Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Elite Ozone 03 Thermogel Forte - Intensive Warming

Elite has been making embrocations for many years, but this spring will be my first go with this hugely Euro company. Elite is one of the top sponsors of PRO teams, which of course makes it ideal for someone who is obsessed with the PRO style.

Today's conditions: Overcast, mild, rain showers developing, 4º C, wind at 25 kph, knee warmers as first layer of protection.

The Ozone product comes in various styles to suit almost any pre- or post-race need, from hair removal to post-ride massage. I believe they also make a car wax, but I have calls into some peeps to confirm. Thermogel Forte comes in a flip-top container making application easy and clean. The product is cloudy in color and has a thin, watery feel to it. The smell is amazing, and will remind you of any pre-race parking lot. Thermogel goes on easily and rubs in leaving a medium "almost too Euro for you" look. Pair this medium sheen with a subtle pair of Oakley M Frames and you have achieved the "sleeper" look: someone who is low-key, yet provides the group with cause for growing concerns.

What's most impressive about this Belgium knee warmer is the fact that once applied it disappears from your consciousness, leaving only a hint of shine, until the cold or wet arrives. On this particular day, the rain and cold settled in during the middle of the ride, and as the temps dropped and the rain fell, I could feel the embro punching in for its day at the office. With the rain raging full-on, we rode another 1 1/2 hours and, although I could feel neither my fingers nor my toes, my lower legs felt great!

Once home and into a warm shower, the Ozone gave me one last reminder that it was on the job. However, washed off with mild soap and a bit of elbow grease unlike the Qoleum Hot that required a wire brush and some paint thinner.

Like all great gear, the Ozone Thermogel only made itself known when it was called into action and, in my opinion, this is the mark of a great product. Like everything I feature in BKW, I paid for this product out of my own pocket, so I have no reason to sugarcoat a product that is not worthy.

If you're looking for a great embrocation for the early spring or late summer/early fall, this could be it.

Overall Heat Rating - mild to warm
Euro Style Rating - Medium, a light sheen
Smell - Medicinal, PRO as hell, and keeps on stinking even 2 hours into your ride
Durability - Extremely high, three hours total, two in the rain with no fenders and the Ozone kept things comfy.

The Thermogel will be my go-to embro until the sign-in temps reach the 18º C mark. At that point, I will move to a higher temp embro like cajaputi, which works well in the higher temps and helps acheive the insane PRO style. The month of May should provide pleasant enough temps for me to ditch the knee warmers and let my embrocation provide all the protection. If the Thermogel delivers at the knee level as well as it does on my calves, we are PROGRAM GO!


josh said...

ive actaully been using this stuff and agree with your review. you don't notice it untill it is needed, it smells pro as hell, and it lasts....i had it on for a 4 hour ride, then 2 hours before I got in a shower, and it was still working.

i would however classify the sheen as low though, maybe mine is different or i am doing something wrong, but it isnt glossy at all. a very mild/slight sheen (or maybe i have normally shiny legs) but my moisturizer (nivea) gives me a getter sheen than the elite stuff could be bacuse i am poor and this stuff is expensive and i always use as little as possible...wheras moisturizer is cheap and i load it on.

APBIORoswell said...


If you get a chance, compare this to Cramer's Atomic Balm which is very cheap, can be bought by the tub and is very warming (but not very PRO)

Later--Fellow HUPster

Radio Freddy said...

Josh - I think the actual sheen may vary, although this was not noted on the Elite bottle. I shake well before application and apply in thick form. The moisturizer always serves as the base coat. A primer if you will.

Bob - I have not tried the Atomic Balm however, there is a warning posted on the site you mentioned cautioning the user to follow the directions closely. That is a good start! I will have to give it a go at some point. I think the warmer weather of spring/summer will force a test in the fall. Thanks for the head's up! Hup! Hup!

josh said...

i totally did not know about using moisturizer as a base coat, but that makes sense. i tend to use it as a post-ride, i dont want my legs to get wierd way....however it may become part of my pre ride ritual (ill have to try it out). using more prbly would work as well

also a fellow hupster

APBIORoswell said...

