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Pas Normal Studios Men’s Essential Thermal Knickers



If you're into thermal 3/4s then they don't get too much better than this – nor pricier
Brilliant fit and cut
Well insulated down to single digits
Good rain deflection
Very comfortable chamois
Soft inner fleece
Really stretchy straps aid with fit
Good environmental credentials and transparency
Minimal reflectives
Colossal price tag
Be careful with the sizing

At 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.

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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

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The Pas Normal Studios Essential Thermal Knickers are super smart, very well made and high-performing three-quarter-length bib shorts that will stretch your wallet beyond the price of most full-length leggings. The technical specifications are excellent and they look great, but getting a pair is definitely an investment.

For more options, check out our guide to the best 3/4 length cycling shorts.

A three-quarter length isn't for everyone, but if you are keen to have more breeze around the ankles, less weight and more freedom than a full set permits, the Essential Knickers provide excellent insulation, and the articulated fit really does contribute to a supremely comfortable ride. They're even available in four colours – black, navy, dark olive and dark celeste (light green).

> Buy now: Pas Normal Studios Essential Thermal Knickers for £220 from PNS

The first thing to mention is how comfortable these are to wear. The 'articulated knee' might sound like a bionic replacement, but it's actually a set of four interlocking panels brought together with extremely soft but sturdy stitching. Because of this, the knee moves within soft fabric and never brushes against any stitches. When you hold the knickers up, there is a clear bend in the fabric to adjust to the curvature of the leg.

2023 Pas Normal Studios Men's Essential Thermal Knickers - seams.jpg

The chamois, according to PNS, has four layers, and this made for excellent pressure-point padding. On rides of up to 75km, and even on the trainer when I was seated for long stretches, I didn't feel any discomfort.

2023 Pas Normal Studios Men's Essential Thermal Knickers - chamois.jpg

The extension of the fabric over the knee, as you'd expect, keeps the joint warm without any of the fuss of a removable layer. The wind protection is good but there is no specific windblocking panelling here.

The core thermal properties are particularly impressive and did a good job of keeping me warm even when walking around off the bike.

2023 Pas Normal Studios Men's Essential Thermal Knickers - back.jpg

I wore these on rides down to the low single digits and they kept me warm throughout. PNS rates the insulation as 5/5, though it also rates its Deep Winter bibs as 5/5, which go down to -10°C.

The shortened length of the legs means you are always subjected to more cooling breeze than you would be in ordinary leggings. Perhaps that increases the likelihood that the knickers will feel breathable, but either way, I was never concerned about the heat of my thighs during testing, even when I was doing efforts on pretty pleasant autumn days. Enough warmth does seem to escape to keep the legs happy.

2023 Pas Normal Studios Men's Essential Thermal Knickers - legs back.jpg

The Essential Knickers use SuperRoubaix fabric supplied by MITI in Italy. This company is part of the Bluesign agreement that encourages environmental transparency and accountability, so PNS gets some points for sustainability.

The material is fleecy and soft to the touch, and the durable water repellent (DWR) treatment does work for light showers. It took around 30 minutes of persistent rain before I felt the fabric really soaking up precipitation. Thankfully I didn't get to test the anti-abrasive claim, but hopefully that should improve durability and resistance to icy tumbles.

2023 Pas Normal Studios Men's Essential Thermal Knickers - back detail.jpg

I was a little bit miffed by the sizing. PNS's model wears a size M and is 193cm tall; I'm 188cm, but perhaps I have a particularly long body as these were a little on the snug side (though the very stretchy straps helped). I haven't found sizing to be an issue with other brands, so if you are between sizes I would err on the side of the larger for PNS bibs.

2023 Pas Normal Studios Men's Essential Thermal Knickers - straps front.jpg


Excellent as these knickers are, £230 is a big investment. That makes them only £30 cheaper than leading thermal leggings from premium brands like MAAP with its Team Evo Thermal bib tights that Jamie tested last year.

I was impressed by the performance, as the knickers did not fall down, as it were, in any department really. Perhaps the windproofing could be improved but that would have a knock-on effect on the stretchy flexibility of the material and the low weight. Clearly, Pas Normal Studios is at the more 'boutique' end of the cycling apparel spectrum, so you are certainly paying for the branding and the looks, but to give the company its due there are good environmental credentials here and they are incredibly comfy.

Since 3/4s are something of a niche product, there isn't a glut of comparable items, especially at this price point.

Though we haven't reviewed them, the Le Col Hors Categorie 3/4 Bib Tights are £220 and have a similar specification. Made from hydrophobic fabric, they have better reflective detailing than the PNS knickers and incorporate some lighter fabric for breathability behind the knees. Plus you can pick them up for significantly less in the sales.

Castelli – and mainland Europe in general – is more keen on the knicker, offering two different types. Its Tutto Nano Bib Knicker costs £150 and is more of an all-season all-rounder than the PNS knickers, with Castelli only recommending them down to 9°C. Thanks to the Nano Flex 3G material, Castelli claims they are good in all conditions, with water resistance, insulation and breathability.

The dhb Aeron FTL Roubaix 3/4 Bib tights are far cheaper at just £90 and feature in our buyer's guide. They feature fleecing for cold temperatures, 'Flashing Light Technology' for super-high visibility, and share the Bluesign tag of the Pas Normal Studios knickers.


While undeniably pricey, these PNS knickers offer excellent performance to keep you warm and pretty dry during the shoulder months of autumn and spring, even into winter.


If you're into thermal 3/4s then they don't get too much better than this – nor pricier test report

Make and model: Pas Normal Studios Men's Essential Thermal Knickers

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

Pas Normal Studios says: "The Essential Thermal Knickers provide extra coverage to the knees. Keeping the most dynamic joints of your legs covered and protected means you can keep the efficiency up. And at the same time reduce the risk of injuries when going hard in colder months.

Packed with innovative fabric technology, The Essential Thermal Knickers feature the renowned M.I.T.I. SuperRoubaix fleece with a DWR treatment and an anti-abrasive finishing for excellent water repellent capabilities and increased durability. The heavier, brushed fleece surface provides exceptional insulation but is not too thick to restrict mobility. The raw edges of the straps keep the bibs flat against your body and a soft mesh backing makes this piece highly breathable."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Pas Normal Studios:

M.I.T.I SuperRoubaix fabric

Articulated knee for natural knee bend

DWR treated and anti-abrasive

Innovative four-layer chamois pad

Pas Normal Studios branding on both legs, Essential-branding on back

Black reflective tabs on the legs

Made in Italy

Rate the product for quality of construction:

While the stitching is visible, you won't feel its smooth - slightly raised - profile. Elsewhere, everything is excellently constructed and never gave me cause for concern.

Rate the product for performance:

Didn't fall short in any of the claimed performance strengths. Thoroughly warm for relatively thin-feeling material.

Rate the product for durability:

No issues at all, and contain an anti-abrasive finish which PNS claims will increase durability.

Rate the product for fit:

PNS lists this as halfway between loose and tight, but I would lean slightly towards the tighter side. No deep compression but definitely no slack anywhere.

Rate the product for sizing:

For me it sized up a little small. The website says a 193cm male wears a medium. I am 188cm and a medium was slightly too small, with the straps needing to do a bit too much work.

Rate the product for weight:
Rate the product for comfort:

A really comfy pair of bibs.

Rate the product for value:

They're around the same price as the Le Col equivalents (£220), which offer almost all of the same benefits.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

No issues following the straightforward guidelines.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

These bibs are made for cold and windy conditions and they looked after me well. If you want some bulked-up wind protection perhaps some windproof panels would be handy, but that would take away from the flexibility of the fabric.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

That they provide excellent insulation while still feeling light and flexible. They also look great.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Minimal reflectives and the unpredictable sizing structure.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

By far the most expensive 3/4 lengths tested on, but just a tenner more than fellow high-end brand Le Col's winter-specific knickers.

They're significantly more expensive than the Castelli Tutto Nanos at £150, which will function most of the year round, though they don't offer the same thermal protection. The dhbs are a third of the price and worth looking into as they scored well in our review.

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 small cons of these knickers are totally outweighed by their fundamental strengths. Brilliant construction, strong insulation, breathability, and windproofing alongside reasonable water-repellency make them a great companion for the autumn/spring and parts of winter.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 34  Height: 187cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride: Pearson Hammerandtongs  My best bike is:

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: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Ultra endurance

Add new comment


mtbtomo | 4 months ago
1 like

I'm either not up with the newest brands or it seems theres a lot of new "premium" brands chancing it on charging crazy prices on shorts and leg wear at the moment. Are they really substantially better than dhb, Castelli, Sportful - the ones that have established long-standing reputations at their respective price points. And more likely to pick those up at a sale price too. Seems a fancy name and an extortionate price and enough people will fall for it? Or am I being cynical?

wtjs replied to mtbtomo | 4 months ago

Or am I being cynical?


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