Best bib tights for cycling 2024 reviewed and rated

How to find the best bib tights to keep your legs warm as the weather gets colder

Male cyclist wearing bib tights on a bike ride
(Image credit: Future)

Once the colder winter months arrive, dedicated winter bib tights become essential. Vital for keeping your lower half warm, the best bib tights will also ensure that your lower back and midriff are also protected against the cold. 

While the best cycling shorts paired with the best leg warmers and knee warmers will work on warmer winter days as soon as the temperatures drop into the low single figures then only a pair of dedicated bib tights will do.

The best bib tights come with a variety of features, each having their own merits for choosing. The simplest tights are made from a fleece-backed Roubaix-style material and are neither windproof or waterproof, while the more sophisticated options locate different types of fabric and different numbers of layers in the specific areas where they will be most effective against cold, wind and rain. 

Read on for a selection of the best bib tights we’ve tested, including some women specific offerings - and don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page for our buyer’s guide on how to choose the right bib tights for you.

The quick list

Men's bib tights

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Women's bib tights

Best bib tights: our picks

The best bib tights for cycling reviewed - Men's

Read on down the page for information about what to look for when buying your ideal bib tights. But first, here are our favorites.

MEN'S

The best all-round bib tights

Santini Adapt bib tights worn by a male cyclist

(Image credit: Future)

1.Santini Adapt bib tights

Best all-rounder

Specifications

Temperature range: 0 - 15 C
Cuff zips: No
Size range: XXS - 4XL

Reasons to buy

+
Weather resistant
+
Very warm for its weight
+
Large reflectives

Reasons to avoid

-
There are heavier duty bib tights for the foulest of deep winter weather
-
At the expensive end of the price range
-
Not as water repellent as other models at this price point

Santini’s Adapt bib tights aren’t the Italian brand’s warmest and most weatherproof bib tights for the very worst winter rides. That mantle is taken up by the Vega Dry (replete with its own integrated base layer). The Adapt bib tights aren’t Santini’s most value oriented tights, either: the Omnia bib tights boast the same recommended temperature range for less than half the price. 

No, the purpose of the Adapt is as a high performance pair of bibs that would fit the bill for the majority of your winter rides (assuming your winter is characterized by rain and sleet, rather than snow and yet more snow).

To that end, Santini has employed Polartec’s excellent (and expensive) Power Wool fabric. I was really impressed by the performance (and tech) behind this material. It employs a synthetic outer, which helps protect against the elements as well as providing a stretchy support structure for the wool - so that it stays tight against your body and doesn’t lose its shape, as pure wool is wont to do. 

The wool on the inside of the fabric provides comfort, warmth and the odor-resistant / moisture-managing properties which it’s famous for as a fabric. This combination makes the Adapt bib tights much lighter for their level of warmth than the equivalent in a fully synthetic fabric - Rapha’s Core Cargo Winter Tights are a prime example, performing to a similar temperature range, but being much more bulky. 

Those tights from Rapha are over a third cheaper, however, so it’s up to you whether this premium is a price worth paying. I would say, though, that it really does make such a difference having a lighter pair of bib tights. Whether it’s long endurance rides or the interval training of a reverse periodisation, everything just feels so much more fluid and freeing. Still not the same feeling as shorts, but much closer.

In terms of the temperature range, I’ve been happy riding at an endurance pace down to 4 degrees. Below that, the cold starts to bite - unless you up the pace to ‘tempo’ or Zone 3. I would say that, despite the wicking capabilities of the fabrics, Santini’s recommendation of 15 degrees is a little high for the top end - around 12 degrees still felt too hot in these tights.

The synthetic outer layer of the tights provides a reasonable level of wind resistance. It’s not as much as some others, such as Endura’s Pro SL II, but when the weather protection is that maxed-out, your freedom of movement becomes proportionally less fluid. Again, the Adapt bib tights are excellent in the level of protection they provide for their weight.

Like the tights themselves, the C3 chamois performs excellently in a slimline package. The multi density core sounds out the road buzz without feeling too bulky - which strikes a contrast with Castelli’s Progetto X2 Air Seamless chamois in its Free Aero RC bib tights. Although Castelli’s endurance chamois is super comfy itself, it does feel more cumbersome than Santini’s model.

As a final point of difference between Castelli’s Free Aero RC tights and Santini’s Adapt: the Adapt is warmer, but the Free Aero RC does provide better wet weather performance, shrugging off road spray and drying out more quickly. That’s really the greatest distinction I would highlight between them - which works best for you is down to personal preference.

