Road Cycling Clothing

Review: FWE Women’s Coldharbour Thermal Padded Bib Tights

Can you get top quality bibs for £59.99? We put these to the test...

FWE arrived on the cycling clothing scene last summer with their first capsule wardrobe consisting of bib shorts and bold coloured jerseys at wallet friendly prices. Back again for winter, they offered us a great value softshell and the Coldharbour bib tights as well as overtights and a light long sleeved jersey. 

Evans Cycles F.W.E Range Grows with Bargain Trainer and Winter Kit

It’s not often you find bib tights for cold weather riding for less than £60, so at £59.99 we were intrigued to see how these winter warmers from Evans Cycles’ in-house brand would perform. 

The details

Made from an Italian Technowarm Roubaix performance fabric, these tights are named after one of Surrey’s most famous climbs – and as a result one of the highest, coldest spots in the Southeast.

The goal was to create warmth, without sacrificing breathability – and pulling these on for their first ride I was impressed with the warmth and softness of the Roubaix fabric. Flatlock stitching ensures there’s no rubbing or chafing anywhere and an ergonomic Coolmax chamois pad is used to provide comfort over long hours in the saddle.

The top half uses a traditional ‘Y’ shape body, with a mesh fabric used from the waist upwards, designed to create extra breathability where you’ll have further layers.

Though the bibs are plain black, there is a reflective strip along the lower back which catches the rays from car headlights and complements the strip on the matching soft shell.

There are a couple of other reflective flashes on the outerside of each quad, to help ensure that you’re seen – something that becomes even more important in winter conditions where visibility is reduced.

There’s also a lovely detail in the ‘Since 1921’ logos at the ankles – which represents the heritage of FWE Evans Cycles, whose original stores opened in the early 1920s. This is a great touch, but it’s worth noting that once it’s cold enough for full winter bibs, many riders will choose to cover their feet and ankles with overshoes which would hide the design.

To make pulling the tights on and off easier, there are zips at the ankles and the puller folds back into its housing neatly so that there’s no rubbing or discomfort.

The fit

Pulling these on I was pleased to feel the fabric snap to my legs comfortably, suggesting plenty of stretch, and I didn’t feel to be sagging or bagging around the knees – a pet hate  that is common on entry level bibs. The inside is soft and brushed, which is exactly what you want when heading out into the murky outdoors.

However, I did have one issue with the fit on these tights. I initially tried a Small – and though the fit worked elsewhere, the seam at the mid-thigh cut into my legs in a pretty unattractive fashion.

The Coldharbour bibs in a Small

This clearly wasn’t right,  so I tried the Medium. There was more room at the thighs, and the issue was almost completely eliminated, though there was still a little indent if I’m being really picky. The legs were roomier, and these weren’t too big anywhere else so I would choose the Medium and ride comfortably.

On the top half, the upper body fitted well and the straps sat comfortably on my shoulders without digging or feeling overly loose in both sizes, whilst the stomach panel felt supportive without being restrictive.

I was pleased to find the correct size, but would recommend shoppers try on in store or use the click and collect service if buying online, or just go for the size you’d usually buy in mid-end cycling kit. The size chart online still refers to Spring/Summer kit and probably needs updating for the Winter range – since I’d usually wear an 8-10, my waist measures 25 inches (a hip measurement would probably be more useful here), and the FWE softshell jersey I wore the bibs with was sized X-Small.

The performance

Heading out in these bib tights I felt immediately confident in their supportive grip on my legs and was happy with the level of insulation – even on the coldest mid-winter rides.

There isn’t any reported windproofing or waterproofing, as you might find on more expensive options. However, I did get caught in a downpour wearing these and I did find they kept the worst off without soaking up every drop from the sky.

In terms of breathability, I was able to work hard in these even in milder conditions around 10 Degrees Celsius without feeling like I was suffering from overheating. On the colder end, I wore them through the recent cold snap, down to around 5 Degrees Celsius and I’m pleased to report my legs were free from the cooling effects of the conditions.

The pad is thick enough for endurance rides without being bulky, and I was comfortable on long and short stints in the saddle. I did find it was narrower than many other versions I’ve tried, though this didn’t cause any real discomfort, I personally would prefer something wider.

The verdict

Overall – these bibs provided the warmth and breathability required on winter rides, and offered comfort at great value  with some nice details around the ankles and reflective accents as well as a lovely snap-to-skin fit that you don’t often get at this price point. Ideally, I’d like to see these without a seam at the thigh – and I’d recommend sizing up or trying these in-store before buying.

Sizes Available: XS – XL

Price: £59.99

See them: here

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