The best winter cycling tights: The Desire Selection
Make winter a little warmer with Rouleur’s pick of the most stylish bib tights
Aesthetically speaking, you might question how much desire anyone can feel for a pair of winter cycling tights. Historically they've tended to cut a fairly standard silhouette – black, roughly leg-length and often with a curious ankle-zipper.
However, rather than sell themselves solely on the promise of toastier legs and less crunchy knees, the seven sets we’ve rounded up also provide a more-than-average injection of style.
Thanks to ever smarter fabrics, what previously just added a little extra coverage to your legs can now accomplish clever things like fending off wind and rain, with wind and water-resistant membranes alongside water repellent treatments such as DWR.
The complete guide to the Desire Selection
Achieved at the same time as swaddling your legs and midriff in soft fleecy fabrics, a good set will leave you one less excuse to stay indoors – and that can only be a good thing.
Assos Equipe RS S9 Winter bib tights
£335, Shop Assos
Either because you know you’re going to ride through the worst conditions, or because you’re happy to invest in ensuring you’re as likely to as possible, these represent the top of the winter bib tight market.
Using an incredible array of high-tech fabrics, their design includes a slew of clever features, including rain protection on the legs and silver rubber-like lower cuffs made specifically for use with overshoes. Using Assos’ heavy-weight brushed Osmos fabric for warmth, they’re also designed to stop sensitive bits from getting cold. We often use a set of these, and can confirm, they are unbelievably cosy, strikingly waterproof, yet impressively breathable.
With the same straps and chamois that have made the brand’s summer bibs famous, they’re also as handsome a pair of tights as we’ve ever seen.
Café Du Cycliste Marie bib tights
£216, Shop Men | Shop Women
Cut slightly higher at the front for extra warmth, these attractive looking bib tights from French firm Café Du Cycliste benefit from both a dense weave and a water repellent finish.
Breathable and easy to pull on, their flatlock seams aim to cut down the likelihood of any junction between panels causing irritation. Further comforting wearers keen to take on long winter routes, Italian firm CyTech supply the endurance-focused chamois.
Having formerly come in navy and green, it’s a little sad to see these more daring shades discontinued. Either way, with slivers of reflectivity and barely-there logos the black ones are still rather lovely, albeit in a more low-key sort of way.
Rapha Pro Team Winter tights
£210, Shop Women | Shop Men
Warm and fleecy, this updated version of Rapha’s close-fitting Pro Team Winter Tight now comes with added weather protection. As befitting something designed in a country that specialises in grey and changeable, their front sections are made of a wind-blocking fabric that’s treated to help it shed rain and spray.
Offering a compressive fit on the bike, key panels facing the saddle are made of tougher fabric helping ensure they’ll survive the sort of mucky conditions that can eat up mechanical parts.
High at the front for added insulation, you’ll find a single radio pocket between the rear of the straps. With large Rapha logos down the side, these along with the bars and tabs are reflective for enhanced nighttime visibility.
For the women's tights, Rapha has outdone itself with an innovative magnetic clasp for the upper section, positioned beneath the rear pockets of your jersey. That means the bib straps can be easily removed, a huge advantage for winter comfort breaks. Using strengthened injection-moulded plastic, the clasp should also stand the test of time.
Le Col Hors Categorie tights
£220, Shop Women | Shop Men
Using the same Aqua Zero material found on its water-resistant jerseys, this features a tight weave and water-resistant treatment. Even better at keeping out the wind, its inside is fleecy enough to keep any heat you generate trapped close to the skin while also being nice and soft to the touch.
Tight-fitting with a supposed emphasis on aerodynamics, both the tight’s main material and features are free from Latex, which is useful if you’re allergic. This includes the chunky looking zipped closures around the ankles.
Based around the Dolomiti gel chamois used in the brand’s top-end summer bib shorts, the tights are also made in Italy.
ashmei Padded Thermal Merino bib tights
£228, Shop ashmei
Sheep aren’t fazed by the cold and rain, and neither should you be. Part of the reason sheep are unlikely to cry-off in the face of baad (sorry) weather comes courtesy of the wool they arrive wrapped in.
Naturally warm even when damp, it’s breathable, able to manage odour, and when it’s soft like Merino, very comfortable against the skin. Ashmei’s Padded Thermal Merino bib tights use it to provide their insulation, while a high-density foam chamois imparts similar levels of saddle facing comfort.
Treated with a eco-friendly PFC-free durable water-resistant finish, and rounded off with reflective detailing, the result is a pair of tights that should keep you happy across a huge range of conditions.
Castelli Sorpasso RoS bib tights
£165, Shop Castelli
Bearing the same RoS (rain or shine) label as Castelli’s famous Gabba jersey, these bib tights are made to perform well however hard the weather tries to ruin your ride. To achieve this they employ the brand’s flexible, warm, and water repellent Nano Flex 3G fabric. Backed by even more resilient panels of Nano Flex Xtra Dry in key wind-facing areas, both fabrics possess a high degree of stretch.
Allowing for a compressive race-style fit, their tall back adds additional insulation while their broad straps are unlikely to get in a twist. Using the firm’s Progetto X2 Air chamois, fan’s of the Italian brand might recognise this as being borrowed from its summer endurance shorts.
With YKK Camlock zippers securing them to your ankles or over your overshoes, the back of these is covered with a pleasingly chunky reflective strip. For really frigid days, Castelli also makes a windproof version of the Sorpasso, along with the even tougher Nano Flex Pro 2 for temperatures freezing and below.
Isadore ThermoRoubaix tights without chamois
£160, Shop Women | Shop Men
Designed to throw over your regular shorts, these warm coveralls from Isadore are made of fleecy Thermo Roubaix fabric. Allowing you to rotate your existing collection of shorts throughout the winter, assuming you avoid the mud, you might even get a couple of wears out of them before they require a wash.
Also slightly cheaper than buying a tight with a chamois stitched in, they’re a versatile alternative. Isadore’s feature micro-perforated panels over the most active muscles, while a durable water-resistant treatment helps them shake off water.
Fitted with stirrups at the bottom, this will both keep your Achilles from getting cold while also ensuring the tights themselves stay locked in place.