The Bontrager Velocis Stormshell bib tights are a waterproof, highly breathable and stretchy option for keeping you dry and comfortable when riding in wet conditions.
Bontrager describes the Velocis Stormshell bib tights as 'like a waterproof jacket for your legs', and that's exactly the right way to think of them. They're made mostly from the same fabric as the Bontrager Velocis Stormshell Jacket that Jez reviewed here on road.cc last November, and they're cut like a normal pair of bib tights. The idea is that you put them on over your existing cycling clothing (there's no seat pad included here).
Let's start with the Profila Stormshell fabric. It's a 2.5 layer material meaning that you get a face fabric, the waterproof/breathable layer, and a printed protective layer on the inside.
It has a waterproof rating of 10,000mm which means it'll keep out moderate and even heavy rain. All of the seams are taped like they are on a waterproof jacket, and after several washes that taping is still looking good with very little puckering and no lifting.
I've worn these lots in bad weather over the past few weeks and the waterproofing is really impressive. It's similar to that of a good waterproof jacket, which isn't surprising given the fabric used. Water ingress is negligible even when the rain is coming down hard, and as for mist, showers and road spray, there's no chance of it getting through.
In terms of breathability, the Profila Stormshell fabric has a 25,000g/m/24hr rating. That's high. Of course, every man and his dog says that their waterproof clothing is breathable, but out there in the real world these bib tights back up the claim. You will certainly get warmer when you put these on because the waterproof fabric is necessarily windproof too, but you'll stay remarkably free of sweat. It's genuinely surprising just how well these bib tights breathe.
I did a little experiment by using these on a dry day. I put on the usual bottom half clothing I'd wear for the 10°C temperature – a pair of roubaix bib tights without any windproof panels – wore these over the top and went for a mid-intensity ride for an hour. Yes, I felt warmer than I'd otherwise have been, but I didn't get uncomfortably sweaty. Not even close.
As Jez pointed out in his review of the Velocis Stormshell jacket, the seam taping doesn't breathe like the Profila Stormshell panels do, not surprisingly, so I had little damp lines on my normal bib tights where moisture hadn't escaped, but that wasn't really an issue. In general, these tights breathe extremely well.
Depending on the temperature, you might want to take the tights off when it stops raining to avoid overheating. That's a faff, to be honest, because you have to take your top layer off to remove the bib section, although waterproof zips at the ankles mean you can get them over shoes easily enough. Still, if you're out all day, spending a couple of minutes getting the tights on and off isn't a big deal in return for straying dry and comfortable. Rolled up, they'll fit into a jersey pocket.
In terms of fit, the Velocis Stormshell bib tights have a cut that's similar to that of most other bib tights so you can wear these over Lycra but not over everyday civvies. I found that the upper legs fitted as normal while the lower legs were a little bit baggy on me, but not so much that they flapped.
The fabric is stretchy, especially widthwise, so a close fit doesn't feel uncomfortable, and it hardly restricts movement. You can feel that you have the tights on on, and there's a swishing noise as you pedal, but they don't impede your cycling to any significant degree.
The straps are made from a micro-mesh fabric called Profila Dry. It's lightweight, perforated stuff that shifts sweat well and dries fast.
The ankles are elasticated for a close fit while gummy silicone on the inside holds the hems in place. A reasonable amount of reflective trim/print helps get you seen at night.
And the price? Well £139 isn't cheap, but if you ride a lot these tights will make coping with the British weather a much more pleasant experience so while they are a lot of money their performance justifies the price.
Waterproof and remarkably breathable bib tights for keeping you dry when the weather is against you
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Velocis Stormshell Bib Tight
Size tested: Medium, 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?
Bontrager says, "Nothing dampens your day like a wet chamois and soaked socks. With Profila Stormshell fabric, a silicone ankle gripper and zippered front, the Velocis Stormshell Bib Tight keeps you dry from the waist down."
Bontrager lists these features:
* Profila Stormshell fabric powered by 37.5 technology
* 2.5 layer fabric provides next-to-skin comfort with a stretchy, no-flap fit
* Micro mesh Profila Dry bib straps with zippered front for convenience
* Silicone ankle gripper, and semi-locking zippers for easy on/off
* Reflective elements enhance visibility for maximum safety
* Fitted cut provides streamlined body fit for enhanced performance
* 10,000mm waterproof, 25,000g/m/24hr breathability
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
37.5 technology (see above) "captures and releases moisture vapour to maintain the optimum relative humidity in your microclimate, which helps your body more efficiently maintain an ideal core temperature. The result? Increased comfort and enhanced performance."
"For the average person, the body strives to maintain an ideal core body temperature of 37.5° C. You are most comfortable when the microclimate next to your skin has a relative humidity close to 37.5%. When you are in this ideal 37.5 comfort zone, you are also in your ideal performance zone. Cocona technology helps your body manage the moisture in your microclimate to keep you in this '37.5 zone' of comfort and performance.
"With 37.5 technology, patented active particles permanently embedded at the fiber level capture and release moisture vapour. Not only do these active particles provide 800% more surface area to the fiber, they also provide a unique driving force to remove moisture vapor unlike any other technology. By actively responding to body heat, the active particles use this energy from the body to accelerate the vapor movement and speed up the conversion of liquid to vapour, significantly increasing drying rates. This means the hotter the user gets, the stronger the driving force removing moisture becomes''and the more comfortable the garment remains."
For more info on this technology go to www.thirtysevenfive.com
I found the lower legs a little loose, but everything else is spot on.
£140 would be a lot to pay if these were normal over-trousers, but they're not. You get a really high level of performance here. If that's the price I need to pay to be dry and comfortable, I'll pay it!
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
These go through the washing machine on a cold wash. The seam tapes are going strong so far with very little bubbling and no lifting. That bodes well for durability.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These keep the rain and road spray out. What's more remarkable, though, is the astonishing level of breathability you get here.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It has to be the level of breathability. Usually, when you put on a waterproof you expect it to keep the rain out pretty well but the compromise is that you'll also get a bit sweaty inside. I hardly got sweaty while wearing these.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I could have done with slimmer fitting lower legs. Maybe I should just fatten up my calves.
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
The scores are split between 8s and 9s. I've never used any other bib tights that offer this level of waterproofing and breathability so I'm saying the
performance score (9) outweighs any of the others and awarding a 9 overall.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.