One of the best chamois options available and it's wrapped in a bib tight with fabrics that are unique. Instead of insulation, POC offers thin materials and a windproof design.
- - Chamois uses silicone inserts and works well for long rides
- - Completely windproof design
- - Windproof material comes up high on the torso
- - Loose from the knee down
Almost every bib tight design on the market is similar. There's nuance, of course, and that's why some of them make our list of the best winter bib tights for cycling in the cold and some don't. The broad strokes are very similar though: it's unusual to find something that's totally different and that's what the POC Thermal VPDs bib tights represent. Different doesn't necessarily mean better though, so to figure out how the different design worked, we've put them to the test.
Keep reading to see what we thought worked and what did not. We have suggestions about when it makes sense to choose this solution from POC and how they might fit into your cycling wardrobe.
Design and aesthetics
Most bib tights use a simple construction and some variation of a brushed back fabric, then depending on the focus, there might then be additional features to deal with wind or rain. These POC VPDs Thermal Bib tights are totally different, and the first place you notice this is in the fabric.
Instead of a brushed-back Roubaix fabric, POC uses a thin fabric that's smooth on both sides, and it's less dense in the low back, back of the thighs, and back of the knees. These areas lack specific wind protection and this is where excess heat and moisture is able to get out. You can think of it as covering the rear of the bibs although it's actually a very complex pattern.
There are seventeen panels that come together to form the POC VPDs Thermal Bib tights and that doesn't even count the extra material that forms the straps. By using so many panels POC has the opportunity to use the exact material in the area it wants and to pre-shape the garment. While the rear of the tights has a fabric that easily breathes, the front is a wind-blocking fabric. Starting at the ankle there's a wide gripper panel to help keep the bottom in place. As you move up, the calf has a front and a rear panel both utilising the wind-blocking fabric: the difference in feel is subtle but you can detect it with your fingers.
At the knees, you'll find another two panels. The front is the wind blocker again while the rear is the more breathable fabric and it's significantly shorter, which pre-curves the bend in the knee. Although every seam is a flatlock stitch, there is, wisely, no seam directly behind the knee in the area that bends.
Above the knee, the already complex pattern gets even more complex with the addition of a third panel at the sides. There's still a wind-blocking front and a breathable rear but now there's also a strip at the outside of the thigh, which also uses the wind-blocking fabric. Both the front and side wind-blocking panels continue to the top of the waist, while in the rear, above the chamois panels, there is one more breathable panel connecting the two sides across the low back.
The mesh that makes up the straps starts nice and high up the torso. If your jacket moves around, there's enough room to keep the lower torso protected from cold. The straps themselves use two pieces of the same fabric and join near the top of the shoulders. There's very little density to the mesh but the addition of a folded edge keeps enough structure that they don't roll up when you're putting them on.
Inside the POC Thermal VPDs bib tight is where you'll find the chamois that gives the bibs their name. There's Elastic Interface branding with a 3D sculpted design, and most of it is 2mm thick and only a light padding. There are two main panels that travel from the perineum to the sit bones on either side and utilise silicone in the most important areas. It's not a large pad but it's got the necessary density where it's needed.
My absolute favourite thing about the POC Thermal VPDs bib tights is the chamois. In the spots you need the most protection, POC uses a silicone insert. It's not the kind of waterbed-like silicone chamois you might find in cheap bibs but instead, it's essentially unnoticeable. The benefit is that right under your sit bone it's impossible to fully compress the pad.
To test how well this approach worked, I took these out for 110 miles on a route that RideWithGPS reports as 38-per cent gravel. At the end of a day like that, I'm always tired but what I look for in a good chamois is a lack of tenderness. If it's lacking, I'll start to get sore around 60 miles and by the end of the ride, I'm standing while coasting then sore for days after. The POC chamois was a huge success. Not only was I not bruised or tender, but I wasn't even all that sore after a little under eight hours of riding.
In terms of the rest of the construction, it's a very unique take on the needs of cold weather riding. The material is thin and lacks an insulative layer. Instead, you get a wind-blocking layer that is closer to a hard shell than most other bib tights. For an overcast day ranging from 51F/10.5C up to 56F/13.3C and a short period of light rain, these were perfect.
I paired the POC bib tights with a POC thermal cap, Sportful Bodyfit Pro long sleeve jersey, Gore C5 Thermo jersey, Castelli Idro Pro 2 jacket, and Castelli Perfetto Ros gloves. When it was warmer, I shed the hat and relied on the POC Ventral Tempus Spin helmet alone. During the coldest parts of the day, I was somewhat cold but putting the hat back on solved it. I felt like I could have shed layers and been comfortable on a warmer day but this was about as low as I would have wanted to use these bibs.
The fit I found true to expectations. I normally wear a small and a small was right in these as well. Below the knee, I did find them to be a bit loose though. I'm still happy to wear them but the calf and ankle isn't a perfect fit on me.
A great chamois on a pair of bib tights goes a long way, so if I can ride for eight hours and not feel sore, I'm willing to put up with a lot of other concessions. The POC Thermal VPDs bib tights back up the excellent chamois with a well thought out design that fills a hole in the market.
When you have wind protection, you can stand for a lot less insulation and that's the direction POC has gone. The lower leg section isn't perfect for me but despite that small negative they won't be leaving my rotation anytime soon. If the weather is colder, or wetter, I'll expect to add layers and continue to take advantage of the top of the line chamois.
Tech Specifications: POC VPDs Thermal Bib tights
- Price: £230 / $200 / €250
- Available Colours: Uranium Black
- Weight: 248g size small
- Size availability: XS-XXL
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