With winter well and truly here, it’s time to pull out the winter cycling gear. While the best cycling shorts paired with leg warmers will get you through a cold ride, a good set of tights will make the experience exponentially more enjoyable.
Early bib tights were thick, bulky, and felt a bit like you were trying to ride in an 8mm wetsuit. Things have come a long way since then and now we have luxurious soft fleece-lined fabrics and Windstopper materials that keep the cold out without limiting your range of motion. Some can even shrug off a bit of wet weather as well.
You can easily spend a fortune on a set of bib tights, and with all the different weights and weatherproofing, you’d hate to drop big money on a set designed to handle the brutal cold of winter in North Dakota, if you live somewhere the cold season is a bit milder.
Read on for a rundown of the best bib tights for winter cycling, and once you’ve found what you need, why not check out the best winter cycling jackets and best winter cycling shoes to go with them?
Jump to our guide on what to look for in a pair of bib tights
Best winter bib tights
Warm, stretchy, and luxurious are words we would use to describe Castelli’s Tutto Nano Bibtight. Made from the Italian outfit’s Nano Flex 3G fabric, the brand says the exterior DWR treatment introduces a ‘nanotechnology mechanical repellency’ to enhance droplet-shedding ability. They aren’t waterproof but will handle a decent amount of rain, all without sacrificing breathability.
The interior is brushed to trap in heat, and Castelli has reduced the number of seams and improved the tailoring to lessen pinching and chafing. The brand has also included its Kiss Air2 seat pad to keep you sitting pretty for many hours when the weather is less than enticing.
Velocio’s Thermal Bib tights are made from fleece-lined ThermoRoubaix Power fabric, which adds a bit of insulation over the standard fleece-lined material widely used for this type of garment, The exterior has also received a DWR treatment to shrug off light showers. On top of being fleece-lined bib tights, they also have a wind-blocking panel situated over the crotch area to prevent your family jewels from becoming icicles.
Available in men’s and women’s cuts with a gender-specific Cytech chamois, the women’s version sees Velocio’s Fly Free back, which allows for nature breaks without also having to take off all your layers.
The vast majority of bib tights command a heavy price tag, but you don’t have to spend a bundle to stay warm this winter. dhb’s Classic Thermo bib tights have everything that you need and nothing that you don’t. Like all the rest, they are made from fleece-lined fabric, which comes up well above your waist to keep your core warm. For these tights in particular, dhb has partnered with the MITI Spa textile mill, using its Lombardia 235gsm Roubaix fabric, which is bluesign approved.
Inside, you’ll find an Elastic Interface Giro Air custom chamois, which dhb says is ideal for rides over three hours. The latest version of these tights features a lengthened front zipper to make install and removal a bit less awkward, while the ankle zippers and grippers have been replaced with a more straightforward compression stitching that holds the hem firmly in place.
Made from a fleece-backed Roubaix style fabric, Rapha’s Cargo Bib Tights are a winter-ready version of its popular cargo riding shorts. There is a pocket on either leg so you can easily access snacks, and two pockets on the lower back to carry things that you don’t need at a moment’s notice. Both pockets on the left-hand side are both zippered and lined with water-resistant fabric.
The bib tights are DWR-treated to shed light rain and road spray, and there are two large reflective panels on the back of either calf to draw attention.
The Elite AmFib bib tights are the warmest that Pearl Izumi makes, and the brand has thrown the kitchen sink of fabric tech at them to keep you toasty. The bulk of the tights are made with AmFib softshell fabric with a laminated membrane to keep the wind and some airborne moisture at bay. The face fabric is then treated with the brand’s PI Dry, proprietary permanent DWR technology so that water beads and rolls off rather than soaking in and sucking up body heat.
The interior is lined with soft fleece and Pearl’s Elite Escape 1:1 chamois that uses variable density padding, an articulated shape, and a floating top sheet to reduce friction and enhance blood flow — they are also available without a pad. To top off, the tights feature BioViz reflective elements help with visibility when you’re racing the sun home.
RoS stands for ’rain or shine’ and that is precisely where the Sorpasso RoS tights are designed to excel. The base fabric is made from the same NanoFlex 3G weather-resistant fabric as the Tutto bibs up above, but Castelli has also integrated NanoFelx Xtra Dry windproof fabric across the front panel and over the thighs.
Layflat bib straps stay comfortable as you pile on the layers, and the plush Progetto XT Air seamless chamois will keep you sitting comfortably for hours on end.
The winters in Scottland are the opposite of mild, so it’s no surprise to see Endura making some of the best bib tights out there. The bulk of the Pro SL Biblong is made from ThermoRoubaix fabric with a plush brushed interior, while the outside gets a PFC-free DWR-M treatment, to stave of the elements without hurting the environment in the process. On the front, Endura has added windproof panels in critical areas to ensure the cold doesn’t make its way inside.
Endura offers the Pro SL Biblong with three widths of its 700-series chamois to tailor the fit to your sit bones and saddle. On the back, you’ll find a laser-cut pocket ideal for smaller items and the tights have reflective stripes on the ankle and calves for added lowlight visibility. There are no ankle zippers, but there is one front zipper to make nature breaks a bit less awkward.
If you’re the type of person who heads out for a ride even if it’s snowing sideways and the mercury has dropped through the bottom of the thermometer, then the Gore Wear C3 Windstopper Bib tights should have a place in your closet.
Large panels of Windstopper fabric across the front of the tights defang biting winds, the face fabric is also DWR-treated to protect from light showers. On the inside, a brushed lining traps warmth to make the most of the heat your legs and core generate. Windstopper fabric isn’t quite as elastic as ThermoRoubaix or other unlaminated textiles, so Gore has tailored the C3 bib tights with an articulated fit to allow full range of motion, without binding or pinching as you pedal.
What to look for in a pair of bib tights
If you’re overwhelmed by all the options out there, then here are a few important considerations to take into account when deciding what to buy.
1. Bib or waist
Just like standard shorts are available in shorts or bibs, so are winter tights. We prefer the latter because they don’t fall down as you ride, nor do they require elastic around your waist. Beyond just holding the tights in place, the knock-on advantage of bibs is the straps allow the insulating fabric to come up over your stomach and back to keep your core warm.
While there’s no shortage of truly wind- and waterproof jackets on the market, bib tights aren’t quite there yet. When you think about the motion your legs go through as you pedal, the fabrics used for bib shorts and tights need to be dynamic and extremely malleable to allow a full range of movement. The nature of the laminated materials and perforated membranes haven’t quite reached this level of stretch, and for something to be truly waterproof, the entire garment needs to be made from such a fabric — so a pair of tights made from 3-layer Gore-Tex wouldn’t be all that comfortable.
With that said, strategically placed Windstopper on the areas that are exposed to the breeze can do wonders for adding warmth. Many bib tights also receive a DWR treatment which will cause water to bead and roll off rather than soaking in. This is not quite the same thing as waterproofing and DWR will be overcome in a deluge.
Down pants for lounging around are one of those things that you don’t realize what you’re missing out on until you have a pair. But, as far as we are aware, there are no bib tights with lofted insulation — yet. Instead, most bib tights will be made from what’s commonly referred to as Roubaix fabrics, similar to what your arm and leg warmers are likely made from. This fabric comes in different weights and has a brushed interior for on-skin comfort and to trap in some heat.
4. Chamois or no Chamois
The age-old question is whether or not they should have a chamois. It seems that brands are generally moving towards bib tights with a chamois. The advantage here is you’re wearing fewer things and there are less grippers, seams and changes in fabric to rub, chafe, bunch, or cause other discomforts. However, it also means they need to be washed between successive rides, so you can’t just have a single pair.
5. Zippers or no zippers
Many bib tights will have zippers at the ankles and some right around the area of your belly button. These are simply to assist with getting the bib tights on and off — which they do. Zippers can also cause some discomfort or chafing if they are poorly placed.
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