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The Le Col Sport Bib Tights II keep you very warm on cold, dry days and provide you with all-day comfort thanks to the cut, the overall quality of the material, the straps and chamois. About the only thing that stops them getting into our best winter bib tights buyer's guide is their lack of resistance to the elements when it starts to rain.
Le Col's updated Sport Bib Tights II are made using Italian fleece-lined fabric, which consists of 80% recycled nylon and 20% recycled elastane.
The update to the original Sport tights comes in a splash of colour on the rear calf panel, which adds visibility and increases safety during night-time rides.
My first impression on putting them on is that you could feel the comfort immediately, and riding on a cold winter's day it was as if your legs were receiving a warm embrace.
I reckon that thanks to the material's thermal qualities you could easily wear these into low single figures or even when the temperature's the wrong side of zero, provided you've got the right socks and footwear. The main drawback of the tights is when it starts to rain, when the material's lack of waterproofing or any water-resistant finish means it starts to absorb moisture straightaway.
The Sport Bib Tights II have a high-quality chamois. That's the claim from Le Col and after extensive testing I'd say I have to agree: it really is a comfortable, quality offering.
It offers plenty of coverage without being too bulky and I pushed the tights – and the chamois – to the limit on five-hour-plus rides in very wet conditions. The tights stood up to all the abuse I inflicted on them and I suffered no soreness or discomfort during or after even the longest rides. I was left very impressed.
I feel that some cycling clothing manufacturers overlook the interaction between the straps and your body, but not Le Col.
Le Col has created a pair of bib tights with a gentle yet supportive feel on your body for a fit-and-forget experience.
Every part is held in the right place – even the post-Christmas stomach is left feeling unrestricted from the perfect stretch.
I'm around 180cm tall and weigh 76kg and found the medium-size tights sized up perfectly, which makes me think Le Col's sizing is pretty much spot on.
This is the one area where I feel the tights let me down. Their lack of a waterproof membrane or a water-resistant coating means there's very little to stop water soaking into the material once it starts raining.
As a result, I'd suggest these are best suited to those dry yet chilly winter mornings. The material keeps you feeling toasty and warm even when a biting wind starts to cut through to the rest of you. But, but, but... once it starts to rain – and we're not sure of wet weather here – the material absorbs water and holds it close to your skin, just like any other non-waterproof longs.
I feel Le Col missed a chance to make these an extremely desirable addition to most people's winter wardrobe by eschewing water-resistance, though as I mention below, Le Col's dearer Pro tights do offer greater protection.
While the tights don't shrug off the rain, they keep out the cold superbly. I rode these during the winter freeze and can happily report they kept me warm when the average temperature was south of zero for the duration of some quite long deep-winter rides.
At £175 Le Col had to make a very competitive set of bib tights to keep you warm in winter, and though Le Col has certainly succeeded in this, the lack of special features can make choosing them over competing similarly priced products difficult.
For not very much more money, and if you're a fan of Le Col's products, £210 will get you a pair of its Pro Bib Tights that Ed really liked. These have the great advantage of a water-resistant finish that the Sport IIs lacked.
If you're looking to pay a little less but still want tights that will help in your battle against the rain, then the Stolen Goat Black Alpine Bodyline Bib Tights could also be your friend. These cost £160 but with material that stops the rain soaking you, they give the Le Cols a run for their money. They may be a little less cosy and Iwein felt the fit was more restrictive, but they will keep you dryer.
As with the Sport IIs, the Castelli Free Aero RC Bib Tights lack any special features, but Liam found them a warm, high-quality pair of tights and the front and the straps may be more stomach-friendly than the Le Cols, though these do cost £190.
I believe the second version of Le Col's Sport Bib Tights are some of the cosiest longs I've worn, and night-time safety has been aided by the addition of high-visibility calf panels. The lack of water-resistance is only negative.
Super-warm and extremely comfortable tights from the off and with a great chamois – but there's no water-resistance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Sport Bib Tights II
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
"An update to our original Sport Bib Tights, these tights keep the same thermal qualities that will help you ride comfortably in the cold, but with added visibility for low-light conditions when the evenings draw in"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The key features are:
Italian fleece-lined fabrics
Silicone leg gripper for a sturdy fit
Premium embroidered logos
Colour binding on bib uppers
High-quality foam chamois
Updated colour profiles
The tights are made from a material with a high-quality feel that keeps you warm when you're riding.
The performance was excellent in the dry and cold but they absorbed water when it rained.
I have no worries about long-term durability of the Le Col tights.
Very supportive but without being restrictive, the fit was very good
True to size.
Does weight really matter when you're choosing a pair of bib tights?
Excellent. Everything from the main material to the straps and chamois combine to deliver first-rate comfort.
At £175 the Le Cols are at the upper end of what you might pay – though you can easily pay more – but given their overall quality I think the price and value are actually pretty good.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They were very easy to clean and they came up well after some truly mucky rides that have been a feature of this winter.
Le Col's instructions are:
Machine wash at 30°C
Do not use fabric conditioner
Dry flat, do not tumble dry
Do not bleach, iron or dry clean
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The tights performed very well – keeping me warm during rides where the temperatures were extremely.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
These were comfortable from the first time I put them on and kept out the cold very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of water-resistance or waterproofing let these down, otherwise they would have been the complete package for winter riding.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
In the price range, there are a few options with different features,
Castelli's Free Aero RC Bibtights are £190, and also lack any waterproofing, but if you prefer Castelli's fit these are a suitable alternative.
Stolen Goat's Black Alpine Bodyline Bibtights are a good option if you're looking for a pair of waterproof bib tights, as are Le Col's own more expensive Pro tights.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes – very much so.
Would you consider buying the product? No – because of the lack of water-resistance.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – if they rode mainly on dryer winter days.
Use this box to explain your overall score
These immediately struck me as being incredibly toasty and comfortable, with the chamois providing no discomfort regardless of how long the ride was. However, the lack of waterproofing prevents me from giving these an even higher rating, which I feel would have made them among the best bib tights around.
About the tester
I usually ride: willier Cento Uno Air My best bike is: Ridley Kanzo Fast
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, mtb, Gravel, Multi Day Adventures