Best bib tights for winter riding 2018
How to find the best bib tights to keep your legs warm this winter
Most manufacturers now integrate a chamois into their tights: not so long ago it was common to wear unpadded tights over bibshorts. Using padded tights mean fewer seams and fewer straps, but if you’re a regular rider it will mean buying more than just a couple of pairs of tights.
The simplest tights are made from a fleecy-backed Roubaix-style material and are neither windproof nor waterproof. With manufacturers such as Gore now involved, however, more technical fabrics that are breathable but with water-repellent coatings are appearing. The most sophisticated tights locate different types of fabric and different numbers of layers in the specific areas where they will be most effective against cold, wind and rain.
What to look for in cycling bib tights
Shopping for bib tights that will keep you pedalling in comfort all year? This is what to look for…
Wind and waterproofing
Bib tights often use a soft and warm Roubaix fabric to provide insulation. However, some also incorporate windproof panels, and others go further and sew in water resistant or waterproof elements. The more protection you get from adverse conditions, generally the more bulky the tights will be – but sometimes a little freedom of movement is worth sacrificing. The very best bibs will be able to provide waterproof elements with a supple fabric.
Sure, you’re looking for kit to wear during cold weather. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to sweat. The fabric needs to be breathable, especially at the upper body where mesh is often used.
At the heart of any pair of bib tights is the chamois. This needs to provide comfort when spending hours in the saddle. In years past, brands often provided tights without a pad, to be worn over your favourite cycling shorts. These days, they can all sew in pad into tights in a way that’s comfy and the reduced seam count is preferable.
Waist vs bibs
We’ve reviewed bib tights below – these have upper body portions which means they can’t fall down, they don’t cut in at the stomach and the chamois stays put. It is possible to get waist tights, but we’d always recommend bibs.
The best men’s bib tights reviewed
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Endura Pro SL Biblong bib tights £159.99 – BEST ON TEST
Endura has got it all right with the Pro SLs. The Scottish brand has packed in an impressive number of features – including three pad width options.
A windproof, breathable fabric with a DWR coating is used down the fronts of the legs and above the bum. The sides use stretchier panels and the Pro SL’s legs are anatomically shaped to avoid the fabric stretching over the knee. There’s a soft, red, Thermoroubaix lining to trap in the warmth.
Behind the calves are large panels of reflective dots plus white flashes at the ankles for daytime visibility.
The ankles are zipless but the front of the bib does have a short zip above the waist to reduce strap-yank during toilet breaks.
The chamois positioned itself perfectly and stayed in place, too.
Le Col HC bib tights £220
These sit at the top of the Le Col bib tights range and are claimed to be “highly waterproof and breathable for all winter weather”.
These are incredibly comfortable and warm. Fleece-lined fabric is soft against the skin, doesn’t cause irritation and adds a touch of luxury. We didn’t experience any overheating in these and the fit was good with no bunching at the knee.
The pad, although comfortable, did move around slightly, especially out of the saddle.
Reflective parts are a nice addition along with the splash protection on the lower leg.
Although elsewhere the material has a small amount of water beading capability, it isn’t exactly “highly waterproof” but it doesn’t soak up the moisture and get soggy.
Zipped leg holes work nicely and don’t cause any discomfort.
At £220, these are quite pricey, especially considering the shift in the chamois.
Ale Clima Protection 2.0 Be-Hot bib tights £150
Constructed from ‘Blizzarrd Aqua Zero Be-Hot fabric’, the deep-winter tights from Ale are windproof and water repellent, and designed to suit temperatures from -4°C to 6°C.
These feature rubberized waterproof cuffs which can sit over winter boots for a better seal. The bib is made from a very stretchy “zero friction” fabric and seams are flatlocked throughout.
Ale uses its Double Ergo HF chamois, which has a bi-component surface that is thicker over the contact point and reduced towards the outside.
The Be-Hot fabric is stiff and we found that because of the lack of stretch in the material and its tightness on the legs, the pedaling movement pulled the chamois too far forward with the stretchy bib straps unable to hold it in place. By contrast, the cheaper Ale Clima 2.0 Speedfond Thermo in the same size worked perfectly, which suggests sizing could be slightly hit-and-miss between models.
Fit aside, performance is excellent with the Clima Protections doing everything they’re claimed to do on the coldest and wettest days of the year so far.
Gore Power Thermo+ bib tights £124.99
A lot of attention to detail has been made and the Power Thermo+ tights are well designed for typical UK road conditions.
The brand has made use of its extensive range of technical fabrics – using Windstopper panels at the knees, front of the calves and rear end.
The rest of the Gore Power Thermo+ bibtights is made of a lighter weight, soft thermal fabric, which is fleece backed.
Ankle zips have been abandoned, but we found these easy to get on and off and there’s a reflective band around the ankles and reflective lettering on both thighs and on the rear.
Gore’s pad is quite thick and has further windproof fabric in its front, unpadded section. There’s plenty of cushioning under the sitbones and the bib front comes up quite high, for extra protection.
The best women’s bib tights reviewed
Women’s bib tights often have a slightly different upper section, with a halterneck or releasable clasp designed to make comfort breaks more easy. Some, however, forgo this and offer a full body option, which doubles up as a base layer.
Sportful Fiandre NoRain Women’s bib tights £130 – BEST ON TEST
NoRain is a nanotechnology water repellent coating that makes water just bead off.
Underneath the NoRain is fabric that has a thermal fleecy back and is, according to Sportful, extremely breathable with minimal moisture absorption, keeping you dry inside and out. At the back a NoRain Light rear flap with reflective detailing offers extra protection from rear wheel spray – indispensable for those not mudguarded up.
There’s a high-fronted mesh upper with a zip closure, while at the bottom a reflective piping surrounds camlock ankle zips.
The women’s Infinity seat pad is a great option and we found the women’s-specific fit was spot on.
There’s a double layer of thermal material at the thighs and knees which worked well and we were really impressed by the level of stretch still around the knee area.
NoRain is only water resistant, but in really wet conditions we stayed dry for an hour.
Assos Habu LaaLaLai_S7 women’s bib tights £230
Assos’s tights feature its RX Heavy Fabric – this is water repellent and designed to be quick drying.
The women’s specific pad has 8mm of memory foam, uses three layers of ‘waffle’ fabric and the infamous Golden Gate floating insert.
Whilst the chamois is notably soft, the dominant fabric on the legs has a feeling of durability, hugging quite tightly on first wear but easing off to reveal a supportive, robust fit that’s plenty warm.
We tested the Assos tights between 4-15°C and never felt too hot or too cold.
In rain, you’ll never stay totally dry but huge beads of water do drop off the fabric.
Assos has used the same over-the-head neck strap, with a clasp at the front for several years – we feel to make these perfect the toilet break mechanism could do with modernisation.
Read our full review of the Assos Women’s Habu LaaLaLai_S7 bib tights 0r check out our review of the men’s Assos HabutightsMille S7 tights
Santini Coral 2.0 women’s bib tights £99.99
The Coral 2.0s are made from Thermofleece, which Santini says is perfect for temperatures ranging from 0-15°C.
The Thermofleece is used across the front and back – with a mesh colour panel that boasts excellent sweat-wicking abilities.
The pad is a GIL2 women’s-specific chamois has a twist gel core between two layers of foam.
These tights are soft, comfortable and stretchy, with no ankle zips but easy to get on.
Santini has positioned reflectives at the ankle, which will be hidden under overshoes, so could do with being 6in higher.
On hilly routes at around 9°C we were warm on the flats and descents, but far from a sweaty mess on the climbs.
Our only issue is that they aren’t totally windproof or have any resistance to water. To get through the entire British winter you’ll need to upgrade to a water-resistant pair or sit the wet rides out.
Dhb Aeron FLT Halterneck women’s bib tights £85
These tights come from dhb’s performance-orientated collection and feature Flashlight Technology for added visibility.
The tights use Italian Roubaix brushed fleece that provides warmth, though breathability is still promised.
The pad is a Cytech Elastic Interface Tour HP and there’s a silicone ankle gripper and YKK lock-down zippers.
We found these warm enough and never felt we were overheating. The fabric hugged calves, knees and quads in the cosy fashion of a much more expensive pair.
dhb’s halterneck bathroom break feature is simple: a stretchy upper provides plenty of movement but is tough enough to keep the bottom half in place while riding. The stretch does mean the straps adopt the ‘around the bust’ position but in our opinion this beats having a clasp holding the straps in the middle.
Overall, fantastic value for money.
Chapeau! Soulor women’s bib tights £89.99
The Soulor consist of a stretchy exterior that assures a slim fit, and a brushed fleece interior.
The upper back is covered by a mesh panel, with mesh straps progressing to a zipped body section that finishes around the stomach. There are no ankle zips.
Saddle comfort comes from a women’s-specific Dolomiti Maloja pad which varies in density, without creating ‘steps’ in the pad which can collect sweat.
There’s no comfort break feature and the chest is left exposed so a base layer is required.
When on the bike, the pad provided plenty of comfort. It stayed put and would be more than adequate on an all-day base-mile excursion.
When pedalling, the fabric on the legs remained warming, breathable and supportive – definitely a material that will support happy winter pedalling.
Chapeau! has set out to create a ‘simple, flattering and reliable’ pair of tights. That’s exactly what it’s done, and we can add ‘good value’ to the list.
Not what you’re looking for? More well reviewed cycling bib tights
We’ve got plenty more bib tight reviews for you to check out…
Castelli Nanoflex Pro bib tights
Review score: 9/10
Designed for comfortable riding in the worst conditions, these bib tights are a heavy weight option with waterproof Nano Flex light overlays over the thighs, knees and rear.
Santini Vega Acquazero bib tights
Review score: 9/10
Wet weather ready bib tights, these come with an Acquazero treatment designed to repel water. They don’t come with a roubaix lining, and have mesh inserts at the back – making them a great option for days when it’s more wet then cold.
Sportful Bodyfit Pro Thermal bib tights
Review score: 10/10
A long standing favourite, the Sportful BodyFit Pro bib tights have seen a few tweaks here and there over the years, but they’ve always impressed us. They come with embossed, Thermo Drytex Plus fabric and a Thermo Drytex Double brushed fleece treatment on the inside.
Morvelo Stealth Stormshield bibknickers
Review score: 9/10
You don’t always want to go for full tights – which is where 3/4 lengths come in – and some people like to call these bibknickers. These come with a water resistant finish, to keep you comfortable during showers. However, you’ll also find lots of great breathability promotion features.
Not seeing a pair you know and love? Let us, and other readers, know in the comments if you think you’ve struck bib-tight gold with a brand we’ve not mentioned…