Look are more known for their unique bike frames than for their range of apparel, but the Excellence bib tights look to change that through the use of innovative materials. They do come with a few quirks though.
Foremost among these is the sizing which runs very large for the stated size (their sizing chart puts a medium roughly between most companies' medium and large, but in practise the cut is more generous than expected). I'm usually on the tall side (6ft 2in) for a medium and have to contend with sock gap at the bottom of each leg, but the Looks extended beyond my ankles. In the body, they are longer than usual too, but the difference is not as noticeable as the leg length.
Furthermore, the legs are cut such that the section of windproof fabric designed to cover the knees is located very low on the leg. Now, I've got long femurs in relation to my leg length, but even so, I found that the stitching at the top of the knee panel sat very close to my knee, and caused some slight irritation as a ride progressed. Even if I tried to reposition the knee panels by pulling the tights upwards, they would migrate back down over the course of a ride. On the positive side, the seams on the knee panel are flat-stitched so it never becomes too bothersome – it's more of a mental irritation than a physical one.
The big selling point of the Excellence bib tights is their use of 'Resistex Carbon' fabric, which combines, you guessed it, carbon filaments with the usual Lycra mix. Supposedly, this helps to reduce muscle fatigue by reducing the build-up of static electricity on the body, but until these benefits are shown in a peer-reviewed study, I remain sceptical.
The increased fabric electrical conductivity is also claimed to improve moisture evaporation – a claim made by a whole heap of manufacturers to justify the inclusion of carbon in their fabrics. Despite my scepticism, the Excellence tights were actually pretty good in this area which made them a good choice for days that started out cold but soon warmed up into the high single digits.
On the inside, the fabric has a brushed Roubaix feel which provides warmth and comfort. I found the tights were comfortable down to around the freezing mark, and could easily get one through a winter of serious riding.
Though some of the seams on the legs are taped on the outside, I wouldn't describe the tights as being waterproof. They do a good job of keeping off water spray, but they'll not keep a serious deluge at bay. That said, once wet, they do hold their warmth well so it's not like they are dry weather only.
Elsewhere, the design is well thought out and befits the high-quality expected of a pair of bib tights in this price range. The shoulder straps, for example, are made from a single seamless piece of lycra and are very wide to effectively distribute the pressure. As a result, the bib uppers are extremely comfortable with no irritation or pressure points on the shoulders. At the front, the bibs are cut below the belly button facilitating nature breaks and reducing the clamminess that can sometimes result from a high cut in this area.
The chamois pad is generous in size and well shaped. Higher density padding is employed to better support the seat bones, while channels run the length of the pad to improve ventilation. It's well positioned too, and suits a reasonably aggressive position on the bike with the hips rotated forwards.
One final very minor criticism is that ankle zips could be tad longer, as they currently don't make getting into and out of the tights as easy as it could be. This could easily be overlooked on a cheaper pair of tights, but at this premium price, little niggles like this are worth noting.
Versatile winter tights, featuring some innovative fabrics and a number of high quality touches, but pay attention to the sizing.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Look Excellence Long 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 Excellences are Look's top of the range tights, designed to provide "total protection against the elements: cold, rain and wind". In practise, they aren't the heaviest duty tights out there, but are perfectly adequate for a typical UK winter
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
FABRIC: RESISTEX® CARBON/SUPER ROUBAIX®
COLORS: BLACK WITH MONDRIAN ACCENTS
OTHER FEATURES: WINDSTOPPER® KNEE PANELS, LASER-CUT SEAMLESS STRAPS, HEAT-SEALED SEAMS, ANKLE ZIP, REFLECTIVE MARKINGS
The tights have a high quality feel to them with tidy and sturdy looking seams.
Very versatile, but the large sizing and slight issue with the placement of the knee panel could causes issues.
Very good so far.
The chamois pad is generous, comfortable and well positioned. The seem on the knee panel caused me some irritation.
In general, the quality is appropriate to the top end price tag, but the little niggles mean it's not exceptional value.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The seamless and wide shoulder staps.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The placement of the knee panel.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? There are better value options out there.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As long as they'd tried them on first.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canondale EVO Red My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 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, commuting, mtb,