Keeping up your riding in the off-season months of autumn and winter can be a challenge, but it is a lot easier if you're warm and comfortable. Keep your legs protected in any weather by choosing the right cycling tights. We talk through some of the options.
During autumn and spring, weather can be unpredictable and the temperature can very widely throughout the day. You might find that it's not quite shorts weather but it's still too warm for full-on winter tights.
It is possible to extend the life of your shorts into the transitional seasons with the addition of leg warmers or knee warmers. The Castelli Nanoflex+ Knee Warmers are highly water resistant and thermal so they're perfect for chilly starts, especially if your knees are sensitive to the cold.
The next step, if you're just not ready for tights, is three-quarter length tights or 'knickers'. The half-way house between shorts and tights, these will keep your vital knee joints warm when the temperature drops below the high teens, but they allow air to continue to flow around your lower calves and ankles, providing a cooling effect.
Finally, if you've decided that it is time to cover the legs, there are some great lightweight options out there that offer protection from wind and rain without causing you to overheat. The Castelli LW Bib Tights have been cleverly constructed to provide a perfect balance between protection and freedom of movement. There's water-repellant Castelli Nano Light fabric on the lower leg and the body and straps are a lightweight mesh.
For intense efforts, the dhb Aeron Speed Bib Tights will keep you feeling dry and comfortable. The fabric around the pad is more thermal keeping these key areas protected from the elements whilst the side and lower leg panels are slightly fleecey but super-breathable. The all-new Elastic Interface® Paris HP Chamois has been rated for rides of over seven hours so you can stay out all day.
As the weather gets colder, look for tights made from thicker fabrics with a fleecy brushed lining, sometimes known as 'Roubaix.' This helps to insulate your legs by trapping warm air against your skin. Water-repellant finishes and breathable fabrics keep your skin dry which will minimize chill on descents or in the cold wind.
Many cold weather tights incorporate a high-cut bib panel, to keep your core well insulated, as well as ankle loops or zips that keep the heat sealed in and the cold out.
The Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro Bib Tights are a perfect all-rounder to get you through the worst of the winter weather. As the name suggests, the NoRain fabric keeps you dry, plus it's extremely wind repellant. The double-layered front will keep you warm on the coldest days and fastest descents.
For darker days, the dhb Aeron FLT Roubaix Bib Tights combine warmth, protection and comfort with subtle but highly reflective inserts on the thighs and lower legs so you will be extra-visible to other road users. The roubaix braces and mesh back panel feel great on the upper body even on longer rides.
When the mercury drops below five degrees celcius, it's time for the big guns. 'Extreme winter' tights are designed to keep you comfortable as you ride over snow strewn mountain passes, or blast through sleet and hail on the open moors.
The best extreme winter tights are designed with panels of different materials so that you get the most protection where you need it but you don't sacrifice freedom of movement or breathability. At the highest end, the Assos LL.bonkaTights_s7 feature a clever construction with additional layers where extra coverage is needed, plus a water resistant treatment. Stratagon windblock fabric protects the area between the crotch and abdomen from wind chill.
The Castelli Sorpasso 2 Wind Bib Tights have a Gore® Windstopper® X-Fast front panel from waist to knee to trap warmth where you need it most in temperatures between minus five and eight degrees celsius. The bottom and lower-legs are protected from road spray thanks to strategically placed Nano Flex Xtra Dry water-repellent fabric, and Thermoflex Core2 inserts help with wicking and breathability.