There is an Atomic Balm warm up gel and the regular lanolin based linament (think Bag Balm consistancy)--both have worked very well for me. They also sell adhesive patches with the stuff already on them like you see on the knees of some Euro pros in races. So I guess that could be a little PRO.

Shorts, then embrocation!

Ari said...

Sounds good for a try. Where is the magic juice available?

Anonymous said...

do bugs stick to your legs like with freddys choice?

or maybe I just slather too much on

(it looks sexy as hell though.)

Radio Freddy said...

No! That is one of the great aspects of the Elite; I should have mentioned it. The Freddy's is like fly paper in comparison.

Unknown said...

Sweet! I've alwasy wondered about other brands. I've only used Sportsbalm, and I swear my flesh is curling...but only in certain spots on my legs. I have pretty sensitive skin, but Embro is the way to go. Hands down.

It's hard to find the Sportsbalm products local in CO, but Elite is here. I'll give this a try!

Anonymous said...

I know embrocation (and its smell) are super PRO, but check out this opinion from Dr. Dawn M. Richardson, MD, FACEP in the Velonews "Ask A Doctor" column:

"Second and even stupider in my opinion are vasodilating balms in a misguided effort to keep bare legs warm when underdressed. By using heat balms you are dilating the blood vessels, thus losing more core temperature. The physiological response to cold exposure is restricting blood flow to the skin and extremities to preserve core temperature. Heat balms to bare cold legs do the opposite and further threaten core temperature. Cold hands and feet and rapidly worsening brain function means you are underdressed, not that you should slap on more wintergreen and capzasin oil and accelerate core hypothermia. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Hypothermia doesn't make you manly and it sure as heck won't win a race."

Radio Freddy said...

Fannypack - This article you mentioned is one of the greatest I have ever read in VN. One because it focuses on embros, two because it references the CONI manual (which is one of my favorite reads) and C becuase it was refreshing to hear an MD's perspective on the art of embro. As I mention in the "Code of the Road" piece from April 2nd, a true PRO will always cover the knees in temps below 21 degrees C - except on race day of course. Like the good doc said, keep those knees covered when it is cool or wet and they will thank you. However, it is also important to note, that PR or Flanders would just not be the same if everyone wore knee/leg warmers. That is what Paris-Nice is for.

Anonymous said...

If something is done with the intention of being more PRO, then I'm all for it. Nice response, Freddy. You're alright.

josh said...

question for radiofreddy

if a true PRO will keep the knees covered below 21C, then how will the tan/tanlines be kept up? I know the majorca training camp (and the month of riding in australia) puts the base in, but if one were to use embro on say a 20 C training day, then would the tan/tanlines not be more defined, which is an important aspect of PRO culture?

Radio Freddy said...

Josh - A great question, the tan never goes away. Years of the 50,000 KM season simply does not let go that easily. Throw in the early season training you mentioned and you've got the base. Oh yeah, and don't forget, race day means embro and the PROs spend a great deal of their season bare-kneed and racing.

Unknown said...

Please forgive the stupid questions, but I've never used embrocations before and I'm curious about a few things. I've always used knee warmers on those cold days, but when you throw water into the mix, they just get soaked and seem to do more harm than good, especially on long descents. Are balms better in those conditions?

When applying BKW, do you go all the way up the leg, or stop at the short line?


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Anonymous said...

As its starting to get cooler, I keep coming back to this blog on hints on bettery hot sauces.. I picked up a bottle from Ribbles and the review is dead on. Especially the smell. I took a van with some fellow racers (we were racing track) to get some lunch between races and someone started sniffing and said "Whoa, who smells pro?!".

comasnow said...

This was the first embro I ever tried and I really don't like it, after 30 minutes it pretty much stops working, your skin also has a reaction to it, turning it RED for that 30 minutes - makes your legs look like the next day after your first long ride outside on a sunny spring day.

Anonymous said...

Don't mean to rub it in, but Aussie winters never get that cold. A little moderate embrocation could see you through the entire winter. Maybe knee warmers if you want. Its getting into summer here now. Why don't you all come over here, we'd love to have you!
Aussie Joe.

Anonymous said...

Fan of the blog - with that said, let me ask a question - is it really pro to want to look pro even though you aren't a PRO? Isn't that what they call posing? This site, while still good, is turning into a total vanity site and listen to what people are saying - "who smells pro?" Did anyone in that van ride do a what a pro does like, say, win the race or help a teammate or bury themselves into oblivion on the off chance you might win? Doubt it. Instead all the thought went to - how do my legs look? Is this too much? Does it smell good?

Let me tell you what's pro - out sprinting the up and comer and ensuring he doesn't get a line. Vogels do this to Boonen and he did it with some knee warmers and I'm sure he still smelled pro (pushing him into the cameras might have been a bit much, but Hank never backs down). Check it out:

Anonymous said...

Good point - I'd rather BE good than just LOOK good. As far as caring what I smell like to a bunch of other guys in lycra... come on. Here are the two guys I like to watch for on my regular club ride in Austin TX: Rider #1 shows out in a Rock/Republic kit (bought on line) with shorts rolled up at the hem, perfect white shoes, tall socks and white shades, all greased up and shaved down on a fancy carbon race rig. Rider #2 shows up in a faded old kit jersey and some old Castelli bibs, beat up shoes, no gloves, and shaved legs that look like they have 100,000 miles in them. Guess who hangs in the front all day and who quickly falls to the back? I'm all for style and cool points, but come on, sometimes substance trumps flair.

Ps. Thanks for the review, I am currently shopping for mild embro for the fall.

Radio Freddy said...

Anon 6:50, Soul_Rider - Thanks for spending time reading BKW and your points are noted.

BKW is intended to be a celebration of our sport, not a look book. Personally, I don't care how a rider looks (or smells), but rather the raw emotion they evoke. The use of "PRO" translates to all that is great about our sport. Not who is wearing the most white, smells the mintiest or has the veiniest legs.

Vogels is a great example, he rides with his heart. Burying yourself for a team mate and bordering on hyperventilation and vomiting is another fine example. But so is a rider who exhibits a suppleness on the bike that defines the beauty of our sport (regardless of how fast one is.) I am moved by the sight of an elderly couple standing along side the cobbles in the spring for a quick glimpse of the PROs as they pass.

The smell of embrocation is an aspect of our sport that has become a celebration for me. The bold scent is unmistakable and when the spiciness hits my nose I know I am completely immersed in my element, I am face to face with my passion. The embrocation reviews on BKW are pulled directly from the post-ride coffee chats, it is the kind of stuff cyclists talk about with other cyclists. It's an element that bonds all of us together.

Part of the celebration of cycling is the look, feel and smell of the PRO ranks. It's an important aspect of our sport and each provide a depth and visceral dimension to this life-diversion called cycling.

PRO Defined

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from the bike world, a comment that was so simple in its very nature that it remains a beacon in my cycling journey. My friend JM said to me: "The ideal bike is defined differently by different people". So simple, yet so powerful. I take this with me into every aspect of cycling. For some, the kit and the gear is the most important part of the game. For others, the sharp end of the race is the only aspect that matters. With the exception of the coffee shop, never shall these two meet. But on a two lane road filled with irate, road raging drivers a common bond is immediate.

Anonymous said...

Freddy - Great reply, thanks so much. I love the heart, soul, tradition and spirit of our sport as well. Long live the cycling lifestyle and sport !

jdog said...

If you haven't already tried it I highly recommend HIBROS pre-sport warming oil. It comes in a regular and a strong version. I like the strong better, even on not-so-cold days. It also comes as a lotion/cream, but I like the oil better, it seems to work better and last longer (and the oil is shinier). I'll use it on race day even when it's hot, as it helps mentally motivate me. I've even used it indoors while riding the rollers to help jump-start my motivation for the spring races!

Larry and Heather said...

Don't want to take anything away from the fine products you review here but HOW can we get some more pub for my friends who import/distribute HIBROS or RECORD Both are great products. Thanks! Larry & Heather at CycleItalia