12 best cycling tights for winter
Don't let the chill get into your legs on the road - we put full length gear to the test
A decent pair of tights will help you shrug off the worst of the winter weather. We’ve been out in everything from sleet to sunshine, racking up miles to bring you the best on the market. Whether you’re looking for the stylish shorter “knicker” look or full-length weatherproof designs, you’ll find a pair to suit you here. Watch out for features such as ankle zips for ease of entry, and water resistant fabrics that will shed moisture before it can soak in. If you’re a fairweather rider, then the cheaper fleecy leggings will see you through the next few months in comfort.
Sportful Fiandre NoRain Bib Tights: £130, Wiggle
Sportful has tackled the curse of the soggy bottom in a unique way. Its masterstroke is a rear flap that acts like an umbrella over your seat pad and saddle, keeping your perch precipitation-free. The techy fabric means rain drops roll straight off, while the mesh upper sections stop you getting sweaty while riding hard. They’re warm, look great and have a thick, comfortable seat pad. Weather-proofed ankle zips make them easy to pull on over thick winter socks and silicone grippers hold the legs in place while pedalling.
Endura Pro SL Biblong Bibtight: £151.99, Evans Cycles
A Scottish firm should know all about inclement weather. Couple that with feedback from a top cycling team and you get something like the outstanding Pro SL. The Movistar squad will be out and about in these tip-top tights over the coming months, putting in the hard miles ahead of the new racing season. Windproof, luxuriously thick and water repellent, they will get you through anything the Great British winter throws at you. To ensure the perfect fit, Endura offers three seat pad widths, each backed by a 90-day comfort guarantee.
Pactimo Alpine RT Thermal Tights: £80, Pactimo
Bibs and shoulder straps aren’t for everyone, for a start they can be a real pain to get on and off in a hurry, but these quality leggings with a simple drawstring waist make a great alternative. There’s no pad so you’ll need to team them with a pair of padded undershorts or wear them over your favourite summer shorts. Ankle zips are a welcome feature, as are the reflective patches on the legs.
Giessegi Redoute Bibtights : £59.95, Prendas
Don’t get tongue-tied with the name, just say GSG. The Italian brand might not be on everyone’s radar but it has been around since the mid-eighties when it was set up by a former professional racer. These come in at less than £60 (yes, you read that correctly) and offer amazing value. You get a high quality seat pad, warm fleece-backed fabric and some reflective details. Simple foot stirrups rather than zipped ankles are the only money-saving measure.
Morvelo Winter Attack Stormshield Bib Tights: £135, Morvelo
Brighton’s Morvelo has come up with suitably glacial graphics to make these top-quality bibs really eye-catching. Water-repellent, windproof and toasty warm, they are everything you want from winter wear. The seat pad is designed for rides up to six hours, which should satisfy even the hardiest rider. A short zip at the front makes comfort breaks more, erm, comfortable and there are clever reinforced patches at the calves to stop overshoes rubbing the fabric.
Endura FS260-Pro Thermo Knicker: £89.99, Tredz
If you’ve spent all summer sculpting those impressive calf muscles you’ll want to show them off at any opportunity. These cut-off tights are perfect for posing on those cold and dry, late winter or early spring rides. Made from fleece-backed Thermoroubaix fabric they are long enough to keep the knees warm, with broad silicone grippers to hold the legs firmly in place. Endura’s 600 Series seat pad is a beauty and will keep you sitting pretty for mile after mile.
dhb Aeron FLT Roubaix Bib Tights: £64, Wiggle
We’ve long had a soft spot for dhb’s no-nonsense kit and the brand continue to impress with these. You get fleece-backed fabric, zipped ankles to make them easier to get on and off, and a sturdy seat pad. dhb has also incorporated its FLT – Flashlight Technology – little panels on the legs that reflect light as you pedal, making you more visible to drivers. They’re a snug fit, so you might want to go up a size if you’ve put on a bit of “insulation” since the summer. These come in plain black or there are four options with coloured panels, the brightest of which are currently on offer.
Cafe du Cycliste Adrienne 3/4 Leggings: £175, Cafe du Cycliste
Full bib tights will be a bit too warm if you’re jetting off to train in sunnier climes this winter, but these from the uber-cool French brand could be perfect. They’ll definitely turn heads when you stroll into the cafe for your mid-ride break. They’re certainly not cheap but an awful lot of work has gone into them. You get blue and grey bands on the legs, a mesh back panel to help airflow and a sumptuous seat pad.
Santini MYEgo: £105.99, Tredz
Bored with black? This could be the pair for you. They come in a classy dark blue with an intricate stitching pattern that adds to the looks without rubbing on your knees and legs. The fleecey fabric did a good job keeping us warm and they have a nice thick seat pad. They’re not water-resistant, so keep them for cold, bright days when the sun will really show off the colour and Italian design.
Rapha Brevet: £200, Rapha
“Money shouts, wealth whispers” goes the old saying, well these might be the most expensive pair in our test yet the only giveaway is the subtle black Rapha signature on the thigh. There’s a water repellent coating to keep you dry, a brushed fleece lining to keep you warm and reflective ankle bands to keep you visible – everything you’d demand at this price. We rode them in light snow and sub-zero conditions and never felt the chill. If you’re planning to do day after day of hard riding this winter, you’ll appreciate the new fast-drying seat pad too.
Gore Bike Wear Element 2.0 Thermo: £99.99, Wiggle
New research out of Texas claims that if you really want to be seen on the roads, high-visibility leggings are the way to go. It’s something to do with the movement of the lower limbs catching the eye of motorists. These lightly-fleeced tights look like they were tailor-made to tie in with the science. They’ve got bright yellow panels from the hips down to the ankles, plus reflective stripes at the back of the knees. Gore’s seat pad is top notch and stayed comfy throughout our three-hour training rides.
Sealskinz Waterproof Bib Tights: £84.50, Sealskinz
Plenty of tights in our test are water resistant, these are the only ones that are waterproof. And Sealskinz backs up its claim with a two-year guarantee. The fabric has a 10,000mm hydrostatic head – meaning they can handle the heaviest rain – and the seams are taped on the inside, just like in a mountaineering jacket. Even the ankle zips are waterproofed. A nice touch is the small pocket on the hip to hold a couple of essentials. Be warned though, they’re a close fit so you’ll probably need to size up.
The Verdict: Cycling tights for winter
While we were blown away by the value of the GSG pair, the battle for Best Buy came down to the feature-packed Endura Pro Sl and the Sportful. The Sportfuls just edged it thanks to the slightly lower price.
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