Ticking big winter apparel riding boxes of wind and rain repellence, warmth without overheating and comfort makes the fairly priced Sportful Pro bib tights a great option, but the unnecessary novelty knee flaps lets them down.
Water and rain repellence
Position of reflective details
By Hannah Bussey published
Professional level winter kit has a hard brief to fill: it has to keep riders warm, without overheating and stop the rain getting in, while letting water vapour out. It's a dichotomy of needs, but have the Sportful Pro bib tights nailed it?
Pro rider winter kit
As expected of a 'Pro level' piece of apparel, the Sportful Pro bib tights come with a race fit.
On the thigh, which receives the most element buffeting, is a heavyweight fleece with enhanced water and wind protection.
This fabric extends down below the knee as a sort of apron, which is not unlike the rear flap of the Sportful Fiandre NoRain bibtights. However, this time a mesh panel has been inserted underneath to hold the tights together.
On the shins is the brand's own NoRain DWR fabric, while elsewhere a thermal fleecy Roubaix like fabric has been used.
With male and female versions of the Sportful Pro bib tights available, the fit is gender specific and so is the seat pad.
Both male and female versions of these tights use the brand's gender specific Total Comfort pads. I've tested the women's version several times before and I still find it to be a well balanced option.
Sportful Pro bib tights: the ride
The overall fit on these tights is great. The small felt, in the main, like a second skin. I really liked the attention to detail around the ankle closure, an area where the Rapha Women's Pro Team Winter Tights were lacking. The reflective decal position is, however, too low as it will be instantly covered up with overshoes, a wearable given when winter riding.
I'd say in terms of hitting the goals, Sportful has managed to deliver the tricky task of keeping me warm while preventing overheating. Drizzle beads off nicely, but be aware that after a few washes you will need to reapply DWR protection.
I've never suffered with overly warm knees, so I can't say that the temperature regulation function of the patella apron didn't work, but I don't feel it added to the performance, either.
Form however is a different matter. There's so much to like about the Sportful Pro bib tights, so I'm gutted about the looks from knees down, which would stop me wanting to naturally reach for these. My knees have never really vied for my attention visually, but dressed in this get-up they were practically screaming "look at me" all ride.
I just couldn't mentally move on from the spats-esque baggy appearance. It took a lot of will power not to constantly try to pull them up. Other than a talking point, I'm not convinced by the inclusion of this knee ventilation feature.
Overall you do get a lot for the £150 Sportful Pro bib tights, which sit at the upper-middle price point, offering and delivering many of the features that much more expensive pairs provide.
But the knee things feel like a gimmick and I'd rather save the money from the extra manufacturing process and get a cheaper, but better brilliant pair.
Hannah Bussey is Cycling Weekly’s longest serving Tech writer, having started with the Magazine back in 2011.
She's specialises on the technical side of all things cycling, including Pro Peloton Team kit having covered multiple seasons of the Spring Classics, and Grand Tours for both print and websites. Prior to joining Cycling Weekly, Hannah was a successful road and track racer, competing in UCI races across the world, and has raced in most of Europe, China, Pakistan and New Zealand. For fun, she's ridden LEJoG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, win 24 hour mountain bike race and tackle famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas. She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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