The best bib tights for deep winter weather

Velocio Thermal Utility Bib Tight

(Image credit: Future)

2. Velocio Thermal Utility Bib Tight

Best for deep winter

Specifications

Temperature range: N/A
Cuff zips: No
Size range: XS - 4XL

Reasons to buy

+
Luxurious feeling fabric
+
Water repellent coating
+
Neat cargo pockets
+
Large reflective detailing

Reasons to avoid

-
At the more expensive end of the price range

Velocio’s Thermal Utility Bib Tights really didn’t put a foot wrong and quickly became my favorite pair. Before jumping into the details, I’ll just highlight my general preference for natural fibers - and wool, in particular. In base layers and socks, I find it so much more effective at keeping me warm and comfortable. Even in the summer, for long rides, I do much prefer the feel of a merino jersey to synthetic fabrics.

So, from the outset, I was expecting to prefer the ‘Power Wool’ fabric employed by Santini, rather than the Nylon, Polyester, Elastane blend of Velocio’s Thermal Utility tights. But, to my surprise, I did actually prefer the feel of Velocio’s Thermal Utility Bib Tights. They were just so soft, warm, and presented a more effective barrier against the elements - whilst also still being competitively light and free moving (unlike Rapha’s and Endura’s heavier-feeling products).

Just to clarify, the difference between Santini’s Adapt tights and Velocio’s Thermal Utility bib tights isn’t large. But, as you can only wear one set of tights at a time, it is clear when you do have a preference!

The Thermal Utility bib tights do run a little hot - I wasn’t comfortable wearing them above nine degrees. But they do a truly excellent job in persistent light rain, which we get an awful lot of in Wales, with the hills catching the moisture as it comes in off the sea. 

Veolcio’s Signature chamois strikes a great balance between comfort and cushioning without being overly bulky. Plus the tights in general had a particularly good second-skin fit, not being restrictive, but also not sagging or feeling loose at all either.

The cargo pockets themselves were very nicely integrated. They didn’t have an overturned flap of fabric like some mesh cargo bib shorts have - which provides extra security for keeping your kit in place, but I didn’t have any issues with my phone, tools or energy bars falling out. Then again, It wasn’t very often I was riding with that kit stored in those pockets. The main benefit for me was, when stopped and faffing around, I had two additional easy-access locations to stuff my kit - which was much appreciated.

I would say that the large reflective panels, although great for visibility, do feel a bit crinkly in your hands when pulling the tights on - but they’re imperceptible when riding, so I won’t knock a point off for that.

The best bib tights for milder winter weather

astelli Free Aero RC bibtight

(Image credit: Future)

3. Castelli Free Aero RC bibtight

Best for milder conditions

Specifications

Temperature range: 2-12 C
Cuff zips:
Size range: XS - 3XL

Reasons to buy

+
Water repellent
+
Breathable
+
Lightweight / unrestrictive

Reasons to avoid

-
The bib straps aren’t so stretchy 

Castelli’s bib tight range consists of at least 10 different models, all catering for different combinations of warmth, price and performance. 

There’s the Sorpasso and Sorpasso Wind - a little more expensive than the Free Aero RC tights and designed for the very worst winter conditions. Going the other way, Castelli's Semifreddo bib tights are designed for milder days - the sort where you’d appreciate the protection from the road spray, but don’t require insulation.

Or you could step down a tier: Castelli’s Entrata bib tights cost considerably less and offer similar insulation to the Free Aero RC bib tights - but don’t offer much in terms of water resistance. 

After much reflection, I felt that the Free Aero RC bib tights struck the best balance for this grouptest - being more affordable than both Santini’s and Velocio’s offerings, yet still going toe-to-toe with technical fabrics. 

I found the Nano Flex material to be more water repellent and faster drying than even Velocio’s DWR coated fabric - although the Free Aero RC bib tights did run a little cooler. I was comfortable with them down to about 4 degrees. Below that, I was only warm during sustained efforts - not an endurance / Zone 2 pace. 

Still, with that Nano Flex fabric, these were my favorite tights for properly wet (and slightly mild) conditions. Unlike Endura’s Pro SL tights, where weatherproofing comes at the cost of some ease of mobility, the Free Aero RC were amongst the most free-feeling tights on test. 

The Progetto X2 Air Seamless chamois provided a lot of cushion and is great for very long hours in the saddle - but I do think quite that much cushion is overkill for most winter riding. Ultra distance or full all-day epics are generally more of a summer affair - but if your masochistic streak is strong enough for a 24-hour winter race, this is prime model to choose.

Finally - and this is a bit of a theme for a lot of Castelli’s bibs - I’m not keen on the bib straps. They don’t have anywhere near as much stretch as other brands, and they’re not as soft against the skin (if you’re not wearing a baselayer). It’s not a deal breaker for me, but it would elevate the tights a little more if the straps were different.

