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Summer is very quickly fading into a distant memory for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere and, as such, our best winter bib tights are being dragged out of hiding alongside the rest of our winter cycling gear, while our summer kit is going into hibernation for the winter ahead.
Thankfully, things have come a long way since the early days of bib-tight material technology, and nowadays we have luxuriously soft, fleece-lined fabrics and Windstopper materials that keep the cold out without limiting your range of motion. And sure, the best cycling shorts paired with leg warmers can get you through a lot of cold rides, but a good set of winter bib tights will make the experience exponentially more enjoyable. As a result, bib tights are a mainstay for many a cyclist's winter wardrobe.
However, the best winter bib tights for you might completely ruin someone else's ride, so don't just buy any bib tights thinking they all do the same job.
They might all be designed to be worn when the temperature drops, but there are many different types of winter bib tights, including different material weights, weatherproofing treatments and chamois pads, and then there are those without a chamois altogether, which are designed to be worn over your best cycling shorts.
You can easily spend a fortune on a set of the best winter bib tights, and with all the different intended uses catered for, you’d hate to drop big money on a set designed to handle the brutal cold of winter in North Dakota if you live in Northern Spain, and vice versa.
Read on for a rundown of our pick the best bib tights for winter cycling, and if you're after a bit of advice on how to choose the right pair for you, head to the bottom for our guide on how to choose the best winter bib tights.
Best winter bib tights available today
Front-facing freezing-weather protection with a fleeced interior
Retail price: £234 / $299 / AU$359 / €TBC | Chamois: Yes | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: No | Reflective: Yes
Velocio's Zero Bib tights are made from a combination of weatherproof materials at the front and more breathable materials at the rear to create a product designed to battle freezing temperatures. The front-facing panels are made using a material that is both windproof and water-resistant, while the rear uses a DWR coated ThermoRoubaix Power, which is fleece backed for added warmth.
While the back panel could offer a little extra warmth, the overall performance is exceptional, keeping us warm and comfortable on multi-hour rides in all conditions. Reflective panels extend halfway up the calves for increased low-light visibility, backed up by a couple of small reflective Velocio logos. The legs also feature a stirrup strap to keep them in place.
Available in men's and women's cuts, they get a gender-specific chamois that is proprietary to Velocio but designed in conjunction with chamois experts, Cytech. The women's version sees Velocio's FlyFree back, which allows for nature breaks without also having to take off all your layers, while the low-cut front offers a similar solution for men.
Castelli Tutto Nano bib tights
Soft and warm bib tights that shed a surprising amount of rain
Retail price: £140 / $164.99 / AU$239 / €139.95 | Chamois: Yes | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: Yes | Reflective: Yes
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 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.
dhb Classic Thermal bib tights
Winter bib tights that don't cost a bundle
Retail price: £70 / $90 / AU$120 / €75 | Chamois: Yes | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: No | Reflective: Yes
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.
Rapha Cargo Winter bib tights
Best winter bib tights for the over-packer
Retail price: £240 / $325 / AU$410 / €285 | Chamois: Yes | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: Yes | Reflective: Yes
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's a pocket on the right leg and lower back 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.
Pearl Izumi AmFib bib tights
Ideal for wet winter riding
Retail price: £149.99 / $200 / AU$TBC / €199.95 | Chamois: Yes | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: Yes | Reflective: Yes
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 (Durable Water Repellent) 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 to help with visibility when you're racing the sun home, although these only cover a small portion of the calf, unlike the full-panel reflectivity from Rapha and Velocio.
Castelli Sorpasso RoS bib tights
There is a reason that these are some of Castelli's best-selling tights
Retail price: £170 / $209.99 / AU$289 / €169.95 | Chamois: Yes | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: Yes | Reflective: Yes
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 NanoFlex Xtra Dry fabric across the front panel, over the thighs, and at the rear to increase water resistance.
Castelli rates them for use down to freezing (0C/32F), which is about as cold as many cyclists will go before turning to the indoor trainer, but in our experience, they can go a few degrees cooler without issue. They benefit from the Progetto X2 Air pad, which almost everyone seems to get on with, and the layflat bib straps stay comfortable as you pile on the layers.
They do size up smaller than average, so we recommend sizing up, and our only gripe is that the Castelli logos are printed on and very quickly peel off. This doesn't affect their otherwise exceptional performance in any way, though.
Endura Pro SL II bib tights
Some of the most comfortable bib tights money can buy, just watch the sizing
Retail price (with pad): £169.99 / $229.99 / AU$319.99 / €199.99 | Chamois: Yes (available without) | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: No | Reflective: Yes
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 II bib tights is made from ThermoRoubaix fabric with a plush brushed interior, while the outside gets a DWR treatment to stave of the elements, and on the front, Endura has added windproof panels in critical areas to ensure the cold doesn't make its way inside. However, it sets itself apart by using a DWR-M treatment, free from PFC (per-fluorinated chemicals), which are man-made and harmful to the environment.
Endura offers the Pro SL II bib tights with three widths of its 700-series chamois to tailor the fit to your sit bones and saddle. On the back, you'll find reflective stripes on the calves for added lowlight visibility. There are no ankle zippers, but there is one front zipper to make nature breaks a bit less awkward.
Gore Wear C3 Windstopper bib tights
Best for those with a shorter or longer than average torso
Retail price: £159.99 / $200 / AU$239.99 / €159.95 | Chamois: Yes | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: Yes | Reflective: Yes
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 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's more, the C3 is one of very few bib tights to offer adjustable straps, so those with short or long torsos will benefit from perfectly fitting straps.
Assos Equipe RS S9 Winter bib tights
Best money-no-object winter bib tights
Retail price: £335.00 / $439.00 / AU$tbc / €380.00 | Chamois: Yes | Bib or waist: Bib | Ankle zipper: Yes | Reflective: Yes
If you're looking for a statement piece this winter, or something to truly motivate you to get outside when the weather is foul, then Assos' Equipe RS S9 bib tights are sure to do that, if for no other reason than to get your money's worth.
These bib tights feature all of Assos' top-tier tech, including a combination of Sphere Ultra and Sphere Medium fabrics, which are used strategically to offer maximum weatherproofing, insulation and breathability wherever it's needed most.
They feature the A-Lock bib strap design, which anchors lower down to support and stabilise the pelvis and lower back. They also come with a waterproof panel around the full circumference of the lower half of the legs, to keep the road spray at bay, and it doubles up as a safety measure with its reflectivity.
How to choose the best winter bib tights for you
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.
What's best for cycling, waist tights or bib tights?
Just like standard shorts are available in waist or bib style, so are winter tights. We prefer the latter because they're less likely to ride 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 the best winter cycling jackets have perfected the art of combining windproofing with breathability, and the best waterproof cycling jackets have nailed keeping the water out at all costs, the best winter 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 three-layer Gore-Tex wouldn’t be all that comfortable, and a pair made from Shakedry wouldn't have enough flexibility, so would likely rip in the first ride.
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 - Durable Water Repellent - 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.
How much insulation do my bib tights need?
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.
It's probably a statement of the obvious, but the thicker this material, the warmer your bib tights are likely to be, and to make it easier to comprehend, almost all brands stipulate a recommended temperature range for their bib tights. Match this temperature range with the conditions you're likely to ride in most often to find the right material weight for you.
Should I buy bib tights with or without a chamois pad?
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 argument for with-chamois is that you’re wearing fewer things and there are less grippers, seams and changes in fabric to rub, chafe, bunch, or cause other discomforts.
However, if you go chamois-free, you can wear your summer bib shorts beneath, which means, in addition to the second layer of insulating material, your tights don't need to be washed after every use (assuming they don't get caked in mud, of course), and you can cycle your bib shorts through the washing machine instead preventing you from needing to invest in quite so many pairs of bib tights.
Should I buy bib tights with zippers?
Many bib tights will have zippers at the ankles and some at the stomach. These are simply to assist with getting the bib tights on and off — which they do.
Bear in mind that zippers can also cause some discomfort or chafing if they are poorly placed, so bear this in mind if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation, but it's worth noting that the zipper will usually sit on top of another layer of clothing - your socks or your base layer, depending on where it's placed.
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