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Verdict: 
Exemplary warmth and excellent fit; very effective winter leg warmers
Weight: 
296g
Contact: 
www.sportful.com

Exemplary warmth and excellent fit make Sportful's new R&D bib tights very effective winter leg warmers and the padded insert is comfortable for the longest rides you have planned.

Sportful make these new R&D bib tights using three fabrics. They're mostly ThermoDrytex Double, a 3-layer fleece with hollow-core polyester liner, with ThermoDrytex PL+ fabric on the thighs and knees, and ThermoDrytex Plus on the back panels to provide more stretch.

Sounds complex, but the use of the different materials provide maximum insulation and protection from the wind and rain where you need it most, and extra stretch and breathability where it's needed to ensure there is absolutely no restriction on freedom of movement when you're pedalling.

The reason the tights are so effective in the cold, and they're really very good even in sub-zero temperatures, is down to the Thermorytex Double fabric. This fabric uses a nylon outer face with a water-resistant finish and is fleece-lined, and the hollow core yarn traps warm air and effectively moves sweat away from the skin.

This is paired with the ThermoDrytex PL+ fabric on the knees and thighs to boost wind protection, and the less thermal but stretchier ThermoDrytex Plus fabric on the back of the legs ramps up comfort and increases breathability, as this material doesn't need to be windproof, it helps with temperature regulation.

I've used these tights in a wide range of conditions, including sub-zero early morning rides, and I've been amazed at just how much warmth they provide, despite their apparent thinness and lack of restriction - some similarly warm and water-resistant tights have a trade-off in total comfort. That's the not case with these Sportful tights

With tights it is critical that the fit and shape is spot-on around the knees to provide comfort and the full range of unhindered movement you need for pedalling. Some tights get it quite wrong, some are close to perfect, these Sportful R&D tights are perfect. The fit really is exceptional around the entire legs and especially around the knees.

The only other tights I feel come close in terms of fit are Castelli's Sorpaso Win, and howies padded bib tights, but the former are £40 more expensive than the Sportful tights and the howies tights lack the warmth and insulation that the Sportful tights provide.

Inside the bib tights Sportful employ their TC Pro pad, the same pad they use in their Total Comfort and BodyFit Pro tights and shorts. It uses varying density and thickness foam, 14mm at its most plush and tapers down to 9mm, so there is more cushioning where you need it most, around the sit bones, and less where it's not needed. The pad is attached to the bib tights using a 'press-to-zero' edge which minimises the potential for a nasty edge to chafe, instead it's smooth and seamless. It's a really comfortable insert, good enough for 6+ hour rides.

The tights are constructed with flat lock stitching throughout. There are zipped ankles and some some reflective piping around the ankles and the discrete logos up the legs make these tights look nicely understated. The tights have wide soft bib straps that loop comfortably over the shoulders and the back straps are attached in the middle which stops them shifting about and provides good support.

I'm minded to try and find a fault with these tights, but I've been scratching my head and struggling to come up with any. You could point to the price, but they're cheaper than similar offerings from Rapha, Castelli and Assos and these are in no way inferior to those more expensive alternatives. The Rapha Deep Winter bib tights I tested recently do offer better wet weather protection, but they don't have the same freedom of movement as the R&D tights, and they're nearly twice the price.

When it's really cold outdoors, these new Sportful R&D bib tights are what I reach for.

The Sportful R&D bib tights are available in seven sizes and one colour option.

Verdict

Exemplary warmth and excellent fit make Sportful's new R&D bib tights very effective winter leg warmers

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Sportful R&D bib tights

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?

The advanced high-loft dual-layer fleece front of this tight makes it great in an exceptionally wide range of conditions, especially when the mercury starts edging toward freezing. Our best features are all in there, including the Total Comfort bib straps and the Total Comfort Pro seat pad. A perfect match for the new Alpha technology R&D jacket.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

ThermoDrytex Double 2-layer fleece with hollow-core polyester inside

ThermoDrytex PL+ thighs and knees for excellent wicking

ThermoDrytex Plus back for maximum stretch

Flat lock stitching

Total Comfort Pro seat pad

Total Comfort bib straps

YKK® Camlock ankle zips with reflective piping and lay-flat elastic

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
10/10
Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Just about the best winter tights I've yet tested, excellent in the cold and good in the rain too. These set the benchmark

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Super comfort and warmth, almost makes riding in bitterly harsh weather a joy.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Maybe some more generous reflective details would be appreciated for those who commute or train in the dark.

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?

These winter tights are superb, and set the benchmark, offering a lot of comfort and performance for the money.

Overall rating: 9/10

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.

18 comments

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [962 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Iamnot Wiggins wrote:

A good review in return for a ride with Tinkoff Saxo in Belgium. Seems a good trade.

What are you insinuating?

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [962 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Iamnot Wiggins wrote:

Cycling journalism is synonymous with good reviews for large advertising revenue for the magazine/website & free trips away.

"This bike is the greatest bike I've ever ridden 10/10" followed by a glossy 2 page advert...

Well you're wrong, and your cynicism is completely misplaced here

Avatar
sethpistol [90 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Iamnot Wiggins wrote:

Cycling journalism is synonymous with good reviews for large advertising revenue for the magazine/website & free trips away.

"This bike is the greatest bike I've ever ridden 10/10" followed by a glossy 2 page advert...

I'd assume that from plenty of bike/car/lifestyle journalists but not from David, I've seen reviews where he has been pretty critical of brands that have probably spent quite a lot of money with Road.cc and glowing reviews of stuff from total underdogs that probably couldn't afford to buy Dave a beer!

Have you ridden in these bibtights? They are pretty awesome!

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Speedystevie [8 posts] 4 years ago
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Hear, hear, bib tights are great, like to see more reflective stripes.

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bfaz [10 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

these are great bibtights, and the price certainly shouldn't be a fault - think i paid around £80 from Probikekit on sale and with one of their frequent 'we miss you' %-off vouchers. I found the fit slightly more snug than their r&d bibshorts, and the one time I wore these without a base layer my nipples were sore as hell. (Though admittedly wearing bibtights without a base layer isn't something ppl are likely to do regularly).

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andyp [1608 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

These look great....but no 'no pad' option?

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Chuck [590 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Iamnot Wiggins wrote:

Am I though? We'll never know...

You're talking as if you do know. So let's have the details of this deal? Or maybe...

Avatar
maldin [149 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

 20

Iamnot Wiggins wrote:

Cycling journalism is synonymous with good reviews for large advertising revenue for the magazine/website & free trips away.

"This bike is the greatest bike I've ever ridden 10/10" followed by a glossy 2 page advert...

If you don't trust the site's free-to-read reviews, it is easily solved by not reading them. Most other people take them for what they are - an opinion by someone who tests multiple similar items. Even if the reviewer thinks they are great, they might not have the features I want, but at least from reading the review I have an idea what features the item has and I can make my own judgement. You know what they say about free advice....

Avatar
LondonDynaslow [264 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
andyp wrote:

These look great....but no 'no pad' option?

This could be listed as one of the faults that "could not be found"! Padless tights are very useful as you don't have to wash them as often (and therefore don't have to own as many!).

Avatar
mrmo [2097 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
deblemund wrote:
andyp wrote:

These look great....but no 'no pad' option?

This could be listed as one of the faults that "could not be found"! Padless tights are very useful as you don't have to wash them as often (and therefore don't have to own as many!).

I commute most days and there is a limit to how many £100+ winter tights I can afford. A couple of pairs of shorts and you can get away without having to wash daily, which in my experience is not the best thing for the materials longevity.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2937 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
deblemund wrote:
andyp wrote:

These look great....but no 'no pad' option?

This could be listed as one of the faults that "could not be found"! Padless tights are very useful as you don't have to wash them as often (and therefore don't have to own as many!).

I really don't think their lack of lack of pad can be classed as a fault of the tights themselves - do you ? You might say that it'd be nicer if Sportful did a pad-less version of these, like they do with the Tour, but it's not the fault of the ones that do have one.

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bobbk [21 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Sportful hits the sweet spot for me: good quality, good performance, not to expensive and not too garish.

Avatar
LondonDynaslow [264 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:
deblemund wrote:
andyp wrote:

These look great....but no 'no pad' option?

This could be listed as one of the faults that "could not be found"! Padless tights are very useful as you don't have to wash them as often (and therefore don't have to own as many!).

I really don't think their lack of lack of pad can be classed as a fault of the tights themselves - do you ? You might say that it'd be nicer if Sportful did a pad-less version of these, like they do with the Tour, but it's not the fault of the ones that do have one.

Well it's a fault of the range, I think. Just my view.. I have that pad in my shorts, though, and it's excellent. I like Sportful stuff a lot, and I thought it was a shame that I had to go elsewhere for padless tights.

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maldin [149 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
andyp wrote:

These look great....but no 'no pad' option?

On that topic, who does make padless winter tights these days? I have a pair of Castelli Fluido nano flex tights which are superb and came in a padless version. However, Castelli in their wisdom have discontinued them and now only seem to offer padded version of all their tights. The same appears to be true of Sportful. I can't seem to find any one selling any decent tights without pads these days. Any ideas?

Avatar
fukawitribe [2937 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
maldin wrote:
andyp wrote:

These look great....but no 'no pad' option?

On that topic, who does make padless winter tights these days?

Off top of my head - Sportful do a ThermoDrytex one (Tour), Castelli (Velocissimo in the AW14), Assos (IIRC anyway)... probably some more.

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DeanF316 [136 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Having recently bought several Sportful winter clothing products I can only agree with Dave on their products. Sportful are what Asso use to be, top quality kit for serious racing cyclists.

The prices are very reasonable considering the excellent performance, fit and quality.

Avatar
rjfrussell [534 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
DeanF316 wrote:

Having recently bought several Sportful winter clothing products I can only agree with Dave on their products. Sportful are what Asso use to be, top quality kit for serious racing cyclists.

The prices are very reasonable considering the excellent performance, fit and quality.

Even for pootlers like me, the Sportful kit is great. Doesn't have to be only for serious racers.

Avatar
Curly [78 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
maldin wrote:
andyp wrote:

These look great....but no 'no pad' option?

On that topic, who does make padless winter tights these days? I have a pair of Castelli Fluido nano flex tights which are superb and came in a padless version. However, Castelli in their wisdom have discontinued them and now only seem to offer padded version of all their tights. The same appears to be true of Sportful. I can't seem to find any one selling any decent tights without pads these days. Any ideas?

Lusso do Roubaix bibs,Repel bibs and windtex bibs all without pads! And made in the
UK to boot, great fit and plenty warm enough for this weather!