Performance is at the forefront of Sportful's design philosophy and this shows in the excellent NoRain bib tights, which rank as the best bib tights I've ever tested.
Key to Sportful's NoRain range, which also includes jackets, arm and knee warmers and bib shorts, is a proprietary fabric with a water repellant technology that ensures rain beads off the surface. What they're not is waterproof, but this finish prevents the fabric from holding onto the water and giving you that soggy feeling.
Now rather than a DWR coating, as used on waterproof jackets, which is merely a treatment applied to the surface of the fabric, the Sportful fabric has tiny nano-filaments of silicone integrated within the structure of the fabric. So it's there for ever, and isn't going to wear out over time.
There's usually a compromise in breathability with waterproof clothing, but that's not the case with the Sportful tights. Because of the unique makeup of the fabric the breathability is very good, and in fact there's no noticeable difference between a regular pair of tights from a rival company. You never get hot wearing them, which means that they're versatile enough to be worn even when it's not raining.
With their professional race team connection (they supply kit to Saxo Bank) it's no surprise that the fit is best described as racey. If you fit the definition of a racing whippet the fit will be perfect, otherwise I'd recommend taking a good hard look at the sizing chart on their website and consider sizing up.
They've opted for a simple cut with just a few panels, they've steered clear of complexity. And it works. There is a good degree of stretch in the material so that when cycling there's no hindrance or limit on your freedom of movement, demonstrating they've got the cut just right.
Getting them on in the first place is more of a challenge, and isn't helped by the lack of zipped ankle openings. The upshot however is that once you've got them on they feel like a second skin, very snug and very comfortable. Another benefit of the lack of multiple panels is they've been able to keep the stitching to an absolute minimum, ensuring there's less potential for irritation of the skin.
Inside the shorts they're softly lined making them comfortable next to the skin. And talking of comfort, the BodyFit Pro chamois provides ample comfort for even the longest days in the saddle. Variable levels of thickness place extra padding where it's needed most and the anatomic shape and lack of seams give a very high comfort factor.
You might think they're only suitable for riding in the rain, but you would be wrong. The fabric is sufficiently breathable that I've been happily wearing them on mild sunny days with no adverse effects. When it does rain, they're simply brilliant. Look down at your thighs when you're riding along and you can visibly see the water beading off and away. You're not going to stay completely dry on a wet ride, but I didn't get as sodden in these as I did in other tights that lacked any sort of weather proofing.
And when it gets cold the fabric provides good insulation ensuring you stay warm. They've been ridden hard, even doing a few off-road cyclocross training rides, and with regular 30 degree washing they still look as good as the day they were pulled out of their box.
For the unpredictability of the weather, Sportful's NoRain treatment is a godsend. It's no wonder I reach for them whenever I'm heading out in the evening for a couple of hours training in the wind, rain and dark.
Fantastic rain-beating fabric combined with great fit and comfort in a great pair of winter tights
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Norain bibtights
Size tested: Medium
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?
Sportful No-Rain bib tights are your ticket to a season of autumn/winter training. No-Rain fabric has a Silicone Nano treatment on the surface that sheds water so you stay warm, dry and comfortable in blustery winter conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
No-Rain fabric provides water repellency with no compromise to warmth or breathability
Minimal seams for enhanced waterproofing
Reflective tape inserts for visibility
BodyFit Pro Seatpad
Top notch construction and they've stood the test of time.
They keep you drier in the rain and work well when it's not raining, making them versatile for all weather conditions.
The water repellant technology is embedded within the fabric and they've been through many washing machine cycles at 30 degrees with no issues.
Fit is snug, this is proper racing fit stuff, so check the sizing chart if you're carrying a few extra kilos. The chamois produces good results even on longer rides.
They offer performance on a par with the very best, but they're not priced out of reach. The water resistance makes them very good value for money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I've been riding in all weathers and they've been brilliant. Whether it's chucking it down with rain or a bit of drizzle, my legs were noticeable drier and warmer with these tights.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit, cut and NoRain tech.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They're a bit hard to get on in the first place, particularly around the ankles.
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?
I've been very impressed with the NoRain technology, it's not hype, it really works. Great fit too, makes a change from baggy Lycra tights
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.