite the sub-zero temperatures, my feet were warm and dry at all times. Those of you who have experienced cold feet on long, cold and wet rides understand the value of being able to keep your feet warm. It becomes very easy to persuade yourself to take the short-route home when you are cold and uncomfortable, and that is not going to strengthen your 'Hammer'.
The Kevlar reinforced heel and toe areas are abrasion resistant to protect against nicks and tears while the cleat opening is perfectly suited for all road cleats with a strong-holding Velcro tab securing just behind. If fitting over MTB/off-road shoes where the (2 bolt) cleat are often recessed and surrounded by a rubber tread, take care to ensure the perimeter of the cleat and heel opening is positioned away from the shoe tread so you do not risk standing on the overshoe, increasing the chance of tearing. I found this easy, as the overshoes are a tight fit and lined with grippers to keep them securely in place.
Fitting and removing is relatively easy and became quicker over time as I became more confident of their strength and robustness. As per their video in the 'FAQ' section on the Spatz website, you need to fit these prior to putting on your shoes. Imagine you are putting on a second pair of socks - its exactly the same motion to fit the overshoes. I've found folding the shin cuff down to half its length gives more material to pull on and reduces the risk of creating pulls in the material. Then simply roll up the shin to it's full length, pull the front back over your toes and up your ankle so you can now put on your shoe. Once your shoes are fitted, stretch the overshoe back over your toe and position around the heel before finally fastening the Velcro strap.
To remove, simply reverse the above steps for fitting.
During the 250 miles ridden throughout December and January the Spatz Legalz 2 have done their job perfectly and I wouldn't now revert back to any other brand. The team at Spatz have worked hard to develop kit that is genuinely innovative and well thought through and it shows in all of their products. These retail at £59.99 and are the perfect example of the 'buy nice or buy twice' saying.
Not much deters you from riding further in tough winter conditions than cold hands and feet. Thankfully, Spatz provide guaranteed protection at both ends (and actually, some revolutionary base layers too that are worth checking out).
Once a cold winter rider, now a warm one.