Best value

Rapha Core Cargo Winter Tights

(Image credit: Future)

4. Rapha Core Cargo Winter Tights

Best value

Specifications

Temperature range: N/A
Cuff zips: No
Size range: XS - XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Competitive price
+
Very warm
+
Cargo pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much wet weather protection
-
More basic pockets

Rapha’s Core Cargo Winter Tights are one of the more affordable models on test and, as such, there are quite a few points of difference which can be pulled out in contrast to the bib tights at the more premium end of the price scale. 

It is useful to be aware of what you are getting/missing out on, but it’s also worth keeping things in perspective - lazer cut cargo pockets do look neater, but they are very much of the ‘nice to have’ ilk, rather than an actual necessity. Overall, I think these tights are great and well suited to riding through winter. If your budget doesn’t stretch to the higher end tights on test, it’s not that you wouldn’t be able to ride in certain conditions, just that it could be more comfortable.

Keeping that balance and those trade offs in mind, let’s jump into the details. First is the fabric. Whereas some of the tights on test boast all sorts of weather-proofing properties, the fleece-backed fabric which Rapha employs is comparatively less technical. But thanks to the thickness of the Core Cargo bib tights, it actually does a pretty good job at blocking out the wind - and it takes a while for persistent mizzle or road spray to work its way through the fabric. 

However, once the tights do get wet, they do hang on to the water for longer than the lighter and thinner models, such as the Castelli Free Aero RC and even the Santini Adapt. It’s not a show stopper, but it is less comfortable than those higher end models - which is what you would expect. On the flip side, with the thickness of the fleece, the Core Cargo Winter tights are warmer than both of those two high performance models. 

In the cold snap we had through early January, I wasn’t exactly toasty on my early morning rides into Cardiff - but then the temperature was two degrees below zero and the gentle downward slope following the river really doesn’t require much in the way of pressure on the pedals. Of course, there are deep-winter-specific bib tights - like Santini’s Vega Dry - which would keep you in greater comfort down to even lower temperatures, but those are even more expensive still.

The pad is Rapha’s Classic chamois, which I think strikes a good balance. Although it’s less dense than Rapha’s Pro Team chamois and less cushioned than the ultra-distance-specific Brevet chamois pad, both of those are likely to be surplus to requirements for winter training. Sure, base miles are long - but generally not 12 hours long! 

If you do need that kind of performance, there are other tights you can choose from - but if you don’t, it’s good that you can save some money on this aspect of your kit. The Classic pad is still great for more ‘everyday’ riding through the winter and I was happy with it.

I think that the cargo pocket is a great addition to these tights. You can have your hands full at cafe stops at the best of times, let alone when the gloves and lights of winter riding are thrown in for good measure. It is a really useful feature - and definitely not one that should be just confined to gravel and bikepacking. 

To be fair, I think for the negligible difference in weight and breathability, cargo pockets make sense for the overwhelming majority of rides - but I’ll save a deeper dive into that topic for another day!

The ankle cuffs are tight fitting whilst still being stretchy enough to get your feet through, which is my preferred approach. Other people prefer zips: less strain is put on the fabric when stuffing your feet through - and it’s a little easier to boot. But I find that zips are generally the first thing to break, plus it can be uncomfortable around your ankle when worn with over shoes (assuming you wear your overshoes over bib tights, but that’s another topic for another day!)

In all, Rapha’s Cargo Core bib tights are a solid performer for a less exorbitant price.

Highly weatherproof

5. Endura Pro SL II

Highly weatherproof

Specifications

Temperature range:
Cuff zips: No
Size range: XS - XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Very warm
+
Effective weather proofing
+
Comfy chamois

Reasons to avoid

-
Movement isn’t so free with heavy duty fabrics
-
Expensive for the performance

Starting with the positives, the combination of warmth and weather proofing of these bib tights was the best on test. They were as warm (if not a little warmer) than Rapha Core Cargo Winter Tights - but Endura has paired this with a water repellent finish on a par with Velocio and Castelli. As such, these were the best tights for washout days when the temperature hovers just above zero. 

But, at least where I am, those sort of days aren’t very common. January is our coldest month, but even then the average temperature across day and night is a not-frigid 4 degrees. Plus, when it does get colder than that, this is generally accompanied by a dry spell with clear skies. We do still get some days which are around 2 degrees and accompanied by heavy rain, but they are less common.

Still, even in those most challenging conditions, I would actually think twice before opting for these Pro SL bib tights over Velocio’s Thermal Utility tights. The issue is that Endura’s maxed-out weatherproofing is a little restricting during the pedal stroke. Not to a large degree, but enough to make you aware of the tights as you’re riding along - which is quite the contrast to what Santini, Velocio and Castelli have all managed to achieve. In some cases, I would accept the trade off of being a little colder in return for greater souplesse.

