At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.What the road.cc scores mean
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
The Northwave Fast Trail bib tights are designed for trail riding, but they're just as good for gravel or even winter road riding.
The main fabric is called Thermo Dream and has a firm but pleasing stretch. Inside it's a soft brushed finish that's very comfortable (and deals well with sweat), while the outside is apparently 'scuff resistant'. The attractive matt finish gives a little bit of grip on smooth saddles, too, unlike some shinier fabrics.
All this material (Bluesign approved as sustainably produced) is covered in tiny perforations that, presumably, help these tights stay so breathable despite their useful warmth. I found on milder days (in low double figures Celsius) I'd get warm and a little sweaty at times, but never feel close to boiling over or unpleasantly damp.
When it's cold and miserable these fend off wind and keep a good proportion of their warmth when soaked, too, which is all you can really ask for. I found them very comfortable and pretty versatile.
From mid-calf downwards at the front – and the knee downwards at the rear – they have water-resistant (10,000mm rating) panels on top of the main insulating fabric. These do a good job of stopping them getting waterlogged by road spray, and also made it easier to remove the tractor mud splashing up from the absolutely filthy Welsh back lanes. That said, the regular main fabric doesn't do that bad a job either – I stayed very comfortable all over.
What's not so good for me is the leg length, which is not well suited to shoes – I needed boots or shoe covers to cover my socks. The elasticated cuffs tend to sit a solid two inches above my ankle bone, and though I'm 6ft my legs are relatively short (my torso is relatively long).
In all other ways I found these a great fit in size Large, with a gently compressive yet unrestrictive squeeze all over, so I don't think it's the sizing, it's the cut. In fact, the marketing implies they're shaped specifically to work with Northwave's own winter shoes (which have boot-like collars).
It's bib straps I usually have an issue with, thanks to that long torso, but I found these very comfortable – despite them having a fairly strong elasticity.
I frequently despair at just how forcefully many bibs are suspended (they don't really take much holding up, stop trying to turn my shoulders into a toast rack!), but here it seems justified – these bib tights have pockets.
They're a stretchy mesh that's low-key enough not to look weird (at least, if you ask me) on a road bike, and big enough to take a modern phone in a case. You can stuff a fair bit of weight in them if you want, and the bibs – tall-sided as well as strongly braced – keep everything in place.
The knees also look different, as they have ribbed stretch panels (again on top of the main insulating fabric) that promise to resist wear and crash damage. I found them perfectly comfortable, and had no bunching in the thinner main fabric behind the knee.
Pad comfort is inevitably subjective, but I found the Explorer pad here very good. It's a triple-density open cell foam, and while at first I was worried about the broad front section, I had none of the problems with chafing I got with the also-broad pad in the Monton Pro 21 Winter Bibs. The Explorer pad is meant for long-distance comfort, and I found it just right.
You get some reflective strips and a logo for visibility, but they're fairly small and only on the front – I'd like to see some on the back of the lower legs too.
At £144.99 these are right there with a great deal of winter bibtights – there are a few cheaper options and a fair few more expensive ones, but £120-£150 is pretty common. The Albion Three Season Tights scored very highly at £150 recently, for instance (though they're also quite short in the leg), as did the Pactimo Men's Alpine Thermal Bib Tight, currently £139. The Albions don't have cargo pockets, though, while the (longer legged) Pactimos do.
If you're happy to forgo pockets and the more gravel-rugged build – or simply don't want to spend so much money – the Donda Principal Bib Tights are absolutely worth a look at £65.
These are great winter tights. Though technically designed for cross-country, they're warm, comfortable, breathable and completely unrestrictive – and those are all great for gravel riding and winter road training too. They're cut to work with winter boots/booties rather than shoes and could do with some reflectives on the back, but beyond that there's nothing much to hold them back at all.
Warm, comfortable, protective and well made – though the short legs work best with boots
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Fast Trail Bibtight
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
I put these on my legs, but let's see what Northwave says: "Fast Trail Bibtight has been designed for free spirits, to whom Northwave Lab dedicates a garment with unique details, the result of meticulous research into selected materials."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
1. Thermo Dream, certified by Bluesign®, is used for the lower part of the Bibtight, from the waist downwards. Brushed finished, stretchy, scuff resistant and easy to care for. The construction of the fabric with a brushed surface in contact with the skin guarantees outstanding thermal insulation. 2. Lower leg in Action Matt material, water resistant to 10,000 mm water columns, airtight, protects against splashes and dirt from wheels and is easy to clean with a cloth.
3. Stretch fabric knee
4. Explorer pad: with its particular open cell structure with three different densities, it guarantees excellent support over long distances (60 kg / m3 for improved comfort and 120 kg / m3 density with high vibration and shock absorption).
5. The internal silk-screen grip keeps the garment in place and overlaps the collar of our winter shoes, protecting them. 6. The upper part of the bibtight is structured with extra light mesh fabric combined with microfibre braces.
7. Two side pockets for extra storage.
8. Reflective details on the lower leg for additional visibility
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues in the usual cold wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – they stay warm and comfortable in the poor conditions, and feel strong enough to take the odd crash without complaint.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £144.99 these are right there with a great deal of winter bib tights – there are a few cheaper options and a fair few more expensive ones, but £120-£150 is pretty common. The Albion Three Season Tights scored very highly at £150 recently, for instance (though they're also quite short in the leg), as did the Pactimo Men's Alpine Thermal Bib Tight, currently £139. The Albions don't have cargo pockets, though, while the (longer legged) Pactimos do.
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
These fit and work very well, and both quality and attention to detail are impressive. Only Northwave's decisions on leg length and reflectives could really cause issues – they're a very solid 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,