The Evolve Wind bib tights do exactly what Shimano intends them to do – keep out the wind – and are comfortable, durable and not ridiculously expensive compared to rival premium tights. I didn’t get on with the two-way zip and some people might not like the look of the wrinkling around the edges of the windproof panels, but this is a good pair of deep-winter tights.
Very warm, windproof panels
High bib front for extra insulation
Thick, comfortable chamois
Two way zip creates a lump
Flatlock seams frayed slightly after multiple washes
The Shimano Evolve Wind bib tights are seriously heavy duty. In fact, it needs to be really wintry or they can be a bit too warm if you’re riding hard. But as soon as the north wind starts to blow in earnest and the sleet sweeps in, these tights, with their multi-fabric, multi-layer, fleece-backed construction, are the perfect defence. With the excellent Evolve pad, which is thicker than many and perfect for longer rides, they're a formidable winter weapon.
The two-way zip isn't quite in the right place for me, and they're not quite right in the looks department due to a bit of unsightly wrinkling, but for really cold weather they're great.
Shimano Evolve Wind bib tights: construction
On the front of the thighs is a dual-layer water and wind-resistant fabric with a slightly shiny surface that really does keep out the weather. This large panel extends from the hip, covers the outside of the thighs and wraps around to protect the front of the knee. Shimano says it’s a durable water repellent fabric (rather than treatment) that retains its efficiency after multiple washes. Having worn these tights through the worst of last winter, I would agree with that.
To the rear of these two panels and below the knees is a softer, stretchier fabric that’s less windproof and waterproof – fine for the areas that are either out of the wind or benefiting from an under layer of socks.
The entire tights section is fleece-backed and feels very snug next to the skin.
The bib has a high front, which is great for extra insulation, but I wasn’t so sure about the two-way zip with its lower puller that forms a small lump just above a sensitive zone. I did experience some rubbing from it one time when it joined forces with the hem of a base layer, but just like the fit of a garment, these things can be individual and down to the wearer’s morphology.
The raw-cut straps are comfortable, sitting nice and flat on the shoulders, while a mesh back is designed to wick away moisture, which it does well.
The cuffs are zipless, and the seams above them are able to withstand considerable stretching. Personally I prefer a zipless elastic cuff for the cleaner interface with overshoes and these fitted well and were comfortable. Unfortunately, however, I did manage to tear a small section of the stitching in the rear seam by pulling them on too vigorously, which is always the danger with zipless cuffs and something I wouldn’t say was a fault with the Shimano tights.
The fit of the medium was as expected for 178cm and 69kg. Due to the thickness of the windproof panels, there was a small amount of wrinkling at the sides of the knee and just under the kneecap.
Reflective detailing is discreet but works fine.
Shimano Evolve Wind bib tights: the ride
As I’ve mentioned, these are very warm tights, probably too warm if the temperature is above about 8°C and you’re riding reasonably hard. Shimano doesn't supply a recommended temperature range, but for genuine winter endurance riding and slower-paced non-drop group rides, they are superb down to zero.
I found the Evolve pad very comfortable, and crucially it stayed in the right place. For winter riding, which is traditionally longer and slower, a thick chamois is good. After multiple wash cycles and long rides it has stayed thick, too.
Yes, £179.99 is a lot of money to pay for tights, but it’s a whole £60 less than the Assos Mille GT Ultraz and £50 less than the Santini Adapt (review to come).
With these tights now into their second winter, I can attest to the durability of the Shimano Evolve bib tights: apart from my sticking a thumb though one of the seams and the flatlocked seams looking slightly frayed, they’re prettty good, the fabric on the fronts of the legs is still water resistant despite multiple washes and the chamois is as thick as ever, making them reasonably good value.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism.
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Mercian Classic fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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