These sleek Van Rysel 900 Cropped Bibless Tights from Decathlon's new race range deliver on fit, feel and performance at a competitive price. The bulky pad might not suit everyone, but if you're looking for race-focused shorts at a pleasing price, they have a lot to offer.
For autumn and spring days in the saddle, three-quarter-length cycling tights come into their own, and Decathlon has launched a budget pair in its new Van Rysel range, designed to deliver premium comfort in cooler conditions.
The 900s look classy and a little better-finished than their Bib Shorts counterparts, owing to neater seams and an eye-catching interior pattern. But do they perform better than their £34.99 price tag might suggest?
The tights are made of polyamide and elastane, a super-stretchy blend that's great for comfort. The fit of the size small I tested is spot on; generous enough so as not to pinch, yet close enough to feel slick and super-aero – which you'd expect from a range designed for racing.
The stability waistband further adds to the comfort – it sits pleasingly high, meaning that no matter how aero you go, there's little chance of a chill creeping in, and it crosses over towards the front, resulting in four layers of soft material around the stomach.
The addition of a thinner, breathable fabric to the rear of the knees adds to the chafe-free feel, because the fabric doesn't bunch up or dig in.
The pad, stitched to the shorts, is identical to that in the bib shorts with its 'lady comfort channel' and three levels of density. And it's the density of the pad on these tights that you'll probably notice first: if you hold them up by the waistband, it looks really chunky – longer and firmer than many.
Once on, this firmer feel remains evident, creating a dense feeling when sat down. In action, the pad did feel less comfortable than the softer pads I've tested, leading to regular wiggling in the saddle to find a comfortable position. As with the Van Rysel shorts, though, after several washes the pad settled in. With time and more riding, they became a better companion to my rear, even over longer miles. Given their race focus, it may come as no surprise that the pad is also forward-focused. Sat upright I could feel the rear edge of the pad – so it's not made for laid-back days on the tops – but in a lower riding position, on the hoods or drops, the coverage is exactly where it needs to be.
The tights' panelled construction, stitched with flat seams, provides a quality look and a secure yet flexible feel. As with the Van Rysel bib shorts, some of the interior seams are a bit rough, but in action this went unnoticed and was far outweighed by the overall feeling of soft comfort that the tights provide.
The leg hem finishes mid-way down the calf – far enough down that even longer-legged riders should still find that they finish well below the knee. However, although the hems are wide and grippy with a silicone diamond pattern, they rode up a little in action, especially when positioned further down the leg to start with.
When it comes to wicking, the 900s do not fall short, further aided by the addition of those breathable panels behind the knees.
Overall, the shorts are not without their quirks, but if you get on with the chunkier-than-some pad they are a brilliant budget option that feel more premium than their price tag might indicate. The soft, sleek feel with generous comfort, especially across the waist, makes for a pair of three-quarter tights ready for faster rides in cooler conditions – though the addition of some reflective detailing wouldn't go amiss for a product designed for shorter days.
Wallet-friendly three-quarters that perform well, though the pad may not be for everyone
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Van Rysel 900 Women's Cropped Bibless Tights
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Decathlon says these 3/4 leggings have been designed for intensive cycling on rides of up to and over three hours.
On the website it says, "A supportive pair of tights is essential on a long bike ride, so our designers have developed these cropped, bibless Van Rysel cycling tights for intensive cycling on rides of up to and over three hours. Comfort is assured thanks to the triple-density ergonomic padding with gel inserts.
Quick-drying fabric effectively wicks away perspiration
Waistband and thigh hem keep the tights in place
Flat seams help to reduce chafing"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Ergonomic pad with gel inserts and 3 levels of density for added comfort.
Wide silicone bands on the lower part of the legs.
Stability waistband with an ergonomic cut.
Breathable technical fabric actively wicks away perspiration.
Large pad and flat seams. Quick drying.
Slightly neater than the bib shorts I tested in the same range. Lovely waistband, deserving of an extra point.
Performance (sweat-wicking, overall comfort) is good, but the chamois is potentially divisive.
After a few washes the seams bobbled a bit, but overall they're well constructed.
Fit is spot on. Really comfy design with an accommodating yet close aero feel.
Definitely didn't come up too big. An additional point from the bibs in the same range, because these feel more accurate.
Chamois felt a little heavier than those in other bib shorts I have worn.
The pad settles after a few washes and rides.
We haven't tested many women's 3/4s on road.cc, but they tend to range from £50-£100-ish (or more), so these are a lot cheaper by comparison.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy, and dries fast. But a little bit bobbly around the seams after a few washes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall it was above average on overall comfort, construction and sweat-wicking, but I didn't find the pad as comfy as others I have tested.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfortable waistband.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The dense pad.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, the pad is too thick for me.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they find the pad comfortable.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Van Rysel 900 Women's Cropped Tights have a lot to offer for just £34.99. They are extremely supportive yet provide freedom of movement. Though the pad is dense, if you find it comfortable they're an absolute bargain to see you through the changing seasons.
About the tester
I usually ride: My Scott Foil My best bike is: Oldie but the goldie, CAAD 8
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, general fitness riding, triathlon, audax