The Bioracer Spitfire Tempest Protect Bibtight is designed for when the weather is at its worst. With impressive windproofing, the fear of getting cold is gone, and the pad is supremely comfortable, but the waterproofing isn't as good as some.
One reason I tend to dislike deep winter tights is the bulk of the material used to keep the elements at bay, which can restrict your pedalling movement. Feeling the weight of the Spitfires as I removed them from the packaging, I wasn't holding out for this to change, but after putting them on and going for a ride, the cut and fit mean they work really well and comfortably on the bike.
The biggest attribute to this comfort is the separate section at the rear of the knee. While they keep the windproof and waterproof Tempest Protect fabric on the front panels for protection, the back of the knee uses a much thinner, more traditional Lycra material which allows you to bend your legs time and time again without any bunching or restriction.
All the seams have been kept out of the way too, so there is no likelihood of irritation.
These tights are warm, very warm indeed, and you probably aren't going to be wanting to wear them much above 6-7°C. I wore them a few times when it was about 10°C and while I felt perfectly fine on the bike, when taking them off it was noticeable how clammy my legs were from the thick material and its fleece lining.
In temperatures closer to freezing there were no issues with breathability at all, and wearing the Bioracers on days when it was really windy, the material really comes into its own. I normally plan my rides so that I start off into the headwind, leaving the fun bit for the way home – so heading out with cold legs straight into an icy northerly wind often isn't that great an experience.
No such issues with the Spitfires: I warmed up quickly from the effort and stayed that way thanks to the insulated fabric.
Although the windproofing works brilliantly, I wasn't so enamoured by the waterproofing.
On a three-hour ride where it rained from start to finish, the fabric kept the water beading off for the first half an hour or so before it started to make its way through, and within another 20 minutes the tights were soaked through.
It wasn't a massive issue as the materials kept me warm, so I didn't pay much attention to it to be honest. Bioracer doesn't actually give a waterproof rating for the Spitfires so I can't actually say whether they achieved the level they should, but if keeping dry is your main concern then look elsewhere.
Bioracer uses multiple panels to construct these tights and that creates a very good fit. They're also very well made.
I've done a fair few hundred miles in the Spitfires and there is no wear anywhere on them, including the seams around the pad which can start to fray when in contact with the saddle for hours and hours.
The bib material is much thinner than the front panels on the legs for extra breathability, but it does still have a light fleece feel for warmth.
The front sits high over the stomach, giving extra warmth here, and the straps are wide as they pass over the shoulders, reducing the chance of any irritation or unwanted pressure here.
The legs are held in place by a thin stirrup strap and it works well. Not everyone likes these, but you don't notice them inside your shoes and they make sure everything stays where it should.
The calf sections are completely reflective, helping to get you noticed when riding in the dark.
The real highlight of the Spitfires, though, is the Vapor pad.
To look at it's nothing special – you won't see any relief channels or multiple density padding for comfort or to reduce pressure, it's just flat.
On New Year's Day I headed out for 100 miles with the majority of that on rough gravel tracks and the Vapor pad was basically unnoticeable. It did such an amazing job I never thought about it once or needed to shift my position on the saddle.
Bioracer says that the Vapor is made up of four layers: a friction-reducing, breathable top layer, with the next two layers taking care of breathability and moisture transport, and the main layer, the key player.
It's called Evapore, which is a 3D webbing with impressive damping qualities. Apparently when it is put under stress, so fully compressed, it changes into a rubberised state so that it still provides damping.
Whatever is going on, the pad is just brilliant, offering loads of comfort and support.
The Spitfires are priced at £132, which isn't unheard of for this type of product from other brands.
The quality is excellent throughout and all of the materials look and feel to be very robust, so they are likely to last plenty of seasons, even with constant wear through the winter months.
I was testing the Bioracers alongside the Santini Adapt Polartec Thermal C3 bib tights, and while they don't have any water resistant properties, they were very good at keeping me warm.
The Bioracers have the edge in properly cold temperatures, though, and they have a better, more comfortable pad. The Santinis will set you back £215 as well.
Offering some water resistance and thermal properties are the 7Mesh TK1 bib tights that Mike found to be very good indeed. They have an rrp of £150, though, so another £18 more than the Bioracers.
Coming in a fair bit less at £100 are the dhb Aeron Rain Defence bib tights. I liked the pad and the performance, but the thicker fabric didn't have as much give as I would like, and I found them a bit restrictive, unlike the Bioracers.
The Endura FS260 Pro Thermos which Jamie tested are also worth a look: they resist rain and wind well and have a great pad (if not calf fit, for Jamie), and are £99.99.
Overall, I really like the Bioracer Spitfire Tempest Protect bib tights – so much so that I'm hoping the temperatures are going to take a dive so I can get more use out of them! The pad is one of the best I've used, and while £132 is quite an outlay, taking the performance and quality into account I'd say they are worth it, provided waterproofing isn't your main goal.
Not as waterproof as some, but very warm, great quality and come with one of the best pads out there
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bioracer Spitfire Tempest Protect Bibtight
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Bioracer says, "Being both wind- and waterproof, the Spitfire Bibtight Tempest Protect pad is the ultimate bibtight for really cold days on the bike. The bibtight is breathable which means it can maintain a constant body temperature."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Warm and insulative bibtight for deep winter riding
Insulated fabric made of Tempest Protect
Preformed knee inserts
Vapor Men pad
Sizing is absolutely spot on to the guide.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
There is a bit of a contradiction between the written washing instructions and the symbols on the label. In the text Bioracer recommends handwash only and no tumble drying but the symbols say you can, and a 30 degree machine wash.
I went with the latter and have had no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're great in cold temperatures and the pad delivers a comfortable ride no matter how long you are out for.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent pad comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I was hoping for longer resistance to the rain.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There's quite a spread of prices for top quality bib tights, and while these are more expensive than the dhb version mentioned in the review the Bioracers are better fitting and offer more movement. I'd say they stack up pretty well against other brands we've tested.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The bib tights are very well made and are well designed, making the best use of the fabrics available. The real highlight is the pad, which makes up for the fact that the waterproofing isn't as good as I was expecting.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!