If you're just getting into (winter) road cycling or after a pair of cheap workmanlike bib tights for shorter winter rides, Caratti's Pro Windproof Bib Tights are great-value options.
- Pros: Top value, good leg comfort, decently warm
- Cons: Chamois lacks padding for longer rides
The thing about a £55 price tag is that, for many roadies – even this one from time to time – it can immediately put potential buyers off. As the old saying goes, 'you get what you pay for', and in bib tights that often means spending up to four times this amount to get the comfort and quality you want. However, Caratti's Pro Windproof Bib Tights give me pause for thought on that – and they should for you too, because as a back-to-basics everyday bib tight for commuting and shorter weekend rides, they're very good indeed.
Why only shorter rides and commutes? Well, the fact is that the chamois is pretty basic. It features ergonomic ridges that help it mould well to your shape, but each individual section has the same density, so I wouldn't describe it as graded – but then neither does Caratti, to be fair. That density isn't all that, well, dense... so the comfort and vibration damping through the saddle isn't anything to write home about. I was fine with rides of up to 60km, but for any longer I was looking to switch back to more premium models in my collection.
Let's be real for a second, though: everyday riders (as opposed to heavy-duty or performance-orientated riders) tend to need bib tights for winter convenience – whether for snuck-in rides, commuting or something like that – and if you simply need them for that kind of use, these are right on the money. Beginners or novices can also rest assured that this is all they need to spend for a first winter or two venturing out on the bike as well.
The main fabric is designed to be windproof, and while at this price you're not going to see any flashy technical fabrics, it does a decent job of keeping off the worst of windchill. It's a little lightweight when you're right into close-to-freezing ambient temperatures, but anything around 4-5 degrees or more is within its range.
Work harder, of course, and you might be able to reduce that temperature by a couple of degrees. You might be tempted to as well, given that the performance cut of the legs is very comfortable and well-shaped around the leg using panels. You can see in our shots of the tights how little bunching there is even in standing shots, which you don't always see in tights costing maybe three times more.
The inside of the entire bib tight is lined with tried-and-tested thermal Roubaix fabric, and that just adds to the overall comfort, while I'm impressed with the tidiness of the seams at this price point. They're well positioned, too, with that panelling, so chafing was never an issue for me.
The exception to this – on me, anyway – was the zipped ankles. I found the zips lined up almost exactly over my Achilles' tendons. It's unfortunate as I suspect that my ankle shape just isn't suited to them even with socks on, but it's worth bearing in mind when you get a chance to try them on.
The textured rubber gripper helps keep the cuffs in place, while up top I'm also more than happy with the quality of the bib section. The mid-section is Roubaix-lined for added insulation, and the straps sit nicely on the shoulders. They're simple in construction with seams edging the straps themselves, and while you can feel that in comparison to flat-style straps, they're not uncomfortable for it. I did get a couple of strap marks on my skin after the longer of my test rides, but as I say, I wasn't uncomfortable.
Simpler bib tights like these often require simpler care, and I was happy to stick them in with my usual 40-degree wash cycles. They wash through well, and I've not noticed any telltale signs of degradation in either the seams or the fabric itself.
All this together means that I consider £55 a genuinely great deal. They significantly undercut Ribble's decent bargain Nuovo bib tights (£85) and Kalf's excellent Club Thermal tights too (£100). Sure, I don't think I'd want to use them for long winter rides, primarily because of the lack of plushness in the chamois, nor in really freezing temperatures, but other than that they'll see you through your everyday winter commute and short rides.
Don't be put off by the bargain price – these are top value workhorses
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Caratti Pro Windproof Bib Tights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Caratti says: "This bib tight is made for everyday riding, whether it be road, mountain, leisure or commuting."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Italian designed cut and fit to give an anatomical shape.
- Windproof front panel, protects from wind chill impact on the front of the knee and thighs
- Extra panelling to help comfort
- The bib is designed with a mesh back to aid ventilation and body temperature regulation
- Rubber Ankle gripper
- Reflective liner along a YKK ankle zip to give you more visibility on the move
- Warm, thermal fleeced Roubaix fabric perfect for winter riding
- The Chamois is ergonomically shaped with a high density and elasticated foam to give a quality feel to a lower priced short.
For this price, I'm really impressed with the quality.
They do what they say on the tin and this mark measures them against far more expensive opposition, but at this bottom-level price the performance is very impressive.
No emerging flaws to speak of yet, although always avoid rough wooden garden furniture and Velcro!
I really like the performance cut here – aside from the technical treatment, it puts me in mind of £135 Santini bib tights I tested earlier this winter (see value comparison).
Sized really well on me – a medium is true.
Only real weak points here are the basic chamois and the ankle zips (the latter for me, anyway).
At £55, these are a real steal.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easily, no concerns.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well – especially for the beginner and commuter workhorse job.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Top value, good leg comfort, decently warm.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Chamois lacking padding.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
In terms of price, these significantly undercut Ribble's decent bargain Nuovo bib tights (£85) and Kalf's excellent Club Thermal tights too (£100). In terms of performance these tights can meet the challenge of those, in my view, and you're saving yourself a few notes on the way.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? For commuting workhorses, why not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, especially those dipping their toes into winter road cycling or cycle commuting.
Use this box to explain your overall score
For the money, and at £55 that has to be the top concern here, you get some really competent bib tights that really perform well. At this price, they don't have to last more than a season – but I suspect that they probably will.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding