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Although the Hoy Vulpine Roubaix Bib Tights felt a little unforgiving when I first put them on, it soon became clear that these are the most comfortable bib tights I've had the pleasure of cycling in.
First impressions are lasting, and when the bib tights arrived, my initial thought was that they felt very light, and their dark grey (not black) colouring was set off with a few nifty details.
Little touches can make all the difference to your buying experience. Usually when test kit arrives, there's an array of glossy cardboard or plastic-coated tags secured to the garment with a plastic tag. Not these – they came with a nicely understated card tag attached with a double-looped piece of yarn.
The details continue into the rest of the bib tights, with a small Hoy Vulpine woven tag on the rear left glute seam and the somewhat larger printed black logo on the side of the thighs. This is offset with a similar sized reflective Hoy Vulpine logo on the back of the right calf muscle. The asymmetry is rather pleasing.
The bottoms of the legs aren't secured with a loop or zip, instead they rely on rubberised circular grippers to keep them in place. After being dubious about these at first, my doubts proved unfounded as they've stayed put around the ankles throughout the test.
As I said at the start, the bib tights felt a little unforgiving when I first put them on, encouraging a 'roll up the leg' technique to get them on rather than the usual 'pull them til they're up' method. The fabric does have an appropriate amount of give in it, but they're different to the usual offerings that feature a higher Lycra content for greater elasticity. They certainly stay put once on, with no bagginess around the crotch – or anywhere else for that matter.
Cut around the stomach is high, offering your vital organs plenty of protection from the cold. Straps are broad and comfortable but also very simple to look at. There's a 'don't try to reinvent the wheel – just make it better' feel about these bib tights.
One area where they absolutely excel is the pad. As previously stated, my first impression was how light the bibs were, and that includes the pad. Having in the past worn leg wear with padding so thick and uncompromising it feels like you've got a naan between your legs, these feel as though there's no pad at all. This makes walking around in them very easy, without the adult-nappy look cyclists often display so well.
However, it's on the bike where the real comfort begins. The Pro-level CyTech pad is designed for long distances, and after more than four hours in the saddle it's like you've been sat on the couch. I had no need for unguents nor did I get any sores developing, even when those rides had been completed in some horrifically wet weather.
Despite the thin fabric, the tights keep you fairly warm. We've not had prolonged sub-zero temperatures so far this winter, but in the low digits these have been fine. There's not much water repellency in the fabric, and they do take on a bit of moisture but tend to keep the heat in, even when wet. On dry days, when you're sweaty, the grey fabric does highlight those moist areas, but they don't take long to dry.
They also stay warm enough when wet once you're off the bike, but as with anything, you want to be removing damp garments fairly quickly.
They've washed well and the printed instructions on the back of the 'Y' are easy to follow. With no zips or Velcro there's no concern about such things damaging this or other garments while in the washing machine.
The RRP might seem high to some, and yes you can get decent bib tights for half the cost, but you can also pay a lot more. Compare these with other premium products and they're actually quite good value – especially when you consider how well they improve comfort, on and off the bike. They're currently available as a bundle with the Randa softshell jacket (saving £43), but even at the list price of £109.99 they should be top of your list when looking for a pair of winter bib tights in my opinion.
Fantastic comfort, colour a change from the usual Henry Ford rules, and lovely detailing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hoy Vulpine Men's Roubaix Bib Tights
Size tested: Medium, Graphite
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?
Hoy Vulpine says: "Superbly cosy fleece lined bib tights with Italian pro level CyTech pad and large rear facing calf reflectivity for long Wintery jaunts. Fantastically detailed, irritation free bib tights for bad weather miles. Cosy thermal Roubaix fabric will insulate you from frosty starts or long rainy mountain descents. The pro level long distance pad comes from market leaders CyTech. We've even re-thought the ankles, to remove irritating zips and foot loops. These are all about long term comfort. Forget about them and ride."
Hoy Vulpine isn't wrong with its spiel. It's really nail on the head stuff.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Flatlocked seams for against-skin comfort
CyTech pad with triple needle zig zag stitch for comfort
Thermal roubaix stretch fabric
HOY circle gripper tape to hem opening
Flatlocked seams have all stayed in place. Not a yarn-end to be seen.
Very slight bobbling starting to show on the pad area after a couple of thousand km.
Fit lovely, no bagging when hunched over the bars. Fabric stays exactly where you've put it.
Spot on and have weathered the extra Christmas pounds without complaint.
Very light, possibly not for sub-zero temperatures due to the svelte material.
As comfortable, in fact more comfortable than I've ever been in the saddle.
Personally, anything over £100 for a piece of clothing requires a fair bit of consideration and a bit of planning with the household budget, but without hesitation I'd say these are worth the money - in fact you could pay quite a lot more for similar quality.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Über simple: bung them in the washing machine and switch on. No faffing with zips or Velcro to stop damage to other garments.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As good as you would expect from a product at this price. A pleasure to wear on and off the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, looks, detailing. They all add up to a classic yet understated set of bibs.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, though my sensible head would say that they are expensive. However, cost is relative and you're getting a premium product for a fair price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Already have done.
Use this box to explain your score
I thought long and hard as to whether to give these a 10, but the self-set glass ceiling of £100 per garment counts slightly against them. However, and it's a big however, I would pay list price for these all day long. It's worth saving your birthday AND Christmas money to buy them.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kinesis Racelight T (winter) Cervélo S2 (Summer) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking