Female specific bib tights such as these Gore Bike Wear Oxygen women's bib tights are thin on the ground with a vicious circle stating that ‘women don’t wear bibs’ meaning manufacturers steer clear of making bib tights for women, which means women don’t wear bib tights, and so it continues. Gore Bike Wear however, are one of the handful of companies who do produce bib tights for women, and have done so consistently for some time.
Part of the perceived problem of female specific bib tights is physiological, in that women are fundamentally a different shape from men and busts of various dimensions can cause problems with the design of the upper part of the bibs. There are also more practical ‘comfort break’ issues associated with bib tights for women. When the trade off is between struggling out of a slightly awkward pair of bib tights when the need arises and looking a little like a rugby ball or suffering from a cold back and/or a waistband cutting in uncomfortably on a long ride, I know which I’d rather choose.
Gore Bike Wear’s Oxygen SO Lady Bibtights are designed with the coldest conditions in mind. Made from high quality windproof fabrics, with a soft fleecy backing, they are undeniably warm. Different densities of fabric and different levels of stretch are used throughout the tights, with tougher, more windproof soft shell type fabric appearing on the legs, where they are most vulnerable to windchill. The tights are available in two versions, one with a female specific integral chamois and one without. The ones I tested were the ones without the pad, which does give more flexibility for choosing your own liner and the ability to wear more than once before washing. The bib section and the tights are joined, but between the two is a zip that remains permanently fastened at one end, but unzips to allow for easier ‘comfort breaks’. Soft foot stirrups interact well with shoes and socks to block any drafts.
In wear the zip around the middle seems slightly surplus to requirements. Although it does allow for pulling down of the tights section without removing the top, this is still a little awkward and not entirely a simple exercise. If the presence of the zip did nothing to disturb the aesthetics of the tights, I’d say it was a good idea, but its inclusion does create an odd fit to the tights at the middle and ruins what would be an otherwise clean line in the design and fit, so on balance I’d probably have preferred it without the zip. The various fabric zones are nicely considered, with warmth and protection where you need it, but always allowing for a decent level of breathability, such that there’s rarely a feeling of uncomfortable dampness or overheating.
The upper bib section fits comfortably and allows for most sizes of bust. On the whole, sizing is quite neat, with the thigh area being a particular area to look out for. The firmer, soft shell type fabric zone here does not give as much as other stretchier fabrics, so it’s best to try before you buy especially if you are particularly tall or with more generous thighs. The tights are comfortable in use and offer good levels of warmth and windproofing, making cold weather rides much easier to stomach. Being machine washable at 40 also means they are easy to keep clean of the inevitable road grot.
At 342g for the size large, they are a touch heavier than most non-windproof Roubaix style bib longs, but that extra weight does provide better windproofing and foul weather protection.
These are definitely at the upper end of the, albeit very short, price spectrum for women’s bib tights, with pretty much only Assos offering a more expensive option. That said, they are well made, really do the job they are designed for, and should last for a good number of years. Most importantly, they take away the excuse ‘it’s too cold/damp/parky to ride’.
High quality, comfortable female specific bibs that'll cope with the coldest of weather. Pricy but worth it for making deep winter riding less of a chore.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Oxygen SO Lady bib tights
Size tested: L
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?
Windproof Bibtights for racing cyclists who know what they want. For cold, damp and winter weather.
Spot on. Bib tights may not appeal stylistically to more recreational cyclists, but these perform brilliantly on the bike through all that winter can throw at them.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Female specific fit
Mesh insert in back for optimum ventilation
Shifted seams for less chafing
Inseam length 9.5 inches
Gripper elastic on bottom hem
Abrasion resistant material at inside leg and saddle area
Reflective print on thigh
Reflective logo on hem
Made from different densities of stretch Windstopper soft shell fabrics- windproof, insulating and water resistant. Also highly breathable.
Machine washable at 40
342g for size L
Available in sizes XS-XXL - Size Large equates roughly to UK12-14
All extremely well constructed but zip around mid section does incur a lot of stress if used to allow the bottom half to drop for pee stops.
Kept me warm and free of wind chill in a variety of conditions from +7 or so down to well below zero, both in dry cold and damp/rain.
Breathed sufficiently well that perspiration not a problem, even when working hard.
All very durable apart from concerns about longevity of seam/zip interface at mid section.
Good weight given the windproof and weather shedding quality of the fabric. Roubaix style bibs are lighter but not as warm or protective.
Comfortable in wear and maintain good even body temperature.
Expensive but well made and should last well.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well. Zip down mid section trickier than intended and not as useful a design as you would at first imagine.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warmth, breathability, fit, comfort of bib section.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Mid section zip.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Good cold weather option and worth the investment to keep you riding during the winter.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,