The Q36.5 Light Bib Tights are a true gem of a find. They bridge the temperature between the end of summer and late autumn. In fact, they and are so lightweight and unrestrictive that I'd even go as far to say they're race ready. This could spell the end of leg or knee warmers for a lot of riders.
Race ready, but unrestricted fit
fabric softness with minimal seams
Replaces leg or knee warmers
Comfortable bib upper
Light weight fabric means not winter tights
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Summer and winter are pretty easy to dress for – it's fall and spring that cause the worst headaches when it comes our kit choices.
The large temperature differentials on either side of the 10°C / 50°F turning point makes choosing between the a set of the best bib tights or a going for a combination of the best bib shorts with the best cycling leg and knee warmers an especially difficult decision to make.
There appears, however, to now be a third option in the from of the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights.
Q36.5 Light Bib Tight - the brand
Before diving in to the tights themselves, it's worth taking some time to get to know the brand.
Q36.5 was launched in summer 2013 by Luigi Bergamo and Sabrina Bergamo Emmasi.
Prior to this Bergamo had been head of Assos Reasearch and Development for 20 years, and cites his biggest achievement there being responsible for the 'Assos shorts' that we all know and loved so much.
Founding partner Bergamo Emmasi was a professional cyclists, having raced the Pro Tour for Safi - Pasta Zara - Manhattan (UCI) and Team Bigla (UCI).
According to the brand, Q36.5 – which stands for Quaerere, Latin for seek, ask, inquire, with 36.5 being roughly the normal body temperature in Celsius – was born from a desire to innovate fabrics and designs.
Bergamo says it was his need for spending more time in the laboratory over a shop floor that was the catalyst for him to leave Assos and go it alone – with his wife as business partner.
Today, the pair still owns 70 percent of the business, which allows them to have significant control of the direction of the brand and the range of apparel. It also, according to the brand, allows it to have serious consideration to sustainability.
For Q36.5 this means creating propriety fabrics that contain 100% recycled yarn, producing timeless designs which are durable, and keeping 95% of production within a 350km distance of the brand's headquarters in Bolzano (a region in northern Italy at the base of the Dolomites, which boarders Switzerland and Liechtenstein) with all fabric and materials entirely made in Italy.
Q36.5 Light Bib Tight - Construction
The Q36.5 Light Bib Tight has been designed to plug the gap in your cycling apparel specifically when the temperature is still around the double digits (in Celsius).
The brand has used its own high-density polyamide and elastane yarn, called UV Knit 44 (due to its 44 stiches per cm² ), which Q36.5 says are 100 percent recycled. I've asked for more clarification on this, so hope to provide an update on the fabric soon.
The UV obviously refers to its claimed sun protection and deflection, which it says helps reduce heat build-up by up to 1.5°C over regular Lycra based fabrics.
This fabric is paired with a visibly ribbed, more thickly woven (Modulus Force warp 510, weft 620), material – which Q36.5 call a Lumber Support Panel.
The aim of which is to provide extreme compression zone of support for the lower back and glute muscles, which in turn should proved more stability and support when on the bike, with the aim of reducing rider fatigue.
But that's not all, the lumber support on the Q35.6 Light Bib Tights also includes silver thread, which is commonly seen in fabrics and medical applications due to it's proven antibacterial properties. However, its inclusion in this area is down to its possible electromagnetic shielding abilities.
Q36.5 itself says that "the protection offered by the silver thread from these waves allow the active muscles to operate with less “distractions”, further refining the ergogenic function of Q36.5’s high density woven fabrics".
It's a bold claim, and one I'm not sure we'll ever really be able to fact check.
All research papers I've read on the subject suggest that the benefits of this are still inconclusive. That said, it is generally agreed that that electromagnetic fields increase stress on our bodies, and there is some data out there that supports the concept that fabric with silver thread may provide some protection against this.
Although previously we've found the truth about recovery aids for cycling to be somewhere in the middle.
The legs of the bib tights have a pre-shaped ride cut which has helped keep panels – and therefore seams – to a minimum. By my reckoning is around five for each leg, with the final panel a reflective fabric insert located at the lower leg. This, indecently, is finished with a raw cut edge – again to reduce hems and possible friction irritation.
On the inside of the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights is a gender specific pad, in the case of my test pair, a women's seamless moulded chamois, which the brand say adapts to the shape of the rider's saddle.
Up top sits a pair of lightweight over-arm bib straps, which combine a raw cut finish, with a doubled over mesh fabric to keep them as breathable and lightweight as possible.
The combination of all these construction techniques and fabric choices assists in the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights to come in at a low weight of 223g, which is not far off a 100 grams lighter than the Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights, both in a size small.
Q36.5 Light Bib Tight - The ride
One of the most hotly debated areas in cycling apparel between riders is at what point in the season do you accept that shorts are an unacceptable option. This highly depends on your location / nationality (or the adoption of). But for a British Southerner now living in The North, the correct answer is – unquestionably – 17.5 degrees Celsius.
If I were a Spanish pro, it'd probably more like mid 20s degrees Celsius, yet alas, I'm not. I'm firmly a Brit on British soil – and already firmly riding around in that awkward part of the cycling season when I'm feeling too hot and also too cold both at the same time when out on the bike.
The problem is that this midpoint temperatures are tricky to dress for, though generally bridged with the help of knee or leg warmers.
Even so, these can be quite hard to get right and finding a pair that will stay put, won't over constrict or cause friction/ pinch points on the upper thigh or behind the knee is akin to finding the right saddle.
Which is where the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights come in to bridge the gap.
When stepping outside the first time, it is hard to tell you have them on, as the any breeze will penetrate the fabric instantly. This does mean that they aren't by any means a thermal or waterproof option, but they are highly breathable.
This also means that you can up the temperature limit to much warmer conditions, as they really are that lightweight. I understand now why the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights have a decent UV protection rating – they would be a perfect choice for anyone who it looking for leg cover even in warm weather.
The other perk of the lightweight fabric is that its super soft and malleable. Coupled with the skin tight fit, minimal seams, and raw cut bibs means that they provide a lot of body freedom.
Chamois fit is a personal preference, and while I felt that the pad in the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights was a little large at first. It is about the same width as the aforementioned Rapha bib tights, but 50 about 50mm longer at 300mm. But nevertheless, it felt compliant and did seem, as promised, to sit well when in the saddle.
Out the saddle, a chamois staying put is more of a testament to the work of the bib part of the tights, and the Q36.5 Light performed this dutifully. It's worth revisiting here that I was testing the women's version of the Q36.5, so can't vouch for the fit of the men's version.
I really liked the simplicity of the up and over design, doing away with the current trend for clips and clasps, as found on those Rapha tights, and, ironically, many Assos bottoms, that intend to make comfort brakes for women easier. From experience they tend to do the opposite.
These tights provide so much freedom that I would certainly consider racing in them. This could be a game changer for some riders, who, if like me feel too constricted (mentally and physically) by wearing bib tights on a start line, but then get too distracted by a rogue knee warmer coming adrift from my bib shorts.
All of this does mean that if you are a little nesh, like me, you'll probably want to move your season in the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights forward (or back, if looking for post winter use) a bit if you are intending to wear for your regular rides.
If you run hot, have hard training or racing to complete, then the Q36.5 Light Bib Bights are ideal, as they are so un-noticeable when on, you'll be ditching all form of lower limb warmers in favour of these in no time.
However, another non-noticeable is the highly scientific aspects of the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights, specifically the impact of silver thread in the lumber support.
Q36.5 says that silver thread does provide protection from the "so-called 'electrosmog' pollution of electromagnetic radiation resulting from wireless technology and mains electricity".
Without lab-based conditions for testing, it's impossible to say whether or not protection from electrostatic and magnetic interference actually works. To be honest it's a can of worms I'm not qualified enough to properly open up, so probably best to pause there on the subject.
Q36.5 Light Bib Tight - Value
Without proof of the benefits from the high tech wizardry, it could be temping to think that the RRP of €200 is a little bit far fetched, especially when we can't vouch for the science behind one of the key features of the tights.
However, looking across bib tight peers they're really rather competitively priced. Over ten percent cheaper than the full priced Rapha Pro Women's bib tights, Castelli Sorpasso RoS, although arguably they are for a different climate.
Either way, I feel like the the Q36.5 Light Bib Tights are a great find, and would rather slip these on than a pair of warmers any day – as long as the conditions are just about warm enough.
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