Put to the Test: Can K1 Tempo Support me on my Sweatiest Pursuits?
It’s time for my first ride in the new K1 Tempo supportive tights. Key fob and twenty bucks in the hip pocket and I’m good to go.
Be bold, start cold, said someone, once. Whether running, hiking, skiing, or biking, it’s advice I like to follow, since my engine runs warm. As I start up the climbing trail I immediately love the way the pants keep my large muscles warm but are vented in those areas where we produce the most sweat. Weighing in 60% lighter than just one regular knee brace, yet supporting both knees and allowing for independent adjustability, I’m hoping I can use the Tempos from the get-go, and pretty much forget I’m wearing them.
Like skiing and running, biking asks for a large range of motion in our knee and hip joints, and as we all know, they’re tiring endurance sports. One of my biggest pet peeves is burning energy to overcome the resistance or weight of our own equipment (those old-school backpacks that weighed about 10 pounds when empty!). Are the Tempos going to create resistance that my muscles have to overcome, or will they stretch and move with my body? Long alpine rides are my ‘thing’; I don’t want gear that adds to fatigue and hampers my day.
Climbing, I’m leaving the cables on their slackest settings: No noticeable resistance. As hoped, I can pretty much forget I’m wearing the Tempos and focus on the fun stuff, the technical rock steps, the tight switch-backing turns, hopping over deadfall, and dodging stumps. Enjoying the satisfaction of climbing as fast as I can and feeling my body engaged, working well.
And what about the payback? I know my regular K1s work well for skiing: slack for skinning, cranked for downhill; but how will the Tempos feel, riding fast flowy singletrack and dark, steep forest trails where we’ll be hitting technical trail features, drops, and rough terrain. This part of the ride demands freedom of movement, yet also asks us to resist large forces. Will the pants allow me to move freely yet support the knee joints and reduce lower back loads in high-impact moments? And most importantly of all, after an 8-hour ride, will I be able to get up tomorrow and do it all again?
I crank the dials to their maximum on each leg and go through a few semi-squats to help regulate the cable tension evenly over their whole lengths. The sensation of the cables cinching up around the knee is unusual but not unpleasant. It’s possible to feel the cables gently compressing the area around the knee, much as it feels when we wear a regular sleeve-type knee support. Even fully cranked, while I feel support laterally across the knee, I still retain my full range of fore/aft movement in the joint.
And riding? Well, I’ll be honest; my attention was more on the trail than the tights, so we’ll have to settle for one of those body checks that us middle-aged guys like to do after strenuous work or exercise... Certainly, the burning, cramping sensation in my lower back was far less noticeable than usual, and my knees, which normally ache and burn after prolonged vibration and load have a lot less to say. I’m looking forward to running and hiking in the Tempos; all the support of the regular K1s, but lighter and cooler.
And the big question: Are the Tempos going to decrease exercise-related pain to a point where I can hop out of bed and do it all again day, after day, after day? You bet they do. Bring on tomorrow!