Three-quarter-length tights are an acquired taste, but there's no doubt the Rivelo Men's Headley 3/4 Knickers look the part and perform well on the whole. The fit behind the knee was a slight issue for me, but otherwise they're very comfortable and provide just the right amount of protection for autumn and spring, as well as milder winter days.
Ever since 3/4 bibs first made their way onto the scene in Belgium, their flexibility in dealing with milder cool-but-not-cold weather has appealed to many. For my money, I've always liked the partially covered look – it's kind of hardcore Flandrian, mixed with the bonus of a little extra insulation.
In the case of the Headleys, we're looking at a particularly thin fabric, so you're getting a lot of breathability. Despite a very thin and slightly insulating fleece layer, cold air can still impact on your thighs, so it's worth thinking of these as suitable for mid-spring and autumn use only. Unless you have a little Flandrian blood in you, of course.
This does make them good for high-tempo riding, as well as racing, if that's your bag. The knee section is constructed of a mesh fabric, which is very breathable and flexible around the joint. That said, it's not anatomically cut, so although the fabric is stretchy and mouldable, I found that it could bunch around the back of the knee. Add in sweat and a long ride time and the result was a bit of chafing – nothing horrendous, though, and elsewhere the knickers are very comfortable.
The hems are fitted with five flat lines of silicone to form a gripper, which holds the bottom of the tights nicely in place around the calf, and the thighs give good levels of light compression via the ergonomic panel construction for a supportive feel. You also get flatlocked seams for additional comfort at the panel joins.
The pad is also well considered, although it's fairly lightweight. It's a Cytech model – the same brand that supplies Rapha with its pads – and I know from experience how competent these are. You can use it for hours in the saddle without a problem, with the textured interior padding offering very good comfort around the sit bones.
Higher up, the bib section is also comfortable, made of a black mesh fabric, with the fleece extending above the shorts area at the rear and offering a little protection to the lower back when the weather gets a bit squally.
As with all Rivelo products, the design is stylish, and they're available in three colourways – a full black, black and red (the band around the back of the calf), or black and a blue band. They look the part, which helps make the £130 asking price easier to swallow – it's hardly a bargain, yet not dissimilar to bib tights/knickers from other specialist brands (and they're currently on offer at £49.99).
On the whole I like the Headleys, although I would choose winter bib shorts and thick knee warmers when the temperature drops into single figures. They're flexible for spring and autumn use, and I would gladly use them again, even with the behind-the-knee issues.
Well made and good for spring and autumn, if you can live with the knee fabric bunching
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rivelo Men's Headley 3/4 Bib Knicker
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?
Rivelo says: "Our 3/4 bib knickers are designed for those bridge seasons when you need to keep your muscles warm, without overheating. anatomically cut for comfort & performance whilst on the bike and using the best chamois pad technology available, they will keep you comfortable no matter how long the ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Male specific high density chamois pad from Cytech (EIT) in Italy, with bacteriostatic, quick drying and cooling fabric covering – suitable for any length of ride
- Thermal fabric that also offers a high level of compression & support
- Ergonomic panel construction gives the perfect fit whilst in the riding position
- Breathable mesh brace section
- Reflective visibility details
- Mesh panels on backs of knees, for comfort when pedalling & extra breathability
- Soft flat locked stitching on all seams for comfort
- Soft silicone Rivelo striped gripper at cuffs for a secure fit
- No scratchy labels – care label is made from a soft fabric and sewn flat
Construction is very good, with neat seams and flat joins throughout.
Take these out for a high tempo ride and you won't be disappointed with the breathability on offer. Comfort is good, via a good quality Cytech pad.
They're lightweight, so although constructed well may not be the sturdiest. It's early days, though, and they've survived my test rides fine.
Lovely fit, with bib straps that don't cut into the shoulders and great support around the thighs.
A medium was perfect for me, as most shorts and tights are.
I like lightweight garments, so I rate these highly at 232g. Feel like a second skin.
Mostly excellent, but bunching of the mesh at the back of the knee while riding brings the score down.
Certainly not cheap (though currently on sale at £49.99), but RRP is in line with other quality kit from smaller brands.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Absolutely fine – the lightweight construction proved sturdy in repeated washes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I enjoyed using them, apart from the bunching behind the knee.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The looks and their lightweight nature.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The non-anatomical knee, which gave rise to some bunching/chafing.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, at sale price anyway, because of the knee issue.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? On the whole, yes, as they may not have the same anatomical issues I had.
Use this box to explain your score
Good quality three-quarter bib tights; they do their job well and would score 8 but for the bunching at the back of the knee.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding