With improvements in fabric production and garment technology, it's now possible to get some really decent road cycling kit without blowing your budget. British cycling retailer Evans Cycles got in on the act several years ago with its own FWE range of cycling kit and we've taken a closer look at its women's thermal bib tights.
- Buyer's guide to women's bib shorts
- Women's cycling reviews, products, advice and more on BikeRadar Women
The FWE range is Evans Cycles' in-house brand, covering everything from clothes to cycling accessories, lights, tools and more.
Expanded for 2017, the women's FWE clothing range includes shorts, bib tights, long and short-sleeved jerseys, waterproof jackets — and even caps if you fancy going for a top-to-toe look. Evans has opted for plain block colours rather than patterns, with the majority of the women's range available in either black, turquoise, blue or coral.
Overall, the kit is competitively priced and is similar in terms of technical fabrics, cut and performance to other products at a similar price point currently available on the market. However, there were a few features of the thermal bib tights that made it into the negative column.
FWE Women's Coldharbour Thermal Padded Bib Tights
I'll start with the positives.
Firstly, the thermal fabric is warm and copes well with rides down to about two or three degrees Celsius. Zips at the ankle combined with a wide, fine elasticated cuff keep the leg securely in place and the reflective details on the ankle and rear are well placed and add a degree of visibility — though the top part of the rear reflective stripe is covered when wearing a jersey or jacket.
Evans has opted for a 'jacket' style bib strap orientation, with a higher back with shoulder straps that come down to the outer sides of the bust. These straps are made from a stretch mesh that sits comfortably against the skin and doesn't pull on the shoulders.
While the lycra is firm and supportive, it's almost too stiff, and I personally felt there wasn't enough stretch to get the fit completely comfortable. This was also true of the seams joining the various panels, which made getting the bibs on a bit of a dance.
Once on, the bibs felt like they weren't quite long enough in the upper leg section with the seam below the knee preventing the waist sitting in the right place — although it's worth noting that I do have long legs. When in position on the bike however, the bibs felt good for the most part, with — bar the chamois — no rubbing, chafing, pressure points or otherwise.
Back to that chamois. The pad part itself is comfortable in the undercarriage area, and is about medium thickness. However, the edge of chamois — and I can't work out if it's the stitching or the actual edge of the pad material — feels rough and you can feel it rubbing after about an hour of riding. In short, while the bibs are fine for shortish rides, I wouldn't want to embark upon several hours in the saddle because of the rubbing from the chamois pad, which is very definitely located in an area where you don't want to experience chafing. It's a shame, because apart from that fairly major drawback these bib tights are good value for money.
FWE Coldharbour bib tights sizing and availability
The tights come in sizes XS to XL, and I'd say the size guide listed on the Evans Cycles website is correct, with a medium measuring up to a UK12–14, and a large equating to a UK14–16.
The tights are currently retailing with 20 percent off.