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Caratti delivers some decent quality kit at very sensible prices, and it's continued that theme here with these Elite Windproof Bib Tights. At 65 quid they are ideal for the commute or general riding and training, and have all the bases covered for riding through the chilly months.
I've tested quite a bit of Caratti clothing over the years and on the whole I've always been pretty impressed. It may not have the attention to detail of some of the more expensive brands and the fabrics might not feel as plush, but I've always found the fit to be good and surprisingly durable.
The Elite Windproofs are finished with a Roubaix-style fabric; for those of you not in the know, that means a material that has a fleece-like backing that sits next to your body to keep you warm. It feels soft to the touch and very comfortable to wear.
To provide the additional windproofing over its Sport Bib Tight stablemates, Caratti has added thicker-density panels at the front of the thighs and over the knees to keep out the cold sting of a winter breeze.
The fabric is quite thick and doesn't allow for the same levels of movement that you find with the rest of the material. It's not a massive difference but is noticeable, especially on a long ride.
I would also like to see the windproofing extended to the front panel above the pad; in a full-on headwind you can be noticeably chilly below the waist.
Caratti has used multiple panels to create a good fit and the addition of the two circular panels behind the knees removes awkward seams and allows for a bend of the leg without any bunching of the fabric.
The legs are held in place by an ankle zip which isn't my favourite method of retention, especially if you are wearing overshoes over the top, but I found these to be unobtrusive with their small zip tab.
You get some reflective detailing here as well, with a thin panel sitting over the zip.
The bib straps are quite wide, and the rear mesh panel covers your entire back. It keeps you warm while allowing for breathability to stop you getting too sweaty.
When it comes to sizing, Caratti tends to be typically Italian (it's an Italian brand, although the tights are made in China); the size recommended for me was XL rather than the medium I usually wear. I've always got away with wearing medium in Caratti's bib shorts and I found the tights to be a reasonably good fit, although if I was buying them I'd probably go up to a large to get just a little bit more length in the legs; other than that, the cut is good. (It's not me in the pics.)
You need a good chamois for comfort regardless of how expensive your tights are, and it's good to see that Caratti has gone for a pad made by Elastic Interface, one of the largest chamois makers out there, used by many of the big brands.
Here it's the Tour HP model, which has multiple density foam padded sections with various channels passing between them to increase blood flow. I've used this pad countless times before and it is a very good, especially if you aren't a fan of massively padded chamois. It's firm enough that it's supportive and absorbs the road buzz from beneath without being too thick that you can't feel what is going on with the bike.
When it comes to money, the Carattis are some of the best value around for their performance. Tights like the Santini Myego 2.0 offer a lot of the same properties but with a price tag of £105. Then there are Kalf's offerings, the Club Thermal Men's bib tights: they're very good longs by all accounts but again, £35 more expensive than the Carattis for what would sounds like similar performance.
On the whole, I think the Elite Windproof tights are hard to knock for the money. Yes, I have more expensive pieces in my wardrobe that I'd prefer to wear for a long ride or when out on the best bike, but for day to day commuting or blasting around I'd happily use the Carattis. The fact that you can almost get a two-for-one deal compared with many brands is also a bonus.
Decent quality tights for the money that'll keep you plenty warm enough in those chilly winds
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Caratti Elite Windproof Bib Tights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Caratti says, "This bib tight is made for everyday riding, whether it be road, mountain, leisure or commute."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Caratti lists these features:
Italian designed cut and fit to give an anatomical shape.
Windproof front panel, protects from wind chill impact on the front of the knee and thighs
Extra panelling to help comfort
The bib is designed with a mesh back to aid ventilation and body temperature regulation
Rubber Ankle gripper
Reflective liner along a YKK ankle zip to give you more visibility on the move
Warm, thermal fleeced Roubaix fabric perfect for winter riding
Branded best selling Elastic Interface Tour HP Chamois.
'Its great performance and maximum comfort come from a long series of severe test protocols from top professional road and mountain bike riders. The combination of our new triple density protection and our top of the line EIT Carbonium fabric with bacteriostatic properties enhances this chamois and places it in our Long Distance category. The High Density foams concentrated in the central 'HEART SHAPE' zone and its anatomic shape provide incredible comfort and offer a great fit for challenging rides.'
'New triple density 'HEART SHAPE' zone to provide incredible comfort and freedom of movement.'
S – Height <165cm / Waist <71cm
M – Height <170cm / Waist <76cm
L – Height <175cm / Waist <81cm
XL – Height <180cm / Waist <86cm
XXL – Height <185cm / Waist <91cm
XXXL – Height 190cm + / Waist 96cm +
They size up a little bigger than Caratti's 'typically Italian' size guide. According to that I should be in the XL, but the mediums here fitted fine, though I could maybe have done with the extra length of the large.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues at all when going through the washing machine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Plenty warm enough and decent comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good quality pad.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd like to see a few more windproofing panels around the waist section.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Against a lot of the brands we've tested, the Carattis look to offer very good value for money, coming in a good 30 to 40 quid cheaper for a lot of the same attributes.
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
Taking value into account, these are very good. They perform just as well as a lot of tights that are double the money and it's great to see a decent pad added to the mix.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!