Rapha Classic Winter Tights with pad review
Comfy fleece-backed tights on days up to around 10°C
A great set of winter bib tights for the coldest days and up to around 10°C / 50°F. The fit and feel are both excellent, with the pad feeling very comfortable in all riding conditions and longer durations. Tthe performance is up there with the best.
Warm and flexible material
Nice added visibility
High upper and rear adds warmth
Very comfortable pad
Bib straps are good length and don’t pull down on the shoulders
Possibly a bit warm for above 10°C / 50°F
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The Rapha Classic Winter Tights are comfy and deliver plenty of warmth when it the temperature dips below 10°C / 50°F down to single figures. With a price tag that's comparable to other premium options, these are to be seriously considered amongst the best bib tights for cycling.
Rapha Classic Winter Tights with pad: construction
The Rapha Classic Winter Tights are made up of a high-stretch Thermoroubaix fabric which - although it feels quite thin - does offer a lot of warmth. The front and the back of the tights also come up nice and high, helping to keep your midriff toasty.
The straps of these bib tights are mesh which is nice as it offers some ventilation and its ability to shift some heat once you open up your jersey/jacket – if, say, the weather gets a little better and you’re on a long, steep climb. The straps are also very comfortable, as they are a reasonable length and don’t pull on the shoulders.
The legs use an elasticated gripper rather than zips and have a reflective panel running up along the back of the left side and a bright white panel on the right side. The legs themselves also don’t have any seams around the knee, so there's no chance of rubbing and discomfort from this when flexing and extending the leg.
The pad feels quite bulky when not on the bike, and I was worried I had gone a size too large. However, when sitting on the bike, the chamois does become unnoticeable and offers a great amount of padding without any rubbing.
The tights are available in both black and dark navy, and I’m a big fan of the latter. I do like seeing more colour options available in bibs, and it would be nice to see other colours available in Rapha’s range such as the dark burgundy, grey, and dark green.
Hi vis or reflective detail placement on the side or front of the bibs would be preferred too, for forward and side visibility at junctions.
Rapha Classic Winter Tights with pad: the ride
Straight away when putting these on it is noticeable that they have a very premium feeling and the fleece lining on the inside is very comfortable. I quite like that the legs don’t use zippers at the bottom as that means I don’t catch my leg hair in them (which is an occasional winter hazard).
The front of the tights come up higher than most, which is very welcome for low temperatures when I find I often get quite a cold stomach. However, the tights are noticeably warm in anything above 10°C / 50°F. That said, the first ride I did in these was about 14°C and it was probably a bit too warm for them, however it never got uncomfortable.
And, although the front does come up as high as it does, it is at least still flexible enough that you can have 'nature breaks' during longer rides.
The reflective detailing was also very much appreciated as with the combination of early night and long endurance rides, kit which helps with visibility is often needed.
The chamois itself feels quite thick and a bit intrusive when you are standing up off the bike, but when you sit down it feels very comfortable and one of the best that I have used. The lack of any seams around the knee is noticeable and makes these tights incredibly comfortable with no fabric pinching at all.
Riding over a wide range of terrain and in through swings in the weather, the bibs held up brilliantly comfort-wise. In the rain they never felt like they absorbed too much water or got uncomfortable. Sometimes wet bib tights can lead to unpleasant rubbing but with these that wasn’t an issue.
The Rapha Classic Winter Tights also keep the wind chill out nicely, so even when the tights do get wet, you don’t get such a bad wind chill effect. For longer rides the pad continues to perform brilliantly and remains as comfortable at the end of the ride it did at the start.
One gripe I do have is that the reflective panel on the leg is on the wrong side for UK roads. Admittedly, some UK cyclists do love a bit of Euro style, but in this instance the reflective leg should either be on the right side for UK buyers or, preferably, on both sides.
Rapha Classic Winter Tights with pad: value and conclusion
The Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Bib Tights ($299.00 / £240.00), Castelli Sorpasso Ros Wind Bib Tights ($259.99 / £225.00), Le Col Hors Categorie Bib Tights ($290.00 / £250.00) are probably the closest comparisons when it comes to premium bib tights, with the Rapha Classics coming in at a similar price to the competition at $295.00 / £220.00. The Assos Mille GTO Winter Bib Tights C2 are a level above at $550.00 / £395.00!
I can’t compare these to the Assos or Le Col bib tights, but being a long time user of the Castelli Sorpasso tights, I can confirm that the Rapha are very similar comfort wise, with possibly an even better chamois. I also prefer the lack of zip on the legs, with the choice for an elastic cuff instead. The high front of the tights also makes these a better option for when temperatures drop below 10° Celsius.
There’s no doubt that there are cheaper options available, but the comfort, fit, and weather resistance of cheaper alternatives will likely not be as good. I’ve personally found that premium bib tights such as these will last well over several winters of extensive outdoor riding.
The Rapha Classic Winter Tights with pad are a great pair of winter tights best suited for the colder days on the bike. The extended front and rear covering is ideal for when it drops below 10°C / 50°F. The chamois itself remains comfortable for hours and hours in varying weather conditions.
Elasticated cuffs are, again, a nice choice over zips, but the rear reflective panel on the leg would be better suited being on the right for UK riders or doubling up and having them on both legs.
Value wise these come in at the price expected for high end winter bib tights, but still present quite an investment. However, given the quality of Rapha bibs these should last a fair few seasons.
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Andy is a Sport & Exercise Scientist, fully qualified and experienced cycling coach, personal trainer and gym instructor. He spent 3 years on the road riding for a UCI cycling team and 7 years as a BC Elite rider.
After graduating in 2020 with first-class honours in his Sport & Exercise Sciences BSc, he continued to pursue his interest in research in the field of sport science alongside setting up his coaching business, ATP Performance, and working for USA-based firm, Wahoo Sports Science. He balanced this with racing at international level, competing in prestigious events such as the Tour of Britain and the Volta a Portugal.
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