The saying goes: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad kit. This is something we try to remember when we're lying in bed the morning before a bike ride, looking out of the window and seeing grey clouds spitting rain on the cold tarmac. Even the best bib tights might not quite be enough to drag you from the cosy comfort of a warm duvet, but they can go a long way to making a chilly or wet ride a lot more enjoyable.
There are a number of elements that can separate a mediocre pair of bib tights from a pair that surrounds those important leg muscles in a warm cocoon of material. They need to be tight, but not restrictive, warm, but breathable, water-resistant while avoiding that wetsuit-like, suffocating feel. In recent years, technology has constantly evolved meaning new, advanced materials ensure that bib tights to the job better than ever. Here are our picks of the brands that have, simply, got it right with their women's bib tights.
Assos Dyora RS Winter Bib Tights S9
A proper pair of deep winter bib tights that perform incredibly well in the most severe weather, although they can be too warm for everyday use
It’s hard to believe that Assos was once criticised for a lack of serious female kit offerings when looking at the brand’s current range. The Dyora RS Winter Bib Tights are a shining example of the Swiss company’s impressive knowledge of high-performance and technologically advanced materials for cycling apparel, as well as its ability to adapt its garments to fit specifically with the shape and geometry of the female rider.
In order to achieve the extreme levels of warmth that you get from the Dyora tights, Assos has used a clever combination of materials to target protection exactly where it is needed. At the rear of the bibs Assos has added its Sphere medium fabric, with the rest of the garment consisting of Sphere ultra fabric and Osmos heavy material, which has a comforting, soft feel against the skin. All waterproof and windproof, this medley of materials offers a complete block against chilly weather. Setting the Dyora tights apart visually from other offerings on the market are the grey panels on the lower leg, made up of Assos’ neoprene material. These repel water, enhancing the weather resistance of an overshoe, keeping the bottom of the leg, which is largely hit by water from puddles on the roads, dry and protected. As for the chamois, the famed GoldenGate technology means there is no stitching alongside the panels, allowing freedom of movement and ensuring there is no friction, which is especially important during wet weather rides.
It’s worth noting that these bib tights are designed for the harshest conditions and offer protection accordingly. I found that riding above around eight degrees celsius, they almost offered an excessive amount of warmth. They are ideal for cold, wet rides, but I likely wouldn’t reach for them unless it was a particularly chilly day. The bib tights don’t come up too high on the body, unlike those of other manufacturers, and, personally, I would prefer for them to sit slightly higher to add another layer of insulation around the body’s core. They also lack an easy-pee feature. The ‘X’ shape of the bibs is extremely comfortable, however, and allows freedom of movement which is welcome when getting in and out of the saddle.
Retailing at £335, these are the most expensive bib tights in our guide and the Dyora tights are a significant investment (the Assos UMA GT Winter Bib Tights C2 are a cheaper option). However, if you are looking for protection in the most extreme of weather conditions, there are no better options on the market.
- Thick and warm enough for minus temperatures
- Neoprene material at the bottom of the leg is great in the rain
- GoldenGate technology makes for a good chamois
- Too warm to be wearable above 8 degrees celsius
- No easy-pee functionality
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
Velocio Women’s Thermal Bib Tights
A compressive, lightweight bib tight that is great in wet weather, but maybe not for the coldest days
New England-based brand Velocio has long been the vanguard for the trend of creating better women’s cycling apparel options. It’s a company which started out solely creating women’s kit, adding men’s options to its range afterwards. Recently acquired by cycling componentry giant SRAM, Velocio is a brand which is rapidly rising to a household name when it comes to cycling clothing.
Its Thermal Bib Tights include a range of features that genuinely make them one of the highest performing on the market. Starting at the top, the seamless Microfiber bib straps are comfortable and flexible – I’ve never felt any rubbing or friction from the soft, elastic material. There’s more to these straps, though: they form part of Velocio’s innovative FlyFree feature (something that’s included across the brands entire range of shorts and bib tights.) The importance of the FlyFree functionality should not be underestimated, it means that the bib tights can be pulled down – thanks to the extreme elasticity of the material – so that a rider can go to the toilet while out on a ride without having to remove bib straps from the shoulders, hence without having to remove any upper layers of clothing. On a cold winter’s morning, this is crucial and makes the riding experience much more enjoyable.
