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Verdict: 
Supremely comfortable and well-thought-out thermal tights that will see you through most of the winter
Weight: 
284g

The Kalf Club Thermal bib tights are supremely comfortable, nice and warm yet lightweight, and really well constructed. The reflectivity on the calves actually looks good, and the fit was near-perfection for me. They've been my go-to bib tights for the winter, except for near-zero temperatures for which they're not quite warm enough.

  • Pros: Fit, comfort, colours, ankle grippers, well-placed reflectivity
  • Cons: Sizing a little on the small side, slight firming up after washing and drying

They're cut from a thermal 'Roubaix' fabric (originally designed for skiing for greater insulation and stretch), which is made in Italy and brushed on the inside so they're soft against the skin. The flexibility is really noticeable when you put them on, and even though I found the mediums pretty snug with a compressive fit, they pulled up quite a bit easier than other thermal bib tights I use regularly.

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I'm also a big fan of the construction around the ankles and the leg grippers: no annoying straps, just good quality grippers and zips that provide all the security you need without having to worry about whether socks go on first or not.

Kalf Club Thermal Men's Bib Tight - side.jpg

On the back you'll find some multi-coloured chevrons, which are impressively reflective and very noticeable – I even got a compliment from a fellow cyclist while stopped at a light in central Bristol, who may or may not have had a couple of beers. The jury's out on whether they're essential for safety, but they look good and were shown to work.

Kalf Club Thermal Men's Bib Tight - details.jpg

I couldn't feel any seams at all on rides with varying levels of speed and elevation, and kind of forgot they were there, which is the mark of a good cycling garment in my book. The fleece-lined middle section zips up to the torso, which provides extra warmth, and has a solid YKK zip. The straps are soft against the skin, with no rubbing or chafing after wearing without a baselayer on numerous long rides.

Kalf Club Thermal Men's Bib Tight - riding.jpg

The understated burgundy colour on the straps and mid-section appears throughout Kalf's range of autumn and winter gear, presumably to reflect the conditions they're made for riding in. The colour washes very well and they're still pretty much as new after a couple of months' heavy use. They did feel a bit firmer and didn't go on quite so easily after washing and drying on a radiator, but this didn't impact on performance.

Kalf Club Thermal Men's Bib Tight - straps front.jpg

Kalf says the Roubaix fabric 'is breathable but also has a high thermal rating, keeping out the cold and resisting outside moisture (mist, for example)'. I found them most suitable for winter riding in temperatures between 4 and 10°C, although they'll do a job a few degrees either side. The mesh panels and decent breathability – I never got sweaty – mean they're possibly more adaptable to warmer temperatures than colder, and on a couple of days when the thermometer dropped to freezing and below and the effort level was steady, I did find things a bit cold 'down there' (sorry mum).

Kalf Club Thermal Men's Bib Tight - straps back.jpg

I found the water resistance really good, too, and they dry quickly.

> Buyer's Guide: 16 of the best cycling bib tights & trousers

The chamois padding is courtesy of Elastic Interface, used by numerous renowned cycling brands including Assos, 7Mesh and Chapeau! to name but three. This Club pad is male-specific, with varying densities to relieve pressure and promote blood flow where you need it. As Kalf says itself: "In other words, it's very comfortable." And based on my experience, whereby I've had no discomfort from the stitching or padding, with plenty of freedom of movement, I've absolutely no reason to disagree.

Kalf Club Thermal Men's Bib Tight - pad.jpg

Available exclusively through Evans in the UK, Kalf's gear isn't cheap but doesn't make you do a double-take either, and £100 is on the lower end of what I'd expect for a garment of this quality. You'll pay a premium compared to the likes of dhb's Classic Thermal bib tights and Caratti's Sport tights (which I've also worn and don't find as comfortable as these) – but they're quite a bit less than similar options from premium brands, such as Gore's Power Thermo Bibtights+ and Rapha's Core Winter bib tights.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Kalfs, and they've been my go-to tights for the winter. There's very little to criticise, the fit and comfort is excellent, and they're worth every bit of the £100 price tag in my opinion.

Verdict

Supremely comfortable and well-thought-out thermal tights that will see you through most of the winter

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Kalf Club Thermal Men's Bib Tight

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

Kalf says: "These winter tights are cut from an Italian-made thermal Roubaix fabric. Brushed on the inside for a soft and snug feel, the fabric is breathable but also has a high thermal rating, keeping out the cold and resisting outside moisture (mist, for example). The Roubaix fabric has great flexibility while also being compressive, ensuring they will move with your legs and fit comfortably no matter how far you travel.

"The tights are constructed for an articulated fit, meaning seams and panels are positioned to prevent chafing and maximise comfort in motion. The upper bib section is fleece-lined and has a high cut to cover part of the torso and increase insulation. However, there is also a mesh section for ventilation. There are YKK zips at the front and on the ankles, iridescent reflective chevrons on the lower calves for visibility, and silicone grippers at the hem.

"Rather importantly, there is an Italian made, Elastic Interface chamois pad in the most essential of places, stitched carefully into the seat panel for optimum comfort."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Evans lists these details:

Fabric

Italian thermal Roubaix high thermal rated fabric with high modulus stretch

55% Polyamide, 28% Polyester, 17% Elastine

Construction

Articulated cut to prevent chafing

Fleece lined high cut torso coverage with YKK zip for entry

Silicone gripper hem and zipped ankles for entry

Padding

Bastogne Men: Italian-made by Elastic Interface, high performance multi density chamois pad

Reflectivity

Large Iridescent reflective trim

Upper

Ventilated upper bib mesh

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Excellent.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Close fitting and, without doubt, the most comfortable bibs I've ever worn. They're really flexible so move with you, and none of the seams are irritating. Kalf's designers have really nailed the ankle zipper and grippers, which can sometimes be a source of irritation. Kalf describes them as having 'a high thermal rating' but I could have done with thicker/warmer tights when the temperature dropped to around freezing.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

No colour fades, seam loosening or degradation as far as I can see after two months of heavy use.

Rate the product for fit:
 
9/10

A close and athletic fit, and a very good one at that.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
6/10

A little on the small side, so perhaps size up if you're in between.

Rate the product for weight:
 
7/10

On the light side compared with other lightweight thermal tights.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
10/10

Supremely comfortable: the most comfortable bibs I've used to date.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

You'll pay a premium compared to the likes of dhb, Caratti and Altura, but they're quite a bit less than similar options from premium brands. And these are Italian-made.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

The reflective panels are still as effective and colour hasn't faded one bit after numerous washes. I noticed slight shrinkage and firming up of the material after washing, though.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Near-perfectly, although when temperatures drop close to freezing you may want something thicker/warmer.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fit, aesthetics, comfort, and coverage is good as they zip up to your mid-torso.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Slightly small sizing, material appears to lose a little bit of flexibility after washing.

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 overall score

They're really well made, the fit's great, the comfort superb and they look good. As close to perfection in a bib tight as I've come across.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 27  Height: 179cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac)  My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon races

After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since.  He joined road.cc in 2017, having previously worked for 220 Triathlon magazine. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.