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A pair of winter tights you can pull on over padded shorts or even wear on their own for short rides can be very useful. The Bontrager Women's Velocis Unpadded Tights have windproof and water-repellent front panels which combine with the thermal fabric elsewhere to make them versatile and comfortable to wear. Don't expect tight tights, though.
These stretchy full-length tights immediately offer an impression of cosiness and protection. The weatherproof front panels are made from a smooth – and tough – softshell fabric with a soft fleece back, as is the lumbar area. The rest is a soft, thermal and breathable stretch fabric, so those areas most needing it get protection from wind and rain, yet pedalling comfort and breathability are not compromised.
The fit is on the generous side for the measurements given on the online chart (even more so on Tass, our model, who would opt for at least one size smaller), but the cut is such that these aren't out and out 'tight tights' anyway – despite Bontrager's claim that 'the fitted cut provides a streamlined body fit for enhanced performance'. So if you prefer a little extra room in your winter tights, for the sake of style or comfort, you might like the slightly looser cut here, particularly with padded shorts underneath.
The rear of the broad elastic waistband is shaped higher than the front, and there's an additional drawstring for fine-tuning the fit. I found they fitted nicely round the waist, extremely comfortable and staying put without pulling down, even when I was carrying a backpack for commuting.
Despite the slightly stiffer softshell fabric at the front, the panelled construction makes for good articulation of the legs – there's no compromise in pedalling comfort or performance.
The combination of the two fabrics, softshell and thermal, results in decent breathability too, which isn't always the case with softshell-based tights, which can feel constrictive at times and sweaty. The non-softshell panels mean less chance of overheating.
When called upon, those softshell sections work very well: even in heavy rain these were warm and protective, shedding water nicely and keeping the fronts of the legs and lumbar area dry. They aren't designed to be fully waterproof, but they're protective enough for commuting or riding in changeable weather.
They wash up well, and provided you reproof them every so often they should stay water repellent and protective for a good while.
One of the things I like most about these tights is their versatility. The shape, fabric and performance suit all types of cycling, from road riding and touring to gravel and off-roading.
You get heavy duty YKK zips at the ankles, along with some subtle reflective accents, but bolder and more obvious reflectivity would be good.
These are far from being a cheap option for winter tights, but I'd say the complexity of construction and the levels of protection they offer, plus their versatility and durability, make them a safe investment for use across the colder months.
There's little in the way of similar products to compare them to, actually, being waist tights with windproof and water repellent panels, but they are more expensive than the similar Altura Nightvision DWR Waist tights at £64.99. (Stu tested the men's version back in January.) The Velocis' lack of a pad and the slightly more relaxed fit does make them more versatile for different types of riding, though.
Overall, these provide a good combination of riding comfort with weather protection, and if you're looking for something a bit more low key than tight tights, they're well worth trying.
Warm, protective and stretchy tights with a more relaxed fit than some
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Women's Velocis Unpadded Tights
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
Stretchy and breathable unpadded waist tights for winter weather protection.
Trek/Bontrager says, 'Winter can sometimes be unpredictable, but with the Velocis Women's Softshell Unpadded Tight you can always expect the same results of staying dry and comfortable. Stretchy and breathable material provides a comforting fit and feel, while a wind and water-resistant front panel keeps the bad out.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
47.5% nylon/31.5% polyester/14% polyurethane/7% elastane
Wind and water repellent softshell front and lumbar panels
Stretchy breathable fabric everywhere else.
Elasticated waistband with drawstring
Glove-friendly YKK zip-pulls at ankles
Reflective accents at ankles
Available in sizes XS-XL
Well put together from good quality fabrics.
Comfortable, protective and warm without hampering pedalling action.
Should last well as tough fabrics. Top up water repellency every now and again with some technical wash to prolong life.
Slightly roomier than expected and less of a skin-tight fit than the manufacturer's website suggests, but actually very comfortable and versatile with their slightly more relaxed cut.
Came up a little larger than expected but perhaps more to do with a slightly more relaxed cut than expected from the description.
As you'd expect with water- and wind-repellent softshell panelled trousers, not the lightest but tough and protective.
Very comfortable in terms of levels of warmth, weather protection and also pliability that meant no hampering of pedalling action.
Not the cheapest but well designed and should last for years. Also very versatile for all sorts of riding.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed very well. Worth considering a waterproofing top-up every now and again with a tech wash product.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well as protective and warm winter cycling pants.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Windproof and water resistant front panels, warm and protective, slightly relaxed fit, versatile for all sorts of riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not the cheapest, could do with a bit more in the way of reflectives.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are few products with which to compare these, given that they combine windproof and water repellent panels with being waist tights rather than bibs, but they come in more expensive than the similar Altura Nightvisions at £64.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're very good: well made, warm and offer good weather protection. The slightly more relaxed fit makes them very versatile for all sorts of riding, though a bit more reflectivity would be good.
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.