The best winter bib tights are a staple of winter cycling. They keep you warm and comfortable as you put in the winter base miles – that’s if you haven’t decided to take to the turbo trainer until the weather improves.
It’s surprising how many riders you see out in shorts when there’s a nip in the air or even when there’s snow on the ground. Maybe they’re hardier than we are, but there are good reasons to keep your legs covered when it’s frigid outside, even if you don’t feel the cold.
For starters, your muscles will work better when they’re kept warm and you’ll be less prone to injury. Plus, if you do end up by the roadside with a mechanical you can soon get very cold if you’ve worked up a sweat and are suddenly not moving. Rain and wheel spray from damp roads can cool you down quickly too.
So a quality pair of bib tights, along with the full winter regalia of a winter cycling jacket, winter cycling shoes or overshoes, a quality baselayer and maybe a cap should be on your kit list for your winter rides. It may sound like a lot, but the best winter cycling clothing will pay for itself in spades.
Here’s our pick of the best winter bib tights for cycling, which we’ve reviewed and rated. We’ve also included our pick of the best bib knickers, which finish halfway down the calf and are suitable for slightly milder conditions.
Head to the bottom of the page for your winter bib tights buyer’s guide, which takes you through everything you should look for in this essential piece of winter kit.
Best winter bib tights 2023
Altura Icon Thermal Bib Tights
- £95 (as tested)
- Thick, insulating, DWR-coated fabric
- Hip stash pocket will hold a phone or energy bar
The Icon Thermal Bib Tights use the same comfy Icon pad as the brand’s top-end summer shorts, but the tights’ main material is a weighty (260gsm) thermal, brushed-back fabric.
There’s a durable water repellent (DWR) coating to keep road spray and light rain at bay, and keep you warm with it.
The thermal fabric extends to high up your midriff for great protection against the wind.
Long zips at the ankles make them easy to get on and off and a subtle reflective print on the calves and thighs provides welcome visibility.
A neat hip-stash pocket fits an energy bar or phone. Overall, the Icons are an excellent winter bib that, at this price, many rival brands struggle to match.
Café Du Cycliste Marie Bib Tights
- £235 / $305 / AU$408 / €240 (as tested)
- Warm, supple tights that don’t bunch
- Quality pad and excellent leg grippers
The water-repellant Café du Cycliste Marie Winter Cycling Tights are the finest tights our tester had ever tried.
The materials combine warmth with suppleness particularly well, which means they avoid the compromises made in the pedal stroke of other thicker, more bunchy bib tights.
Café du Cycliste uses a quality Cytech Elastic Interface seat pad, that’s good for long-distance rides and, like many winter bib tights, they’re cut high at the front for extra warmth. Substantial leg grippers help keep everything in place.
There’s a choice of four colours, so you don’t need to stick with the winter-standard black.
Castelli Tutto Nano Bib Tights
- £160 / $179.99 / AU$249 / €139.95 (as tested)
- Good spray and rain resistance
- Quality Kiss Air2 seat pad provides all-day comfort
On wet race days, Castelli has led the way in the pro peloton and the Tutto Nano bibs live up to this reputation. The Nano Flex 3G fabric is soft and warm without feeling overly bulky.
A DWR treatment provides good spray and rain protection. We loved the stylish reflective ankle cuffs.
There’s a Kiss Air2 seat pad that, although not as thick as some, is nevertheless comfortable and we had no issues with it, even on the longest days.
With a high level of breathability, these tights are perfect for all winter conditions, but the cut is small and fitted, so size up.
Endura FS260-Pro Thermo Bibtights II
- £109.99 (as tested)
- Great on-bike fit and insulation
- Pad-free option also available
In colder and less clement weather, Endura’s bibs offer great protection.
Their Thermoroubaix fabric provides insulation, while a water-resistant treatment sees rain roll off in all but the worst conditions.
The ergonomically cut, four-way stretch panels ensure a top fit and the brushed inner is cosy. Plus, the high front and rear brushed panels help with midriff insulation.
Inside, the 600 Series variable profile pad works superbly however long you’re in the saddle. These bibs are available without a pad too, if you prefer to wear your tights over summer shorts.
Endura FS260-Pro Thermo Women’s Tights
- £99.99 / $129.99 / €104.99 (as tested)
- Warm, water-resistant Thermoroubaix fabric
- Plenty of reflective details to up your visibility
The women’s FS260-Pro Thermo waist tights deliver impressive windproofing, water resistance via a DWR coating and a Thermoroubaix thermal lining that kept our tester’s legs toasty on chilly night rides.
There are sizeable reflective details and a super-comfortable chamois with 3D multi-density stretch and incorporating Silver Dry antibacterial technology. We’d forgo the ankle zips for more potential comfort, though.
Gore Wear C5 Thermo Bib Tights+
- £120 / $170 / €159.95 (as tested)
- Comfortable seat pad’s shape mimics a channelled saddle
- Windproof cup to front of pad keeps out cold breezes
The Gore C5 Thermo Bib Tights+ use Gore’s Cup Technology to protect your sensitive areas.
The Gore-designed pad is made by market-leading pad specialist Elastic Interface and has an angular shape that mimics the shape of a channelled saddle, which on the bike is comfort personified.
The full legs and torso section have a DWR treatment, while the groin and rear panels use a thicker water- and abrasion-resistant fabric. The legs consist of multiple panels with an articulated cut that works well on the bike.
The cuffs don’t have zips, instead relying on the stretch of the material for fit. For visibility on the road, we appreciate the long 240mm triangular reflective print panels on the back three-quarters of the calves.
7Mesh MK3 Cargo Bib Tight
- £200 / $250 / €230 (as tested)
- Two thigh and three rear pockets
- Leg grippers trimmable to your leg length
7Mesh’s British Columbia roots mean its designers know a thing or two about inclement conditions. The men’s MK3 Cargo Bib Tights are ideal for big days out in cool weather.
The ‘cargo’ refers to the twin thigh pockets (great for empty gel packets!) and three rear pockets at the base of the Y-shaped bibs. Inside, there’s a thick multi-density pad, which is ideal for an all-day pair of tights.
The articulated legs with preformed knee shaping are simply brilliant. Although they can look a little baggy at the knee when standing, they fit like a second skin when you’re pedalling.
The leg hems are laser cut from non-fraying material and 7Mesh stitches in bar-markers so you can trim the length to suit.
Altura Firestorm bib tights
- £89.99 (as tested)
- Dark reflectives up visibility without being garish
- High midriff panel keeps out the cold
The Firestorm bib tights have everything we’d look for in a pair of winter longs: close-fitting cuffs with bonded polymer grippers, thick Roubaix-like fleece fabric for excellent warmth and a high-midriff panel on the front to keep chills at bay.
The reflective print panels on the calves also wrap around to the front cuff. We’d have liked a bit of reflectivity higher up, but when combined into an outfit, it works harmoniously to keep you warm, comfortable and seen when it’s dark.
Castelli Sorpasso RoS Bib Tights
- £165 / $239.99/ AU$330 / €189.95 (as tested)
- Water-repellent Nano Flex fabric
- Comfortable, low-bulk seat pad
The Sorpasso tights are a favourite for changeable conditions. They utilise Castelli’s third-generation Nano Flex fabric, which does an excellent job of beading road spray and rain, keeping you comfortably dry for a few hours.
The rear uses the X-Dry version of Nano Flex, which has a coarser surface to help grip the saddle and is abrasion resistant.
The Progetto-X pad is comfortable but not bulky. The shaping of the legs adds freedom and keeping seams away from areas of potential chafing is a neat touch.
The full bib and legs are fleece-lined to beat the chills. The 19cm zippers on the ankle have a 3cm wide reflective strip for visibility. Size up one from normal though.
Shimano Beaufort Bib Tights
- £99.99 / €129.95 (as tested)
- Warm mid-weight tights
- Non-flashy pad does a good job
Shimano’s Beaufort tights are extremely warm mid-weight bibs. They combine lighter windproof panels up front that feature a DWR treatment for maximum protection with high-insulating brushed rear panels.
Small, airy reflective panels on the calves help with breathability but do let water in, although we liked the ankle cuffs that seal well without using zips.
Inside, the Italian-made pad isn’t as intricate as some but does a solid job, with Shimano rating it for medium to long rides.
Specialized RBX Comp Thermal Bib Tights
- £100 / $150 / AU$180 / €110 (as tested)
- Warm lower-body fabric paired with lighter top half
- Quality long-distance seat pad
For those long, slow winter rides when the temperatures fall to zero or lower, these durable bib tights come into their own.
The RBX Comp bibs use a fitted thermo fabric that does a top job of keeping the chill out. A lighter version of the fabric adds upper-body insulation without being overly sweaty.
The Lombardia fleece material is also water resistant and will see you comfortably through a short shower.
The panelled design delivers long ride comfort, as does the chamois with its variable-density design that places padding perfectly around the sit bones.
Stolen Goat Orkaan ¾ Bib Tights
- £120 (as tested)
- Quality tights for warmer spring/autumn days at a budget price
- Large pocket for ride essentials
The Orkaan ¾ Bib Tights use a fleeced Tempest fabric that is water-resistant and keeps out the wind. The back section is fleece-lined, as are the legs of the tights, ideal for cooler days on the bike.
The ‘shorts’ section extends way beyond the waist and sits just below your rib cage, providing vital warmth and stability to your core.
We like that Stolen Goat has opted for a highly elasticated leg cuff, rather than silicone grippers, because they don’t slip or ride up even when you’re wet through.
There’s also a large Pixel 100 panel on the rear, which adds superb rear visibility to comfort and performance.
Triban RC500 Bib Tights
- £59.99 (as tested)
- Quality tights for warmer spring/autumn days at a budget price
- Large pocket for ride essentials
These three-quarter length bibs are ideal for warmer winter days and autumn/spring duties, thanks to a thicker yet lightweight fabric that’s soft against the skin.
