Wind proof and water resistant with an almost handy, dropped tail for comfort breaks - the Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights are a go-to winter riding companion.
Water and wind resistant front
High thermal properties
Magnetic clasp can be fiddly
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The big story with the female specific Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights is the drop tail for easy comfort breaks.
While the practicalities of stripping down to just a base layer in warmer months is mostly just a challenging pocket contents juggle, in winter weather it becomes more of a health hazard, as you weigh up the hypothermia vs toilet break avoidance kidney infection odds.
With the magnetic clasp (also found on the Rapha Women's Souplesse Detachable race bibshorts) at the rear of the tights, the requirement to remove anything other than perhaps a glove for a comfort break will be most welcomed.
Cycling tights designed just for women
The Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights are are similar in design to the above mentioned Rapha bib shorts, meaning that they have been cut and crafted just for females.
The front of the Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights uses a high Polyester mix fabric that provides water and wind resistance, as well as thermal insulation. The robust DWR (durable water repellent) coated fabric extends under the chamois and lower back, helping to protect you from road spray.
Keeping the rest of the body warm is a stretchy breathable Thermoroubaix fleece behind the knees and on the calves, with a stretchy thermal high wasted bib.
The Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights are finished off with a women's specific chamios pad, which Rapha say ranges between 8mm and 11mm thickness depending on the tights size.
My concerns that the stiffer wind blocking front fabric used at the front of the Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights would restrict free knee movement was alleviated on the first ride. There is some tightness over a standard Roubaix fleece fabric pair of tights, such as the Endura Women's Xtract bibtights, but nothing that would create biomechanical issues.
The overall fit is athletic, although, I feel like the ankle cuffs have been a bit of an after thought, with not enough tailoring or gripping.
In wind and drizzly conditions the Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights are spot on. A complete downpour breached the fabric, but only after some time, so by the time rain made skin contact it was warm, and thanks to the effective wind block, I was never cold as a result. The DWR aspect will reduce over time with washing and wear though, but you can pick up a decent spray replacement for less than a fiver.
The fleecy inners help with both warmth and sweat wicking, and overall, the tights are breathable. It's worth noting however that they perform best below 10º for optimal temperature regulating comfort.
Talking of comfort, the dropped tail on the Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights functions well. The clasp is realistically a two handed job, and it was nearly a two person job when the upper contracted itself too high up my back easily reattach. A comedy Rod Hull and Emu (google it kids) sketch ensued - something to remember when towards the end of a long ride and mobility is not at its peak.
There's no denying that spending £210 on one piece of cycling apparel is a lot. However, if you're struggling to get out on the bike once the temperature gets to single digits, then Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter bib tights will become your go too tights, making cost per-wear pretty reasonable.
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