A really well made and designed pair of bib tights. A very warm body section and hydrophobic material on the legs aim to keep you functioning in the deepest part of winter. Allied with a fantastic chamois for maximum comfort. They are a bit hot for 2 season use however.
Ideal for really cold days
Hydrophobic material doesn't hang on to too much water
Dolomiti chamois/seat pad is excellent
Women's version also available
Slightly short leg
Price quite high compared to other offerings
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The Hors Catégorie tights are Le Col's top of the range bibs and are available in men's and women's versions. They are designed to allow you to ride into the depths of winter and stay comfortable thanks to a thermally lined body and water repellent legs.
The lower legs feature zippered ankles and reflective details, while the chamois (seat pad) is a premium Dolomiti item – all similar features to many of the best bib tights we've reviewed.
The tights are available in sizes XS to 3XL (Mens) and XS to XL (Womens). They are also available in 3 subtly different finishes; black/black (on test), black/gold and plain black! The ladies only have the black/black option.
Le Col Hors Catégorie Bib Tights: construction
The Hors Catégorie Bib Tights are well made from a highly breathable material which is also able to wick moisture away. This hydrophobic Aqua Zero material, which is used on the legs, is able to bead water off the fabric rather than absorbing it.
It's soft to the touch, too. There is an additional splash panel over the kidney area to help with back wheel spray and the body section is lined in a very soft grey fleece, which adds extra warmth to the torso.
The ankle zips allow easy access and a close fit, whilst reflective detailing is featured around the base of the ankle seam and on the side of the calf.
I weighed the large size at 310 grams, which seems to similar to other bibs out there.
Le Col Hors Catégorie Bib Tights: the ride
One of the hazards of testing deep winter clothing is the chance of unseasonably warm weather – a high of 21°C / 70°F this November was the latest that temperature has ever been recorded in the UK in a calendar year.
Still, there have at least been some cooler spells for testing these tights in, although it has been hard work to catch them.
Anyway, onto the Hors Catégorie Bib Tights. Their fit is notably good and really comfortable. The straps feel a fraction tight walking about, until I started riding whereupon they fitted me perfectly. I especially liked the fleece waffle-like grey insulation finish to the body section.
They came up quite high and provided good warmth. However, bearing in mind the temperatures that I'm riding in at the moment, it did quite easily get a little too warm – although that bodes very well for when the mercury plummets.
This is a garment for when the temperatures are well below 10°C / 50°F – and much lower. More of a hardcore single season set of tights than a more general two season pair, I'd say.
I used Le Cols' sizing guide which set me as a Large, which is my usual size for bibs and leggings. The large felt about right to me, although I did have one niggle with the leg length. They did seem a bit short, certainly compared to my usual (large) Gore bibs. I needed to use a longer sock, otherwise I had a noticeable cold gap even though no skin actually showed.
When wearing overshoes, there was about 30mm or so of overlap and it wasn't a problem. My thought is that, in the temperatures that you'd normally be wearing these tights in, you would also be wearing overshoes too. This does then create less bulk around the ankle, which would be good thing.
The hydrophobic Aqua Zero material that is used on the legs is fascinating to watch as the water beads up and runs off the fabric. Your legs do get damp as it isn't waterproof, but when you wring the legs out not much water has been held in the fabric. They are very breathable too. You can feel the wind through the fabric a little, unlike the windproof Castelli Entrata Wind bib tights, but that was never so much as to bother me.
The splash panel on the lower back was a nice touch and should be useful to those who don't use mudguards or fenders.
The Dolomiti chamois/seat pad is excellent. It is probably the best one that I have ever ridden with. Being one piece, with no seams, and attached with flat locked seams around the edges, it gives no opportunity for chaffing. The sit bone padding area is really good with enough flex to be comfortable but enough support not feel any jarring.
Le Col Hors Catégorie Bib Tights: value and conclusion
At $305.00 / £250.00 these are Le Col's top of the range offering, and feature some really great design choices. The Dolomiti chamois/seat pad is fantastically comfortable, the hydrophobic material used on the legs works well at not hanging onto excess water and is really soft and warm to boot. The body section is very warm with its thermal lining.
I did find the legs a little short initially and needed to alter the sock length that I normally ride with. That said, there was ample overlap when wearing overshoes. These are really warm bib tights (think circa 10°C / 50°F as a maximum to ride in) and so once you're riding in single digit Celsius temperatures you're probably wearing overshoes anyway, maybe the leg length is a non issue...
The only other 'issue' is value. Whilst there is much to really love about the Hors Catégorie bib tights if you compare them to the Castelli Entrata Wind bib tights which are $199.99/£160.00 there isn't much between them.
The Hors Catégorie are very warm, with hydrophobic legs and a fantastic chamois, whilst the Entrata have windproof/hydrophobic legs and a great chamois and are more of a two season set of bibs.
They are both great bib tights and the differences between them are fairly small, but it is quite a difference in price. We all have features that we favour or are looking for in products, so now that choice is down to you...
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