Sportful's new Fiandre NoRain bib tights handle rain really well, keeping your legs drier than regular tights. Add good insulation for cold temperatures, impressive breathability and excellent comfort, and you have a great pair of bib tights for tackling the British winter.
Italian company Sportful introduced its NoRain technology, a proprietary water-repellent fabric, several years ago, and has gradually been rolling it out to even more garments. Its Fiandre range has also been expanding and these new Fiandre NoRain tights are a complete redesign of the previous version. And they're so much better for it.
The idea behind the Fiandre range is clothing that is ideal for cycling in cold and dry weather but can also cope with the rain. Weather in the UK can be really unpredictable and deciding how to dress isn't always easy. The Fiandre range is designed to make that decision easy, and these Fiandre NoRain tights are intended to offer more protection than the regular NoRain tights.
These redesigned tights have a second layer of NoRain fabric added over the top of the knees, thighs and around the bum. Sportful has managed to do this without compromising the fit and comfort – there's no detriment to knee articulation at all.
I've been out in heavy rain deliberately (someone has to), the sort when you get soaked through instantly, and the NoRain fabric really does make a significant difference. Look down and you can see it beading off the surface. It stops a huge amount of the rain from getting through. It's also really important to note that the fabric retains warmth, so you don't get cold legs when cycling in prolonged rain, like you do with regular tights in the rain.
So there's that, but there's also the NoRain bum flap. Because a lot of cyclists don't use mudguards, spray from the rear wheel can make the back of your bib tights soggy really quickly, and there are few things more unpleasant than a soggy bottom. So Sportful has added a second protection layer over the top of the bum, above the padded insert. But this panel isn't attached at the bottom, so it acts as a flap.
It looks a bit odd and raises some eyebrows when you show it to people. But go out for a ride and it does work. It's not a revelation, it won't guarantee to keep the top of your bum completely dry when riding along rain-soaked roads, but it does make a noticeable difference when compared with regular tights, and I've done comparison testing to find out. Essentially, this flap delays the onset of a soggy bottom.
On showery days when splashing through occasional puddles it works a treat. It provides just enough protection to stop you getting that horrible cold feeling at your lower back. Because the flap isn't attached to the main part of the tights – it sits a little proud – it serves to keep crud and spray from getting through to your skin. It won't keep prolonged road spray out forever, but does make a noticeable difference. And there was I thinking it was just a gimmick. It's an interesting little development from Sportful and while it won't change the world, it does a pretty good job at helping to keep the rain at bay for a bit longer.
The tights aren't just designed for wet weather cycling. As mentioned, the Fiandre range is intended to work well on cold and dry days, and it does. These tights are right at home on such days, when there is no rain forecast. Insulation is good, and there's not a hint of overheating when riding at a brisk pace or when the sun makes an appearance. That's the really smart thing about NoRain, you're getting a bit of rain protection without the compromise of other rainproof materials.
Fit is spot on. I tested a size medium, and they were just right around the bum, waist and legs, with enough length in the legs. The ankles have tall zippers, the bib straps are wide and stretchy, and the front of the bibs are lined with a mesh material to aid breathability. A few reflective details are good to see, but it wouldn't hurt to see a few more.
Inside the bibs is the same TC Pro padded insert that Sportful uses in other shorts across its range. It's a superbly comfortable pad, ideal for short blasts and 200km audaxes, and everything in between. It's also the same pad Sportful uses in its range-topping R&D bib tights. The pad has varying density and thickness foam, from 14mm at its most generous to 9mm nearer the edges. The pad is sewn into the bibs with a 'press-to-zero' technique, which basically ensures there is no risk of irritation down below.
Water-resistant bib tights that will keep you drier than regular bib tights, warm and comfortable too
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Make and model: Sportful Fiandre 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 says: "Extra protection from both wind and water in a tight that excels even in dry conditions.
"With an extra layer over the thighs, knees, and back, this tight provides more protection than our standard NoRain Bib Tight for the serious rider in extra-wet or cool conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
NoRain fabric: nanotechnology water-repellent outside, brushed fleece inside
Minimal seaming for additional water protection
Double layer of fabric on thighs and knees
NoRain rear flap provides extra protection from rear wheel spray
TC Pro seat pad
Usual top quality construction we've become used to from Sportful.
Excellent rain protection without compromising fit, comfort and warmth.
Early days, but so far so good.
The NoRain material doesn't negatively impact comfort like it did with the previous version of these tights, and the padded insert is proven comfort.
It's a lot of performance at a pretty decent price really. Every UK cyclist needs a pair of these in their winter cycling wardrobe.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keep you much drier than regular bib tights, and good in the cold too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Super comfort and great in the rain.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd like to see some more reflective details.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
For UK winter cycling a pair of these Fiandre NoRain tights could be considered essential, impressive in the rain but good in the cold and dry too.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180cm Weight: 67kg
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, mountain biking
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.