AnaNichoola's Cafe tights hide technical features in a pair of basic black leggings.
The best thing about these leggings is the waistband. It has been designed to avoid a muffin top and even with my excess tummy it does a job similar to Spanks hold-em-in underwear with none of the red marks those leave.
The main material is billed as Ultra-warm, breathable Italian ThermoRoubaix fabric and I found it quite, but not ultra-warm. The fabric seems to be a fairly standard thickness when compared to similar items. The tights are certainly breathable and don't feel sweaty when riding apart from the fleece gusset. The fabric's opaque so no knicker fabric shows through if you're wearing them round town. Unfortunately the fabric is quite delicate and holed when I caught my knee on a sharp edge. However the fabric didn't ladder at all so the hole didn't spread.
I was confused by the fleece gusset. I took one for the team and tried going commando which was decidedly icky as fleece is not known for its ability to deal with (sorry) any discharge or sweat and I would have not wanted to have spent the rest of the day at the office in them.
This begs the question: why have soft fabric 'down under' if it's not meant to be skin to skin? Wearing shorts underneath left a line mid thigh and meant two waistbands. I'm surprised by the lack of chamois or a matching liner as these are billed as technical tights. Having said that a second road.cc tester went out for a 15 mile Breeze ride in her tights with no pants and no padding and found them perfectly comfy. The tights are machine washable at 40 degrees, probably because of the lack of chamois, so could be popped in with most of your other washing.
AnaNichoola clothing tends to come up very small, as noted in previous reviews. I tested the XL tights, and out of the bag they look absolutely tiny. I was quite surprised that they fit at all. It was pretty tough to get the waistband over my ample arse but once that was accomplished everything did stay in place and while they were too tight to provide the thermal benefits, I could wear them for extended periods without discomfort. There was no danger of these tights sagging or falling down; they were staying put for the duration.
I found the whole on/off experience similar to getting on skinny jeans - it involved quite a bit of wiggling but was worth the effort. I am 5ft 6in and the length suited my average length legs fine, with no excess material at the heel.
My biggest gripe is with the sizing listed on the website. I am a pretty standard size 16 off the peg and make no bones about it. A previous AnaNichoola purchase listed the XL as 16-18 which I found to be spot on as it was not tight on me at all. However the Autumn/Winter range has a revised size guide which pitches the measurements of an average sized woman correctly for the XS (4-6) and the S (8-10) but then goes rather awry. The M is listed as a 12-14 but matches other stores' 10-12 sizing, the L is billed as 16-18 but fits a typical 14-16, and the XL which just about fits me as a size 16 is billed as 20-22! For comparison I used M&S, Gap and Next size guides.
I really found this off-putting as I'm happy to acknowledge that I take XL in cycling gear, but I really am nowhere near a size 20-22. We're used to companies flattering their customers by up sizing without changing the label (Altura are generous in this way with an extra few centimetres to usual on the waistband), but this way round won't serve women's egos well at all.
There is a limit to how stylish black tight-fitting leggings can be but I like the trademark AnaNichoola hoops on the ankle, which match the other garments in the range.
The fleece gusset extends quite far down the thigh, so I felt it was noticable when off the bike. I would disagree with the marketing which says that they are smart enough to wear in the office, unless you work in a particularly casual environment. They look less like cyclewear than most of the competition, however, so if leggings form part of your non-cycling wardrobe, these will do you double duty on and off the bike.
Cheap enough to be a staple item in your wardrobe, but slightly fragile material and very small sizing.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ana Nichoola Cafe Tights
Size tested: XL 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?
Leggings, everyone wears them, but unless they have specifically been designed for cycling you will be likely to notice some problems, but cycling leggings tend to look pretty out-of-place in the office. We thought about this at AnaNichoola, listened to our customers and have brought out a pair of tights in a warm performance fabric, using a cut and seams that are comfortable whilst riding, but simple enough to be worn with the smartest of tops once off the bike. The key consideration is that they are opaque, so you won't be showing your undies to any unsuspecting road-users, additionally they have our unique to AnaNichoola waistband and flatlocked gusset at contact with the saddle.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Ultra-warm, breathable Italian ThermoRoubaix fabric
- Unique AnaNichoola high back and dropped waist
- Flatlock stitching
- Soft fleece gusset
- AnaNichoola embroidered logo hoops
High quality of manufacture.
No bagginess or sagginess in the knees.
Rather fragile material.
Once on, I didn't notice them, and the waistband was very comfortable.
A sensible price for a wardrobe staple.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great for easy, everyday cycling.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The waistband design which didn't cut in or leave a mark. AnaNichoola's trademark logo is very simple but adds a subtle co-ordinating detail when worn with other products in the range.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The sizing. The fact the material caught and made a hole.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, still unsure about the crotch fabric.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but mostly to my skinny friends.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 5'7 Weight: size 16
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure