When the temperature drops but you still want to ride, it’s vital you protect your most important features: your legs. The right pair of cycling tights will do the trick.
The right cycling tights will dramatically enhance your riding comfort and the types of conditions you can ride comfortably in. They’re a staple of the dedicated cyclist’s wardrobe but you don’t need to be an all-weather mile muncher to appreciate their benefits – especially as our range of tights starts from as little as £9.99.
Your legs will love them and we’ve got something for every type of cyclist in every type of weather – just follow our guidance here – and you’ll have a garment that will drastically improve levels of comfort and protect your legs from cold, wind and rain.
Full length or three quarters
Most people’s first thoughts of cycling tights involve an image of waist to ankle in black Lycra. Yes, full length tights are the best option when cold weather really sets in and for extra warmth products such as our B’Twin RC 100 tights offer quite fantastic coverage and protection from the elements. But full-length tights aren’t the only option.
If you’re looking for just a little more coverage than can be provided by shorts but don’t require the full works, then three-quarter tights, such as our Rockrider 100 women’s 3/4 padded tights are a great alternative. These give protection over the knee area, which for some riders can be particularly susceptible to chills, and are excellent for cool autumn and spring rides.
Don’t forget that in changeable and cool conditions, leg warmers and specific knee warmers can enhance even just a pair of shorts. Or, if the look of tights puts you off, you can wear them under baggies - such as our Rockrider ST900 mountain bike shorts - and enjoy all the same performance benefits without the overt aesthetics.
Waists, bibs and zipps
Once you know how much coverage you want from your tights, it’s time to decide on other aspects of their construction. The most simple and straightforward tight designs use a waistband to keep them in place, which makes them easy to put on and take off. However, look for wider waistbands that spread the load, such as on our Triban Women’s RC100 tights; tighter, thinner waistbands can dig into the tummy.
The trade-off for convenience is that waistband tights don’t offer quite the same levels of support as full bib tights, which feature straps that go over the shoulders. These tend to be better for doing longer distances, especially because they keep the padded insert at the crotch more securely in place.
The downsides of bib tights are that they can be a faff to remove and you must check that the straps offer wide enough support so that they won’t dig into your shoulders. Also, be aware that back sections and even straps can get sweaty if they are not made of breathable material.
One other design aspect to take note of is the closure around the ankles. Zipped ankles, such as those found on our Triban Women’s RC500 Winter tights can help keep the bottom of tight legs secure and won’t let the cold creep in.
If you are intending to wear just tights alone on your bottom half, having a padded insert at the crotch is the obvious decision as it will make your riding experience far more comfortable.
Foam and/or gel padding are the most typical choices, but don’t be seduced by the sheer amount of padding involved: when it comes to shorts and tights, padding quality is better than padding quantity. So check that the padded insert has had some level of ergonomic design and is shaped to avoid chafing.
As an example, the preformed and shaped pad in our Triban Men’s RC500 tights is made from double-density foam and is designed to provide continued comfort over rides of a couple of hours.
Wind and rain resistance
Weather proofing is our next consideration: how much water or wind resistance do you want? If you’re not a wet-weather warrior, choosing a pair of tights that provide just warmth and windproofing – such as our Van Rysel Women’s Cold Weather tights - will allow you to enjoy your bike on cool, crisp days; in truth, often some of the best days for cycling.
However, if you want the full, all-weather benefit of a pair of tights, there are some great rainproof options. These use hi-tech fabrics and treatments to stop water making it through to you skin and you can ride on in dry comfort. For anybody needing tights that will cope with almost anything, our awesome Rockrider XC mountain bike tights are water repellent, windproof, breathable and ultra-durable.
Fabric, warmth and breathability
Waterproofing and windproofing is dependent on the type of material used, but with so much fabric being in contact with so much of your body, there are two further crucial qualities to consider: warmth and next-to-skin comfort.
Warmth, after all, is the very reason you are wearing tights in the first place, so make sure you choose a pair that offers the kind of insulating performance you are after. Thermal tights are available for super cold days whereas tights with thinner material are built for spring and autumn.
High-quality tights, such as our B’Twin RR 900 winter road tights, use special fabric that offers great insulation from cold weather and – most instantly appreciable – a soft fleece lining to trap warm air and really enhance rider comfort.
Breathability shouldn’t be forgotten either. Your legs might not sweat quite as profusely as your torso but breathability is still welcome, especially at bib tight back sections and straps.
Shape, cut and reflectivity
For perfect on-bike shape and comfort, some designs of tights use a selection of fabric panels to enhance freedom of movement. Even more advanced tights use panels of different technical fabrics in the most suitable areas.
For example, our ultimate performance Van Rysel 900 bib tights have been developed in association with the Van Rysel sponsored AG2R u19 team for long, fast days in the saddle and feature breathable mesh at the shoulder straps and back, and weather-resistant sections at the thighs.
Finally – reflectivity! You will almost certainly wear your tights in gloomy conditions and large expanses of black Lycra aren’t great for getting noticed. Check your tights come with reflective highlights, normally on the calves or thighs, to help other road users notice you.
So there’s a lot to think about when buying your cycling tights. But choose correctly and you won’t just be beating the weather; you’ll be opening up the whole year to comfortable cycling. Trust us – your legs will thank you for it.