Why do you need winter bib tights?
16 december 2021
By Nicki Giles
Cyclists count on bib tights for warmth, comfort, breathability and weather proofing. Here’s why bib tights are unbeatable for maximising your winter ride tally.
If you love the quiet, unspoiled vistas that reward those committed enough to cycle year-round or are determined that this year you will be fit, motivated and ready to pounce on every opportunity that spring offers up, you need a reliable bib tight to keep you riding.
Bib tights are a cyclist’s best friend because, provided they’re constructed thoughtfully, from the right materials, they will offer greater core warmth, compatibility with winter jackets, and all-day comfort and protection than shorts or regular tights ever could.
So, when the drizzle sets in, when the temperature drops below zero or the wind is whipping like a knife, bib tights are the layer you need to fight the elements and help regulate the temperature of your legs, so that you can carry on riding regardless of the weather.
Winter warmth from bib tights
Some cycling shorts and tights do have high, elasticated waists to try and prevent your back being exposed as you lean forward or stand up on the pedals, but the best lower body garments can’t compete with bib tights when it comes to averting chinks in your protective winter armour.
As well, bib straps offer the chance to add a whole bolt of extra material that will cover your lower thorax and keep your kidneys warm, while keeping the whole pulled taught for an excellent fit, without excess material, and ensuring your diaphragmatic breathing remains unrestricted.
Adding to the warmth is the fact that tights cover the full leg, without any need to pull on and arranging extra garments, such as leg warmers, the way you would with shorts.
Pairing bibs with your layers
Straps not only eliminate the need for tucking in jerseys or hitching waistbands to ensure your back and tum are shielded from the elements, they also integrate beautifully with your layering system. That bit of extra core warmth can make the difference between needing an outer layer or not on a dry winter day.
Plus, many bib straps are constructed from light, highly breathable mesh, so you’ll stay cool during the more strenuous sections of your route, while remaining warm at rest stops, on downhills or during periods of low effort due to efficient wicking.
Built for glove-like fit and comfort
As previously mentioned, having no waistband the way shorts or standard tights do means exceptional freedom and airflow round your middle. Since bib straps are wide and held in place by a good fit over the shoulders, rather than added elastic, they are supremely comfortable to wear.
They also hold the entire garment nicely in place, which means that unlike with tights or shorts, you can be sure your chamois will stand firm when you put some welly behind your pedalling or switch from crouching to rising out of the saddle, so your nether regions will be cushioned evenly all day long.
Another characteristic of bib tights that ramps up the comfort levels is the fact that, in order to achieve an all-over fit, they are constructed from a number of different panels, typically with flat locked seams. This means you get a great fit, a freedom of movement not always offered by stretchy garments, and often pre-shaped areas over the knees to reinforce the feeling of total liberty.
High-tech materials make performance bib tights
For warmth, any bib tight claiming to be for winter use will have a fleecy inner layer to trap heat as standard, but those meant for use in the extremes of winter will tend to be slightly thicker, without being bulky, and have a brushed Roubaix lining.
The fact that bib tights are made of several panels of material means that the panels in more tender or exposed areas, such as the knees, thighs and lower back, can be upgraded or doubled-up for a bit of extra protection.
Water repellent materials, with different levels of DWR coating, can be used to protect against all but hard, sustained rain showers, without sacrificing breathability. They may also be used to fend off road spray. Windproof fabrics, meanwhile, will most commonly be centred at the front of the bibs, to offer protection from gusts.
Finally, wise cyclists will consider the level of reflectivity offered by their bib tight in the form of logos, piping and purpose-built panels. This is because even when you don’t plan to ride at night, unexpected happenings can extend your ride past dusk. And, of course, dressing to stand out against the inky blackness is standard for any winter commute.
Two Sportful bib tights made for freezing conditions
Best bib tight for cold but clear days
The Sportful Neo Bib Tight is one of the brand’s most versatile winter bib tights, since it achieves an excellent balance between ventilation and insulation. It has mesh straps to let air circulate and integrate seamlessly with protective layers when needed and is made from Sportful’s own ThermoDrytex Plus brushed fabric, which wicks sweat expertly.
The material is cosy and stretchy besides, so that the bib tight will fit well and wrap you in comfort at temperatures from 10-0˚ C, especially as it uses flat-lock stitching and is built around the high-calibre Comfort Pro seat pad.
This has varied thicknesses of padding and anatomical shaping to ensure cushioning is thickest where it’s most needed. It moves with the body and has a soft upper layer and antibacterial treatment to ensure you can happily ride all day. Then, when night falls, the reflective detailing on the bib tight will keep you safe.
Best bib tight for riding whatever the weather
As the thermometer falls and the weather deteriorates, the Sportful Infinium Bib Tight will let you take on whatever the winter throws at you. It’s made from super-tough, 100% windproof GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ material, which is also practically waterproof and sure to keep you dry in all but the longest, strongest rain dumps. Road spray from your wheels, meanwhile, will glance right off it.
Best of all, even as it locks in your body heat to keep you toasty warm, this bib tight will let sweat disperse quickly and easily, especially through its stretchy, comfortable straps, so you’ll feel dry and keep warm even at rest stops or while you’re speeding downhill.
The BodyFit Pro Seat Pad is especially designed to cushion your nether regions for the long haul, with all the same great features as the Comfort Pro Pad, bolstered by added attention to graduated padding and the elimination of seams for supreme luxury. Add in reflective detailing to guard you on night rides, and you have a formidable winter tight.