Compared directly against either Santini Adapt or Castelli’s Free Aero RC, Endura’s Pro SL II do have a more strongly defined niche: Endura’s tights are much more weatherrpoof than Santini’s and much warmer than Castelli’s. 

It’s just the Velocio Thermal Utility bib tights which are so close in so many respects that I would plump for them over Endura’s Pro SL II. Even though Velocio’s aren’t quite as warm, I do really prize the feeling of free and flowing pedal strokes.

It’s also worth considering the price. Despite Endura often being one of the better value brands, the price gap between Velocio and Endura is actually quite narrow here. Even Castelli’s Free Aero RC bib tights come in cheaper than Endura’s Pro SL II - which really isn’t what you’d expect.

Premium feel

Best value for the coldest days

Specifications

Temperature range: Not specified
Cuff zip: Yes
Size range: XS - 3XL

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent polartec bib straps
+
Water resistant lower leg splash guard
+
Low profile, high density chamois

Reasons to avoid

-
Much more expensive than the rest on test

The first mention has to go to the use of Polartec Alpha insulation on the inside of the bib straps. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing this new(ish) fabric, I really can recommend it. You can find it used by a growing range of brands, from Castelli to Velocio and Pearl Izumi to Specialized (although typically only in their winter jackets). 

The fabric is lightweight, lofty, very warm and super soft to the touch - and it is a lovely addition to these tights. Being confined to the straps, it doesn’t obviate the need for a base layer and it doesn’t do much for the warmth of your legs, but it is a nice touch nonetheless.

The water resistant material around the lower legs did a good job of fending off road spray - without impeding the movement of the knee by extending that heavier duty fabric so far up the leg, as is the case with Endura’s Pro SL II tights. On the flipside, it does mean that the water resistance on the thighs doesn’t compare with Velocio’s Thermal Utility bib tights, which have succeeded in giving the best of both worlds in terms of freedom of movement and weather protection.

Le Col has gone for ankle zips on these tights, which some will appreciate for the ease of pulling the tights on and off, but I find it a bit of an extra faff to open and close. Credit where it’s due, though, I didn’t really notice the zip when pairing these tights with overshoes - which isn’t usually the case.

Like other range-topping Le Col bibs, the chamois is the Premium Dolomiti Gel Pad, which I get on well with and is towards the lower profile end of the spectrum - whilst still providing a good level of cushioning for long rides. 

In all, these are a great set of bib, but there are other models I would turn to for their spesfiic features. Castelli’s Free Aero RC are even better in the wet and are lighterweight and you hardly notice them. Santini’s Adapt bib tights are perhaps the closest in terms of the actual performance, but offer the benefits of integrating wool into their fabric. Whilst Velocio manages to outperform on the weatherproofing and warmth without adverse consequences to the fit and stretch. 

As all those tights have a lower list price than Le Col’s Hors Categorie Bib Tights, I would recommend those models over Le Col’s. However, if you can find them at a considerable discount, that would change the calculus somewhat.

The best bib tights reviewed - Women's

Women's bib tights often have a slightly different upper section, with a halterneck or releasable clasp designed to make nature breaks more easy. Some, however, forgo this and offer a full-body option, which doubles up as a base layer.

WOMEN'S

The best all-round winter bib tights for women

Best Bib Tights for Cycling: Castelli Sorpasso RoS women's bib tights

(Image credit: Future)
Best all-round winter bib tights for women

Specifications

Fabric : Nano Flex 3G fabric, Nano Flex Xtra Dry
Wind/ Water proof: Wind and water repellent
Chamois : Progetto X2 Air seamless seat pad
Temperature range : 32ºF/ 0ºc - 53ºF/12ºc
Sizes: XS - XL
Color: Black, Pink/black, blue

Reasons to buy

+
Warm in cold conditions, yet constantly breathable 
+
Great water resistant properties
+
Reasonable price for performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Would like a comfort break solution
-
Zipped ankles won't suit all riders

On test we found the Castelli Sorpasso RoS women's bib tights to be extremely comfortable, ticking all the right boxes: warmth, water resistance, breathability and fit, gaining them a coveted Cycling Weekly Editor's Choice Award.

Worn on both dry and mild winter rides, as well as dank and cold ones, they've proved themselves capable at both thanks to both the wind and water resistance and high breathability.  As with all of the best bib tights, the Castelli Sorpasso RoS pair manage to do all the above without restriction around the knees or thighs. 

The pad provides ample comfort for many hours in the saddle, but it's a shame that some form of quick access comfort break feature wasn't designed in. The only other not perfect aspect is that ankle zips don't really serve much purpose, but for some, it might make getting the tights on and off a little easier. 

All in all however, these are a superb pair of women's specific bib tights that will get a lot of wear, and seem a positive bargain when compared to the Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights.

Read more: Castelli Sorpasso RoS women's bib tights full review

The best