Incredibly cosy bib tights that offer an excellent fit, weather proofing and bonus pockets to boot. The price can't be sniffed at, but if you're planning to tackle all day adventures and want to do so in comfort and with must-have's close to hand, they're an investment we'd recommend.
Warm, breathable fabric
Water repellant without impacting fit
When the temperatures dropped into the low single digits at the end of November, a tiny part of me was a little bit happy: I had a cosy new pair of Rapha bib tights to try and the forecast cold, wet conditions were perfect.
Available only in a rich navy blue, with ample pink and white reflective features reassuringly encompassing the lower leg, these bibs boast a brushed fleece inner and a durable water repellent (DWR) coating.
And then of course, there's the characterful pocket provision which sets these bib tights apart. A rider wearing Rapha's Cargo tights has four more pockets than those opting for a more traditional set up: two at the lower back (one zipped), a mesh covered pocket on the right quad and a smaller zipped compartment on the left.
My two primary concerns around these tights were that they'd be too warm, or that items placed in the pockets would make themselves known with an irritating jiggle that matched my RPM.
Both of these potential issues proved to be unfounded.
Even my weighty Huawei P20 stayed secure against my leg when pocketed. I found storing a mid-ride snack in the outside leg pocket meant it was easy to reach without the fumbling that sometimes goes on when wearing thick winter gloves, and I could forgo a saddlebag with an inner tube safely stowed at my lower back. On multiday adventures, all this added space would surely come into its own.
Though thick, the fabric was breathable enough for hard efforts on the outdoor velodrome and on the club run. Riding through the flood waters of the previous days' rain in the Kent lanes similarly showed the quality of the DWR coating.
In previous iterations of Rapha's more race focused Souplesse tights, I've found the knees restrictive and the coating created an odd sensation of slip-sliding in the saddle - but that wasn't the case here. Water droplets sat on the surface without penetrating through to the skin, and there was still plenty of flex without bunching.
I typically wear a UK size 8-10 and opted for a small in these. The fit was as expected, though a tad more generous than the more race focused garments in Rapha's Souplesse range.
The chamois is of course at the heart of any pair of bib tights, and in this case the endurance target certainly made itself known. The 11mm pad is thicker than most, but was forgotten once on the bike, aside from providing relief from the imprint of the saddle after a few hours of pedalling.
So far, so good. Of course, very little in life is perfect - and these bibs come with two negatives for me.
Firstly, there's no halterneck, clasp or other provision made for toilet breaks. Whilst I'll always maintain that you spend more time riding in tights than you do going to the toilet, stripping off all your upper layers when the temperatures are hovering just above zero is never ideal.
Secondly, the price can't be ignored - £240 is not to be sniffed at, even for tights which ignite a little pre-ride excitement by virtue of their warmth, comfort and novelty pockets.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.
A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly.
When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.
She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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