The FlyFree feature is enough of a selling point in itself for me personally, but the benefits of the Velocio Thermal Bib Tights don’t stop there. The Thermoroubaix Power fabric used throughout the tights is warm, but it doesn’t feel heavy, while the front-facing wind block panel gives added protection from cold weather. Treated with DWR (durable water repellent) and featuring a waterproof fabric on the lower part of the tights at the rear, the Thermal Bib Tights perform well in downpours, too.
There’s no denying that these bib tights have a compressive fit and are a bit tricky to put on, but once they’re on, they’re flexible and stretchy. I found the Velocio bib tights to be warm enough for the majority of a British winter, but, should you be riding in temperatures that hit below four degrees celsius, I’m not sure if these would quite be warm enough. I’d recommend going for the Assos Dyora RS Winter Bib Tights S9 for that. Velocio’s Signature Chamois is comfortable for all-day adventures in the saddle, but I would note that after almost two winters of heavy use in these bib tights, some of the stitching has started to come undone on the chamois, Velocio has offered to repair these for me, free of charge, however.
- Great ‘easy-pee’ feature
- Flattering compressive fit
- Comfortable chamois even in the wet
- Not warm enough for deep winter
- Could be more durable
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
Sportful Women’s Fiandre NoRain Bib Tights
Comfortable, warm bib tights tight which will be perfect for a rider with long legs, also very affordable
At the other end of the price spectrum to Assos’s Dyora Tights sit the Sportful Fiandre NoRain Bib Tights. Currently retailing for just £84, these offer great value for money, performing exceptionally well in wet weather conditions. They feature Sportful’s NoRain Thermal fabric for warmth and water repellency and I found this fabric to work well during some significant downpours. When riding, you can see the water droplets form on the outer layer of the fabric, but they didn’t penetrate through the garment, even when the rain was heavy. Also aiding water protection are the minimal seams on the bib tights, meaning there are very few openings for rain to edge inside the garment.
The mesh straps on the NoRain Bib Tights are comfortable and breathable, and they come up higher on the body which makes for a flattering look. I would note that these bib tights came up slightly bigger than those from other brands in the same size, so it could be worth considering sizing down if you are unsure what to go for. Another issue I have with the sizing is the leg length on the tights, they are significantly longer than any other bib tights I own, which meant I had some bunching around the knee. This didn’t really affect my comfort or performance when riding, but it wasn’t the optimum fit. Unfortunately, the NoRain Bib Tights don’t feature an ‘easy-pee’ feature, either.
However, if you’re looking for a good quality pair of bib tights which don’t break the bank, these are a great option. They look far more expensive than they are, with understated branding and reflective logos and have a warm and comfortable feel.
- Stretch material which is really comfortable
- Sleek look
- No easy-pee functionality
- Unusually long leg length
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
Rapha Pro Team Winter Tights
Warm, protective and water resistant bib tights that are great for riders who don’t like a compressive fit
Rapha is one of the leading brands on the market when it comes to cycling apparel, and the Pro Team Winter Tights are a staple in the clothing manufacturer’s offerings. As sponsors of both the men’s and women’s EF Education WorldTour teams, Rapha knows a thing or two about high performance kit, and these bib tights are no exception.
The flagship feature of Rapha’s Pro Team Winter Tights is undoubtedly the magnetic clasp on the rear of the bib tights, designed to make relieving yourself on the move a much less fiddly job. The clasp allows the bib tights to be pulled down without having to remove either your jacket or jersey. Rapha claims that only one hand is needed to undo the clasp, which is true, but should the strap move too high once pulling the bib tights back up, I found myself having to enlist the help of others on my ride to reattach the straps. However, once fastened, the magnetic clasp was strong and responsive, and I felt no danger of it coming undone while riding.
What Rapha may lack slightly in handiness when it comes to the easy-pee feature, they certainly make up for in the warm, protective qualities of the Pro Team tights. Likely my favourite feature of the garment was the thermal, high-waist panel that added further insulation to the torso, almost acting as a secondary baselayer to keep that all important core temperature high. The thermoroubaix fleece behind the knees and on the calves also ensured the rest of the body was kept warm and protected from any biting wind.
Despite Rapha advising the selection of a bigger size for products in the Pro Team range, I found that the size medium I tested was relatively roomy compared to other brands, with some slight gaping around the ankle that could be remedied by the addition of a zipper. The women’s specific chamois hits the sweet spot — a perfect thickness with a fully moulded, seamless construction which makes the bib tights comfortable in both race position and when riding leisurely on the tops. Reflective panels on the rear of the bib tights ensure visibility in low light, a handy feature as the bibs do only come in a plain black colour currently.
Priced at £210, the Pro Team tights are expensive, but when compared to the Assos Dyora RS winter tights which are priced at £335, the cost is a little more digestible. However, Rapha’s Core range is a good alternative for those looking for quality kit on a budget, with the Core bib tights priced at only £110.
- Nice design features
- Magnetic clasp is a good attempt at a solution for nature breaks
- Magnetic clasp could be better designed for ease of use
- Oversized fit that could be more compressive
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
Pas Normal Studios Women's Essential Thermal Long Bib
A stylish and on-trend pair of bib tights that also do the job when it comes to performance
If you’re familiar with the cycling influencer sphere, you’ll likely have heard of Pas Normal Studios. It is a brand which has hugely grown in popularity since its inception in 2014, constantly releasing innovative products in on-trend colours, with understated but striking branding. This makes the Danish company popular among cycling’s most fashionable, with the brand even retailing on high-end, in vogue websites such as Mr Porter. Pas Normal Studios says that its concept is to “create technically perfect apparel, combined with visionary aesthetics.”
The Essential Thermal Long Bibs are no exception to Pas Normal’s rule of creating cycling apparel with ‘visionary aesthetics’. They come in three colourways: black, blue and olive, all of which feature the brand’s iconic branding, including the ‘Essentials’ logo on the rear. But these bib tights feel good as well as look good, with the M.I.T.I SuperRoubaix fabric soft and comfortable against the skin. The fight isn’t too tight, which is a good thing for longer rides when you’re looking for added comfort, but perhaps isn’t the most aerodynamic fit if you’re looking for those sort of incremental gains. The seam above the knee ensures there are no restrictions when completing a pedal stroke, making the Essential Long Bib have a ‘barely-there’ feel.
These bib tights are warm enough to use even in temperatures dropping below five degrees and the DWR treatment made them good in wet weather, too. Pas Normal Studios has struck an impressive balance between extremely warm tights while maintaining a lightweight feel. At £240, you are certainly paying for the privilege of having such on-trend tights, but it’s fair to say that these aren’t just a fashion statement, they perform especially well technically, too.
- Look great with stylish branding
- Comfortable fit
- No easy-pee feature
- Could have a more aerodynamic fit
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
Rapha Pro Team Training Tights
A lightweight and breathable option for intense training during spring and autumn conditions
They might have similar names and be made by the same brand, but Rapha’s Pro Team Training Tights and Pro Team Winter Tights sit far apart when it comes to purpose and usage. Unlike the winter tights, Pro Team Training Tights are made of an extremely lightweight material (which has no lining whatsoever) that wicks sweat and has the barely there feel of leg warmers without sacrificing the flexibility, comfort and security that bib tights offer. For years, I’ve struggled to dress for changeable spring and autumn time conditions because I haven’t been able to find leg warmers that fit right and stay up without sacrificing the blood circulation on my legs, but the Pro Team Training Tights have solved this issue.
The lightweight feel is made possible by the fully recycled nylon and elastane material that makes up the main body of the tights. This material feels smooth and has a shiny finish, as well as being thin with a compressive fit which is great for intense efforts. The cuffed hems at the bottom of the tights ensure that they stay firmly in place, while Rapha’s redesigned bib construction at the rear is supportive while maintaining a ‘barely there’ feel.
Like with all Rapha bib tights I own, I found the pad in the Training Tights extremely comfortable for varying ride durations, including when I was in an aggressive race position sitting far forward on the saddle. Rapha says that this chamois is size-specific, too, meaning it is optimised for each rider depending on the size of bib tight which they purchase. The Rapha Pro Team tights don’t have an easy solution for nature breaks in the female version, although they are marketed as a garment for shorter, high-intensity efforts rather than all-day adventures. The reflective logos on the sides and rear of the tights also give peace of mind when out in the early hours of the morning or late at night.
The Pro Team Training Tights retail for £180, which is a reasonable price and fairly middling in the market. It’s important to note that these tights likely would not be the best investment if you want a pair of bibs to see you through the entire winter – I don’t expect they’d be warm enough in temperatures below eight degrees celsius. However, if you often find yourself scratching your head about what to wear during autumn and spring and are not a fan of leg warmers, then these are a wardrobe staple.
- Negate the need for leg warmers
- Aerodynamic fit
- Attention to detail
- Expensive for a garment that doesn’t have use all winter
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary