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Given their bargain price, Aldi's Performance bib tights took me rather by surprise by living up to their name well in most respects – their only real failing for me being the fit. If you're of shorter and stockier physique, they're well worth a look, though you might have to buy them in store – only seven pairs in Large available online at the time of writing.
We have to face it, winter's on the way, and Aldi celebrated this recently by dropping a heap of bargain cycle gear via its Specialbuys event. Most of the headlines (at least round these parts) concerned the discounted price on the Garmin 810, but Aldi sent us some of the cycling clothing too, including these Performance bib tights from in-house brand Crane.
So, where to start? How about with the price... £29.99 is a really low price for a pair of winter bib tights. A quick look around online shows up a pair of Wiggle's entry-level (i.e. sub-dhb) Essentials bib tights for the same price, but not a lot else.
What's really surprising is that you're not just getting simple Roubaix tights here either – these have windproof panels at the front, mesh bibs and YKK zips at the front and on the ankles. The pad is from Dolomiti in Italy, a brand also used by Endura in some of its range, and – get this – there are glow-in-the-dark prints on the thighs and calves.
First impressions when you put the Crane tights on is that the fabrics are all reasonably comfortable against the skin – there weren't any scratchy or uncomfortable seams – and the pad is in the right place. All good so far, then.
Before I got to the front door, however, it was evident that the fit wasn't quite right for me. The size guide on the box (yes, these £29.99 bib tights come in a box!) lists a choice of three sizes: medium, large and x-large, and gives only waist-size as a guide for choosing which to go for. My 34in waist puts me in a medium, but we have a large here. That being the case, it was surprising how short the legs are. After a couple of pedal strokes, the leg openings sit well above my socks, in a sort of 7/8 position, as though they can't decide if they're full tights or 3/4s...
In the current autumnal temperatures, that wasn't too problematic (I quite like 3/4 bibs), but it would be come January. Additionally, it meant that in wet weather it wasn't possible to get an overlap between tights and shoe-covers, so wet feet were inevitable. I'm 6ft 2in and typically wear 34in leg length jeans, so for those with legs a good bit shorter than mine, you'd see a better fit. That said, given the smallest size (M) is for those with 33-35in waists, if you're built like Quintana these are certainly not going to work for you.
I found the pad was comfortable enough for a couple of hours in the saddle. It's the same as is used in the Performance bib shorts and, as Mat found there, it works best when you're sat relatively upright as the padding is thickest under the sit bones. That's probably a sensible move as the target market for these is likely to be biased towards beginner or casual cyclists.
Fit generally is not on a par with more expensive tights – as can be seen in our photos, there's quite a bit of bunching and loose material, although a degree of that is normal when softshell material is used on tights.
The front of each leg is made of a Wind-Guard fabric, a soft-shell fabric which does indeed block out the wind quite nicely, as well as doing a surprisingly effective job of keeping rain out too. After an hour in rain that was frequently heavy, my legs were damp, rather than soaked, but still warm and comfortable.
Other details to note include the YKK zips on each ankle – although the cut here was so loose that I didn't actually have to touch the zip to fit my size 12s through the opening – as well as a long zip at the front, making for easy toilet stops.
The bib straps are wide and made from a stretchy open mesh material, which I found comfortable. At the rear of the knees is the Moisture Zone – a section of breathable fabric intended to prevent the build up of sweat here.
Perhaps the most unusual part of these tights is the inclusion of glow-in-the-dark prints on the legs. These are well positioned on the thighs and calves and are surprisingly effective in the right circumstances. I was pretty sceptical about whether they could really offer useful visibility, but they are bright, at least as long as you've charged them up recently. They need to be exposed to the light and will then glow for an hour or so before fading; if you pull them out of your drawer in the dark and head straight out before dawn, they won't do much, but if you've had them hanging up somewhere lit at work then they should stay visible for the homeward winter commute.
There are reflectives too, although only small strips down the outside of each knee – I would have liked a bit more ideally.
To sum up then, if you're the right shape, then these are a bargain. They'll keep you warm and mostly dry for winter rides of an hour or two so should be fine for the winter commute. Why would you spend more? Well, higher prices tend to bring a much more refined fit, which will be more comfortable on longer rides, as well as more aerodynamic. You'll get a more expensive pad too, which you'll want if you're going to ride all day. But if you are on a tight budget or are contemplating the first winter of cycle commuting, and if these fit, then I'd recommend them.
Admirable protection from the winter for a flat-out bargain price – if you're the right shape
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Aldi Performance Bib Tight
Size tested: Large
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?
Aldi says: "Italian-engineered bib tights for men, with optifit braces, thermal fleece panels and protection from the wind. They feature a Dolomiti seatpad, with a gel insert and antibacterial fabrics - perfect for medium-distance rides of about 4 hours."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Thermal fleece panels at front
Moisture zone behind knees
Lower leg zipper
Contoured leg opening
Glow in the dark print
Nothing glaringly wrong. Some nice touches like the windproof panels on the front and the glow-in-the-dark prints.
I was comfortable for rides of an hour or two, and was much better protected from the rain than I'd expected.
No obvious areas of concern.
This is the main area where you can see a big gap between these and more expensive tights. They are loose in some places and tight in others, and several inches shorter than I'd want.
The size guide on the box is based upon waist size, and the smallest (M) is for those with 33-35 inch waists. That's where my waist would put me, so the L tested could perhaps be forgiven for being a bit loose around the thighs and ankles, but less easily forgiven for being much too short. If you're relatively short and heavier-set than me, these may fit you much better. Grimpeurs and those shaped like Chris Froome are not going to have much joy here.
About average for winter tights.
Quite a lot better than I'd expected, if I'm honest. I had no issues with the pad for an hour or two (Aldi suggests you can get up to four hours of comfort), and I really appreciated the respectable level of protection from wind and rain that the windproof front panels offer.
You'd struggle to pay less, so they're excellent value, if they fit... Wiggle's lowest price "Essential" tights are at a similar price point but don't offer wind or water resistance or any concessions to night-time visibility.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It kept me warm and relatively dry on a rain-sodden autumn day – well, except for the last few inches of calf which were exposed to the elements.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Wind and rain protection, reasonably comfortable pad, good visibility in the dark and a crazy low price.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fit is only suitable for those a good few inches shorter than me.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, mostly.
Would you consider buying the product? No, but only really because of sizing issues.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These are good, honest performers which offer surprisingly good protection for a crazy low price. The sizing is the only real quibble – if you're tall and slim then they won't fit well at all, but for shorter, stockier riders, they represent something of a bargain.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.