With cold weather looming just around the corner, it's time to think about expanding your cycling wardrobe to include bib tights.
Imagine the scene; it's the dead of winter, the sun's shining high in the sky, you're dying to get in the saddle but you don't want to be stuck with all-day shivers. Enter bib tights.
Admit it, cycling in winter is amazing, and it can be made even more amazing by getting the right pair that will keep you warm, dry and comfortable on even the coldest of days.
Here's an introduction to five pairs of women's bib tights that we'll be testing over the coming weeks. Watch this space for the full in depth reviews.
[part title='Pearl Izumi W AmFIB Drop Tail Cycling Bib Tight']
With several interesting features designed to increase comfort on wintertime rides, these bib tights from Pearl Izumi look to be well made and comfortable.
Pearl Izumi has developed an interesting take on the universal issue of convenience breaks while wearing bib tights, this was included in their bib shorts earlier this year. The bib is attached only at the front; a longer panel at the rear tucks into the waistband at the back. The idea being, that you don’t need to completely remove these leggings should you need to answer the call of nature. This ‘drop tail’ is useful, but on the shorts we found that the panel at the back didn’t always stay tucked in while riding, we'll see if it's the same for the tights in testing.
Other key features include articulated knees for comfort while pedalling, zips at the rear of the ankle with material zipper garage, full length zip down the front of the bib top and Pearl Izumi's women's Elite 3D chamois.
Size available: XS - XL
Price: RRP £139.99
Colour options: Plain black
More information: Pearl Izumi
[part title='SCOTT W’s Shadow AS B-Tights Plus']
These Shadow AS bib leggings from Scott feature the traditional style of bib straps. The top half, as you'd expect is made of lighter thinner material than the legs, to help wick moisture away, almost mesh like in its texture.
Panelling around the torso and waist utilises lycra that is fleecy lined, while not as thick as the leg fabric will hopefully keep your kidneys warm. SCOTT promote the W's Shadow AS B-tights as being able to withstand temperatures reaching -5°. Let's hope it doesn't get that chilly though.
The use of fabric on the legs has been thought through, internally all of the panels have a fleecy back, so your legs feel snug and keep in the warmth. On the front panels, to help keep the wind out, they've used a windstopper top layer. In addition teflon finishing has been used for the rear leg panels, to protect against water and dirt.
Reaching the hem, the cuff of the leg is folded back on itself, so there are no seams. A zipper is featured down the side of the ankle, with reflective detailing.
In terms of the chamois, it's worlds apart from the one in Scott's bib shorts, more a sponge foam-type pad that seems to be quite large width wise! We'll see how it works in the test rides before we pass judgement on its comfort.
Size available: XS - XL
Price: RRP £129.99
Colour options: Plain black with raspberry pink stitching (pictured)
More information: Scott Sports
[part title="Sportful Winter 2013 Betty Bibtight"]
For just a tenner more that Sportful's Dream Tights, you can feel warm and snuggly in a bib tight version. The straps, like with most winter bib tights, are more of a top, with a zipper running down the front to just below the navel to help with access.
The bib tights' material is stretchy and the legs are easy to get on. Overall, the fabric feels warm and soft against the skin, with a fleece-like lining. In terms of the chamois, Sportful have used their Princess pad, which is 8mm at its thickest and promoted to be 'perfect for long training rides when comfort is a priority,' we'll report fully in our review.
Other thoughtful features include reflective detailing on the back of the legs, ankle camlock zippers and a line of silicone round the hem to keep the ankles in place. Our size 10 model was sent a small to test, and these fitted her 5'4" frame well.
Sizes available: XS - XXL
Colour options: Black with white/red trim (pictured), Black with Pink trim, Plain Black
Price: RRP £85 (Wiggle = £76.50)
More information: Sportful
[part title="Assos ll.Uma.6 S5 women's bib leggings"]
Assos sent us their ll.Uma.6 S5 women's bib leggings to include in our bib tight round up, and my word - where do we start?
The thought that has gone into which fabric goes where is phenomenal. From top to toe, every material has been purposefully chosen for maximum comfort and performance.
There's thin smooth neoprene type material used on the bib leggings collar loop. Down the back of the single bib strap, breathable mesh fabric is featured to keep you cool when working hard in the saddle. Round the waist and hips, you're kept warm with lycra that's backed with soft fleecy material. Side panels run from the waist to the knee, constructed from similar airblock material found on Assos' long sleeve jersey. This will keep your thighs warm from the elements. Even your feet are thought about, with smooth lycra loops to hook your tootsies through, ensuring you're sealed up and weather proof.
Admittedly, off the bike, the single bib-strap is tight round the neck and shoulders, however once we tried these on the bike, leaning over the handlebars, the fit loosened and less pressure was felt in the shoulders. The chamois pad is similar to that on the shorts, thick and dense with a hexagonal design.
Included in the box is an array of goodies; tester size packets of chamois cream, skin repair gel, active wear cleanser detergent and a wash bag to pop your bib tights in before they go into the machine.
Sizes available: XS (UK size 6), S (8), M (10), L (12), XL (14)
The sizes bracketed are our estimated guide for readers.
Colour options: Black, Blue, Red, or White (we tested black)
More information: Assos
[part title="Rapha 2013 Women's Classic Women's Winter Tights"]
Another new addition to the Rapha women's winter ensemble, these bibs feel incredibly luxurious; soft, stretchy and light weight. Constructed from Italian Thermoroubaix material, it's hard to explain just how soft these feel - you'll just have to purchase a pair to see what we mean! Brushed fleece is used on the inside to help with insulation but also to be soft against your skin.
The first noticeable feature is the chamois pad, or even, the lack of it. Rapha have created these bib leggings to be worn over padded cycling shorts - this is the same situation for the men as well.
Other key notable features include; a roomy zipped pocket on the rear, super soft foot loops, with silicone in a line round the inside of each hem at the bottom of the legs. The full length cam lock zipper stops just above the tummy button and the rear of the bib is constructed of mesh fabric to aid ventilation.
Sizes available: XXS - XL
Colour options: Black and hi-viz pink OR Black and white
Price: RRP £170
More information: Rapha