The panelled design works well and the hemless leg ends stay in place.
While the seat pad feels big off the bike, it’s comfortable when pedalling. This is kept in place with the mesh-upper bibs that do a solid job, while the large, easy-access thigh pocket is ideal for ride essentials.
Buyer’s guide to winter bib tights: what to look for
Above all other considerations, winter bib tights are about keeping you warmer. To that end, most are made of a fabric with a fleeced inner face that will trap air, even if the tights become wet.
The fabric is usually labelled roubaix, in honour of the cold-weather destination, but you’ll see variants labelled ‘superroubaix’ or ‘thermoroubaix’, which are slightly thicker versions of the same thing and so may be a little warmer. Some brands have their own proprietary variants of the same idea, such as Castelli’s Thermoflex.
Your worst enemy in the winter may be the cold, but a close second is the wet. Winter roads are often damp even if it’s not actively raining and your bib tights are directly in the line of fire for wheelspray from both the front and rear wheel.
So many of the best winter cycling bib tights are built to be water resistant too. That usually means a durable water resistant (DWR) surface coating that repels water, which is what gives you that nice beady-up feature when you run a tap over them.
This does tend to wear off over time or stop being effective as the material gets dirty. Reproofing using a specialist cleaning and reproofing product can often restore water resistance.
Some winter cycling tights may include one or more waterproof panels, particularly on the front side of the lower leg. These usually feature a breathable membrane. The membrane does make the fabric stiffer and less stretchy though, which can be uncomfortable, so tights aren’t usually made fully waterproof.
Third on the list of winter cycling demons is windchill. Again, it can quickly make winter cycling uncomfortable, so the best winter bib tights usually include some wind protection.
That may come from a tightly woven fabric, but a windproof membrane is more effective. Again, a membrane is likely to adversely affect fit and comfort though, so if there are windproof panels they’ll probably be used sparingly.
As with the best cycling shorts for summer riding, the quality of your seat pad is fundamental to how comfortable you will be when riding.
The good news is that most brands fit their best winter bib tights with exactly the same seat pad as used in their summer shorts. They will have been equally precise about where it sits when you’re riding, so there’s no reason why you should be less comfortable in the winter than in summer.
In fact, since you’re likely to be less hot and sweaty, you may even be more comfortable in your winter tights.
Bibs and straps
Another component of your winter bib tights where the same considerations apply as for summer bib shorts is the upper body straps. As with summer bib shorts, these are often made of mesh, although other brands use the same fleeced fabric as for the lower body.
Even if it’s cold out, with three or more layers on your back, it can get sweaty. If that’s something that affects you, look for a mesh upper. If you prefer more insulation, go for a fleece fabric back.
Like summer bib shorts, straps can be hemmed or lay flat hemless. If you find hems uncomfortable, look for the latter.
Women’s winter bib tights may have a halter or other cunning design to help make rest stops easier. Waist tights are also a popular option for women, to avoid the problem altogether.
Fit around the stomach
Another area where approaches differ is the fit of the front of the waist. Most winter bib tights have a higher cut here than summer bib shorts, so you get an extra layer of fabric and extra overlap with your top-half clothing to help keep you warmer.
Some brands take this to extremes and you may find a short zip is included to help with comfort breaks.
Ankle cuffs are another area where there are different designs. Many winter bib tights have short zips at the ankles to help with getting them on and off. These can become uncomfortable though, particularly if you’re wearing tight-fitting cycling overshoes over them.
So you’ll also find tights that just rely on the fabric’s stretch to get them over your feet. In general, this works fine, although it can be a little more of a struggle to get your tights on and off at the start and end of a ride.
If you’re riding in winter, ambient light conditions can be poor, particularly if you’re riding at the beginning and end of the day. We’d recommend using daytime running lights to up your visibility, but even so tights with a decent level of reflectives will help ensure you’re noticed.
Most brands add some reflectives to their winter bib tights, but some have more than others.
To keep your lower half warm when cycling in the winter, you have three basic options: leg warmers with bib shorts, tights over bib shorts or winter bib tights. Although tights are the simplest way to suit up and head out into the elements, the other two have their advantages.
Bib shorts with leg warmers provide a lot of versatility and many brands sell bib shorts made of fleece-backed thermal material. The best winter thermal bib shorts incorporate a seat pad that’s as high quality as a summer pad and the thermal fabric adds a lot more warmth and windproofing.
They can be paired up with a set of leg warmers, which will give you as much insulation as winter bib tights and a double layer of fabric over your thighs for extra warmth, although you may find the upper leg grippers uncomfortable.
If it’s a bit milder, you can swap to knee warmers or in very mild winter conditions just use the shorts on their own. This can be a good option for some summer days too – at least in the UK.
Padless tights over bib shorts give you advantages similar to a double fabric layer over your thighs and your lower torso. These are a good option if it’s really cold or to help keep you more comfortable if it’s wet out.
A disadvantage is you’ll end up with two sets of shoulder straps, which can feel uncomfortable and cumbersome, unless one or other garment has a waistband and is made without straps.