Taking Howies' cycling range into the winter are these new men's bib tights which use the same seamless knit construction style as the previously tested bib shorts.
In a world of logos and the current 80s neon revival the Howies are beautifully understated in plain black with a simple cut and style. The panels are contoured, pre-shaped if you like to fit you in the riding position and Howies' 'second skin fit' gives an almost compression like fit.
The seamlessly knitted description is a bit of a misnomer as there are still seams (this isn't just Howies mind, lots of other manufacturers use the 'seamless' claim) but they are flatlocked and kept to a minimum making them barely noticeable. The material on the whole is thicker than a lot of other lycras and the circular knitting process gives them a more robust, matt look than the usual shiny offerings.
I like a high front on my winter bibs to keep my stomach warm against windchill when descending or whenever you're slogging into that icy wind and thankfully the Howies bibs provide that. The back section is just as cosy providing plenty of cover without making you overheat.
The straps are a decent width meaning no pressure points especially as they pass over the tops of your shoulders. The right strap has neat little pocket sewn onto it to hold keys, cash or dare I even say it an mp3 player. I found this a lot more useful than I expected especially as most of my rain jackets only have one or no rear pockets.
If you're a daily rider the main benefit of the Howies tights is that they don't have a pad. They are intended to be worn over padded shorts so you can wear them day after day. That also makes them ideal as part of a layering system; with shorts and legwarmers (or long socks) underneath these bibs will happily go well down into the minus temperatures.
Comfort is the key though in this time of long steady rides to get those steady base miles in and the Howies deliver plenty of that thanks to fitting really well everywhere. The knit is ribbed at the bottom of the legs providing plenty of resistance to stop them from riding up and doing away with the need for silicone grippers or zips. There are also some reflective tabs attached to provide a small amount of visibility from the rear.
Overall the Howies bib tights are a no nonsense bit of kit. They are versatile, because you can layer them up, and at 69 quid they're good value for money. The Portuguese build quality is great and the thicker material has stood up well to everything thrown at it with no signs of wear whatsoever including a small off just before Christmas. As mentioned if you're a commuter or daily getting the miles in a pair of these means you can continue wearing your summer shorts, ideal for the budget conscious rider who wants to ride four seasons.
Size wise the medium tested here is the size I would have ordered myself and they fit me as a medium should, none of that miniscule Italian sizing here.
If you're used to wearing tights with an integrated pad the only criticism I have of the Howies tights is that it can feel a bit weird having another layer of lycra between your pad and the saddle; you tend to move about in the saddle a touch more. Saying that it's very minimal and you soon get used to it.
Well built, refreshingly simple bib tights, perfect for layering to suit the weather conditions, and comfy too.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Howies Bib tights
Size tested: Medium, Black
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?
The Howies are a padless pair of bib tights that are ideal for layering over shorts and leg warmers to deal with a large variation of temperatures. Well made and refreshingly simple.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- 96% Polyamide / 4% Elastane
- Second skin fit
- Integrated breathable, contoured panels
- Bib strap pocket (for keys / emergency cake money)
- Fast wicking back panel
- Ribbed hem with reflective tape
- Flatlocked stitching
- Made in Portugal
The price makes for good value in my eyes. Yes you can a get a decent pair of tights with pad for this money but I'll bet the Howie's will last longer due to the excellent build quality and tough material. The lack of washing after every ride should help longevity too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They are warm, hardwearing and comfortable, can't think of too much else you'd want from a pair of bib tights.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The simplicity and the fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not quite as comfortable a saddle/bum relationship as padded bib tights but not enough to put me off.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, absolutely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting, Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Sarto Rovigo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.