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The Mavic Athena women's tights are a little bit of winter luxury for your legs, perfect on dry, cold days. The 'Warm Tech' fabric (86% nylon, 14% elastane) is very stretchy and feels wonderfully warm and cosy against the skin, with its fleecy, brushed lining. The outer fabric seems durable too (having tested it by falling off my mountain bike, purely in the interest of research of course).
The tights themselves are made to last. I have a similar pair of Mavic tights, but without a pad, that I have used to commute in for the past four winters, and they still look pretty much as good as new. These Athenas are constructed from multiple panels of material of various shapes and sizes, which cleverly contour your legs and prevent any bagging or bunching at the knee when cycling.
There is a super deep waist panel at the front, which contributes to a fairly flattering fit, because it helps smooth your tummy. It sits below the waist, adding to the comfort of the fit because there's no digging in here when you're in the saddle. The elastic waistband at the back is adequately high, although not markedly so, but you'll be pairing these with a long winter jersey anyway.
The one thing that lets down these otherwise very good tights is the way the front of the pad is sewn in. When you're standing up, the seam edges stick out, which is especially obvious viewed from the side. However, a saving grace is that when you lean forward as you would in riding position, they then sit flush against your body. But, if you stop for a mid-ride coffee, you feel self-conscious walking around with a 'nappy' look.
As for the chamois itself, it is Mavic's 'Ergo 3D women's insert' featuring three different foam densities. You can clearly see the multiple layers (apparently there are six in total) from behind too, but the rear of the pad is more streamlined with the fabric than the front, thankfully. So do all the densities and thicknesses add up to supreme comfort? Well, I'm afraid I didn't find so – as with many pads, to be fair. It was comfy under my sit bones but I found there was just too much padding towards the front. However, chamois choice differs from person to person, so this doesn't mean it won't suit you.
A feature that demonstrates the attention to detail that French company Mavic gives to the design of its clothing is the asymmetrical zips at the ankle. Mavic say these 'Ergo' zips are positioned so as to limit any irritation and reduce pressure on sensitive points. They seem to have got the position about right here, as I wasn't aware of the zips at all once I'd done them up. The ankle bands have silicone gripper spots too. As a finishing touch, there are minimal reflective tabs by the ankle zips and on your behind.
Toasty warm women's padded tights for dry winter rides, made to last
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Make and model: Mavic Athena Tight
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Mavic says "Solid performance, warmth and durability in a women's non-bib tight." That's what's on offer - a padded winter tight for women like myself who don't get on with bibs (mainly due to inherent difficulties at loo stops!)
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Ergo 3D women's chamois insert offers comfort and performance via progressive cushioning, with 3 different densities and 6 different thicknesses of preshaped foam
Warm Tech fabric with a soft, brushed back
Ergo ankle zips and silicone ankle grippers
Well made tights but marked down because of the way the pad is poorly sewn in at front and sticks out.
Material seems quite abrasion-resistant, given that I fell off twice on a mountain bike ride and there was no sign of wear after the mud was washed off, although they were slow-speed falls.
The fabric and cut is great so would have scored higher but I found the pad too bulky for my preference.
Good quality tights but quite pricy considering the material isn't windproof or water-repellent.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These are well designed tights made from a durable fabric that keep your legs lovely and warm in cold weather. I didn't find the pad super comfy but then I don't like thick chamois.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The cut and the snug fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The way the front of the pad sticks out when you're not on the bike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I wouldn't buy this tight myself because of the pad, which I personally don't get on with, but I would buy the tights in a non-padded version.
Age: 43 Height: 170cm Weight: 60kg
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mtb, Audax