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Midweight three-quarter-length cycling tights are handy for the shoulder seasons. The Bontrager Vella Cycling Knickers are reasonably cost-effective and comfortable, but the broad waistband that helps make them so comfortable can result in the tights working their way down in use.
Designed for indoor and outdoor use, these three-quarter tights are made from a midweight non-thermal fabric that Bontrager rates for use between 10 and 24 degrees. They have a flat, broad waistband, a mesh thigh pocket for gels and whatnot, a mesh panel behind the knees for ventilation, and a female-specific pad.
A great looking simple pair of tights in basic black, these caused some consternation when choosing a size based on the company's sizing charts. The broad waistband and very pliable fabric meant that in reality I could have gone down a size from that assumed by measurements alone (it's not me in the photos). However, one of the issues I encountered with the waistband design was that the lack of any sort of gripper tape and the waistband's softness (think yoga pants type) meant they had a habit of migrating when out on the bike. The supportive shaped pad coupled with the soft fabric and that waist design just did not keep them in place securely when riding.
Perhaps this would have been less pronounced with a smaller size, but I suspect the problem would still have been present. Bontrager describes the fabric as compressive, but I found little compression effect from it. The fabric did, however, wick moisture well and dried quickly.
The pad was also very comfortable and supportive for rides of a couple of hours, but the need to keep adjusting the tights did detract from their longer ride comfort and performance.
The length was good for my height (just lower than the knees) but might not be suitable for taller riders, and the lack of a gripper at the hem will please some but not others.
At this price, these tights sit at the lower to middle end of that for 3/4 knickers, but the Van Rysel 900 Women's Cropped Bibless Tights which Janine tested last year make for better value for money at £34.99.
Better performance is available from significantly higher end options such as the Rapha Women's 3/4 Tights and the Assos HK.laalalaiKnickers_s7 Lady. Compared with the similarly priced Altura Progel Women's 3/4 Knickers, which have gone up a tenner since Elaine tested them a few years ago, they offer similar levels of performance but with very different features and pros and cons.
Overall, the Bontrager tights are comfortable to wear, with a supportive pad, a soft and pliable fit and that broad waistband, but better performance and value are available elsewhere.
Good supportive pad, but lack of compression and combination of soft fabric and waistband can result in movement
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Vella Women's Cycling Knickers
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
For indoor and outdoor cycling between 10 and 24 degrees.
Bontrager says: 'Padded women's cycling knickers that are perfectly suited for on the bike or in the spin studio.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Cirra InForm Chamois female specific pad
Wide yoga-style waistband
Left side mesh thigh pocket
Mesh panals behind knees
70.5% Nylon/19% Elastane/10.5% Polyester fabric
Available in sizes XS-XL
Decent quality fabric, although not as compressive as claimed, and good quality build and components.
Comfortable supportive pad but prone to migrating in use due to the waistband and fabric combo.
Washes well and good quality fabric so should last well.
Pliable fabric does not offer the compression that Bontrager claims, and the waistband lacks any gripper so can migrate.
The sizing guide suggested XL for measurements, but L would probably have worked better, because of the flat waistband design and pliable fabric.
Pleasantly lightweight but versatile for spring, summer and autumn use, or indoors.
Very comfortable fit and pad, but didn't stay put when riding as I'd have liked.
Not a bad price compared with others, but you can get better performance elsewhere.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed very well.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable, with a good supportive pad but let down by a tendency to migrate when on the bike and the lack of compression in the pliable fabric.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort of pad and waistband, price.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Tendency to migrate due to fabric/waistband combo; slight sizing issues when following the sizing table.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They sit at the lower to middle end of the market for 3/4 knickers, but Van Rysel's 900 Women's Cropped Bibless Tights are less at £34.99, while the Altura Progel Women's 3/4 Knickers are a fiver more. There are much more expensive options, such as Rapha's Women's 3/4 Tights and Assos' HK.laalalaiKnickers_s7 Lady.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, they were fine.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably, to those who like soft and pliable tights.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Midweight tights with a good pad and a broad comfortable waistband, but let down slightly by the fabric and waistband combo, meaning that the tights can migrate in wear. They could do with some sort of waist gripper.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.