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MD Product Review: LDComfort Dryline Longsleeve Turtleneck Top

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Helimot’s  Helmut Kluckner knows riding gear, but his shop, right outside Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, is best known for outfitting club and professional roadracers. But Helmut is an enthusiastic tourer as well as aficionado of specialized riding apparel and gear, so when I stop to chat with him, I usually learn about an interesting new product. In this case, it sounded too good to be true—a cooling shirt that kept you comfortable in triple-digit temperatures that didn’t need a mesh jacket, and therefore would keep its cool longer than a wet t-shirt or traditional cooling vests.

The LDComfort mock turtleneck cooling shirt is what he told me about. He said he used it on an extended ride, in triple-digit temperatures, under an unvented jacket and was so cool he was practically shivering (or as Austrian-born Helmut would say, “chivverink.”). Really? He loaned me one to try out.

That was over a year ago, but what can I say? I don’t ride in the heat that much, and when I do, I just put up with it. But I felt guilty for not testing the thick, stretchy shirt, so I packed it in my luggage to wear while riding a Yamaha Super Tenere from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area. Said ride included about 100 miles of lane-splitting So-Cal traffic in 90-100 degree temperatures, usually a reliable recipe for misery. Needless to say, I left the hard luggage at Yamaha’s warehouse so I could lane split even faster.

The usage instructions on the LDComfort website sound counter-intuitive to someone who’s used evaporative cooling for years. “Wet the LDComfort long sleeve shirt; (especially the sleeves) close all vents in the outer jacket; open the sleeves of the jacket at the cuffs; put arm out in the air stream and funnel air up the sleeve and into the jacket; fill the jacket with cold air and ride in comfort. Repeat as needed.” Wha? That sounds crazy! What about mesh? Don’t use it, LD says—it lets out the cold air.

In use, it’s impressive. Follow the instructions, and if you do you’ll be rewarded with what feels like air conditioning blasting up your arms (unzip the sleeves of your leather jacket or textile gear and wear shorty gloves with no gauntlets to facilitate airflow) as long as your LD’s sleeves are damp. It even cools (a little) with dry sleeves, and don’t ask me how that works. I didn’t feel damp or clammy under the moistened fabric, and I was impressed with how long it maintained the cooling effect. Note that we are blessed with a dry climate out west—I’m not sure this will work in humid places. My advice is to move.

The LDComfort top made a very long afternoon tolerable, well worth the $54 this shirt costs for just that ride. My only real complaint, other than it looking fuddy-duddy (who wears mock turtlenecks, anyway?) was that water wicked into my jeans and undershorts under my Aerostich, making me ride with a wet crotch after the sun went down, when it grew uncomfortably cool along the California coast.

An even more intriguing product is the Comfort Cool Sleeves ($28). They’re like the top, but you just get sleeves! The use instruction tells you to wet them while wearing them under your jacket—they’ll soak up the water, allowing you to keep your cool on the go. “Effective for temperatures up to 120 degrees” chirp the instructions. Maybe so, but I’ll be at the bar sipping a cold margarita.

I’ve only used my shirt once, but it’s a quality, made-in-USA product I’ll use again and again. It’s a good base layer in cold weather and the best solution I’ve yet found for hot-weather riding.

14 Comments

  1. vince says:

    Gabe: your comment ‘My only real complaint, …, was that water wicked into my jeans and undershorts under my Aerostich, making me ride with a wet crotch after the sun went down, when it grew uncomfortably cool along the California coast’, could be addressed maybe by not soaking the shirt too much. I went to the LD Comfort website and watched a video for their sleeves. The claim is the cooling effect works even when the product isn’t completely soaked; soaked lightly enough so that the outside of the garment is damp but the inside of the garment that touches the skin is actually dry. Thanks for introducing us to a promising product made in North America

  2. Brian says:

    Seem’s a good solution for dry areas, even with the damp crotch issue. For those looking for a more complete solution to keeping comfortable on your bike in hot weather, particularly hot and humid weather – and heating when it’s cold – see the EntroSys system for sale at http://www.bikeairusa.com

    Gabe – Glad to send you a system for demo ride – product review.

  3. azi says:

    Gabe how did it go in heavy stop-start traffic? I can see how this works when you’re moving; but the evaporative cooling would stop when you’re stopped, with the full jacket keeping the heat in?

    • Gabe says:

      Well, that’s why I lane split and support the AMA and other organizations working to keep it legal and to spread it to other states. But when I was stopped, it was no less comfortable than wearing regular clothes.

  4. Norm G. says:

    re: “My only real complaint, other than it looking fuddy-duddy”

    Q: “who wears mock turtlenecks, anyway?”

    A: Dieter on Sprockets…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHZR9SA5pOg

  5. stinkywheels says:

    I want to go to his shop. I’m afraid I’d leave with my card maxed out and having to do vile, distasteful things to get home. I don’t get to ride in heat often, but the concepts sound promising, like most insane things.

  6. Larry says:

    The style of the shirt is important, the turtleneck and the long sleeves would maximize the skin area covered and the evaporation area. My question is how does the 3rd picture work to “let air escape by the front zipper only”? This seems counter-intuitive based on airflow around a rider.

  7. Gman says:

    I recommend American made Wickers shirts for the same purpose. They come in a number of styles and cost about 1/2 of the LD shirt.

  8. Buzz says:

    Buy these things or I will speak in a stern voice and pretend to punch you!

  9. jozimoto says:

    I question the ability of this garment to function in a hot humid climate like Florida. When there is high humidity the evaporative cooling effect just doesn’t work. The air cannot hold much more moisture. In a dry low humidity climate these things work great.

    • goose says:

      You have a good understanding of the situation. Where I am in California right now it is 104 degrees but the RH is 29%. Pour some water on your tee shirt (or jump in the river) and you’ll be cool and comfy. Believe it or not it isn’t that uncomfortable relaxing in the shade, sweating keeps you fairly cool. These product would also work.

      Try them in August south of the Mason-Dixon line and you will get a little wetter than you already were but not much cooler.

      Goose

    • Gabe says:

      “Note that we are blessed with a dry climate out west—I’m not sure this will work in humid places. My advice is to move.”

      • goose says:

        Hush Gabe. We have enough people here in California. Let ‘em sweat where they are.

        • mickey says:

          Just got back from out there. Bucket list ride thing you know. Wanted to dip my toe in the Pacific and ride PCH. Mission accomplished. As far as temp and humidity goes it was stinking hot once you got away from the coast. Getting caught in traffic between Santa Cruz and Sacramento.was brutal. I can see why riders lane split but having never done it before and being on a loaded dresser I was not comfortable with the process so just sat there and baked. Not moving..no air..no cooling off. The low rh made my mouth dry and dried out my lips. Luckily I had taken lip balm. Btw I used an athletic shirt drenched in water and a mesh jacket which worked great for cooling as long as you were moving. When stopped in traffic I felt like steamed broccoli. No worries about this midwest boy moving there anytime soon.

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