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On paper, Craft's Ideal Wind Bib Tights are a bit of a bargain, but can the Swedish brand's tights deliver the performance that their well-featured specification hints at? The answer is a resounding yes: warm, windproof and with decent low-light visibility, there's a lot to like.
The tights are mostly constructed from reasonably heavyweight Thermo Roubaix and elastic, weatherproof fabrics. They're essentially tights of two halves, split along the seam that runs down the inside and outside of each leg. The front half is all windproof, with the rear just thermal, except for an additional protective panel covering the lower back between the waist and the bib.
The bibs have a thermo Roubaix fabric lower section, scalloped at the front and both sides, and mesh shoulder straps that split the thermo Roubaix panel at the rear, for heat dissipation. The straps are fairly narrow, but are comfortable and unobtrusive when worn, and the balance of torso warming and ventilation from the raised bibs is very good.
Craft suggests going for one size larger than normal, but I usually find typical UK mediums an ideal fit, and the medium Crafts I tested fitted every bit as well.
Generously-long side zips make the Craft tights simple to put on, and although tights with windproof panels are always rather less pliable, and can be harder to position, the Crafts slipped into place without fuss.
The seam on each leg, which sits well above the knee at the front, and higher behind the thigh, did immediately feel quite unforgiving on the backs of my legs. My legs are only of average girth these days, so it was a surprise to feel this apparent constriction; I wondered how my legs, when aged 25, would have coped.
Although this seam felt immediately obvious when standing, after five minutes, and throughout my hours of cycling in the Craft tights, it really wasn't obvious at all. They didn't leave seam marks on the skin which were any more significant than many other clothes, and definitely didn't affect my riding.
The additional stiffness of windproof panels can cause discomfort. I've found the reduced stretch of some to create pressure on the kneecaps, which can get unpleasant, but the Crafts were nothing but comfortable in this regard, and among the least obviously protective tights I've tried.
Although they stretch out nice and smoothly above the knees, below they're always creased and – at least on me – not figure-hugging. I think this is a combination of a little more fabric than I personally need, and the differing properties of the two fabrics used. It was never something that bothered me, as I don't ride around looking at my shins, but was more obvious when putting shoes on, or when seeing the patchy distribution of road spray after a ride.
Craft states that the front panels are waterproof and windproof, and with plenty of opportunities to test those claims, I'd have to largely agree. In light or steady rain, or road spray, they keep the wet out, but when things get torrential, little does. They are, as mentioned earlier, tights of two halves, and the rear half of the legs can't claim any sort of weatherproofing, so even if the front panels manage to fend off the worst of the conditions, you soon feel wet from any incidental rain or spray that gets to the rear, particularly through the seat. They do provide pretty good weather protection, but I wouldn't expect to stay dry below the waist. Even if you do get wet, the windproof fronts do help you to retain plenty of warmth.
The Infinity C3 pad is made of recycled polyamide, is seamless, laser cut, 3D gender-specific and antimicrobial with four-way stretch. Its most cushioned sections are 12mm thick, and it has proved nothing but comfortable through a month of riding, on and off road.
On top of the tights' weatherproof qualities, their soft, brushed inner face feels plush and helps retain heat. Because the only cooling comes from the rear thermal half of the tights, high tempo riding, or temperatures around 10°C, can make for very toasty legs. When setting out on low single digit Celcius rides, the backs of my legs often felt a little too cool, but after about 10 minutes they warmed up, and stayed that way. I've found the Crafts effective in temperatures just below freezing, and days when the windchill was estimated at -8°C. They're infinitely preferable to non-windproof tights.
Backing up my sizing opinion, I found the Ideal Wind tights stay in position very well without creeping, bunching or constricting. The low scalloped front assists natural breaks, should you feel the need, and the addition of reflective thread to the wide seams down the entire outside of each leg, plus two generous reflective stripes on the upper calves, hugely increases low-light visibility.
Properly protective bib tights aren't common at this price point, with obvious rivals such as Gore's C3 Thermo bib tights (£89.99) lacking the windproofing, and the company's C3 Windstopper bib tights costing another £30, and exhibiting some fit issues. Endura's FS260-Pro Thermo bib tights are a thermal contender, at £99.99. but the Crafts really do stand out with their weatherproof attributes.
Despite some especially rough rides in unpleasant weather, the Craft tights show minimal signs of wear and tear, with only light scuffing in the seat area. If you suffer in the cold, or regularly experience adverse weather and are willing to compromise a little on lower leg looks, then Craft's Ideal Wind bib tights could be, well, ideal.
Attractively priced, warm and comfortable bib tights with effective windproofing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Ideal Wind Bib Tights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Craft's Ideal Wind Bib Tights are designed for cycling in cold and windy conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Materials used: Polyester, polyurethane and elastane.
Low bulk mesh bibs.
Padding: 12mm thick recycled polyamide C3 Infinity Pad. Laser cut with 3D shape.
Side leg zips.
Reflective stripes and stitching.
Great performance for the money.
Sizes seem equal to standard UK sizing.
Like much Craft clothing, the Ideal Wind bib tights are great value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The Craft tights have been washed around 10 times, often after some filthy riding conditions, but they still look in great shape.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On days when there's a definite chill in the air, these tights have really helped to keep knees and muscles very warm.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
On the bike comfort, and effectiveness in chilly weather.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
One seam, behind the thighs, feels intrusive at first.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At their rrp of £90, the Craft Ideal Wind bib tights are very competitively priced, and if you can find them discounted, they're a bargain. Most tights for around this price can't boast much, if any, windproofing, but Lusso's Classic Thermal bib tights, Gore's C3 Thermo bib tights and Endura's FS260-Pro Thermo bib tights are all worthy contenders.
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
Good value bib tights which perform very well on the bike and function as well as some tights costing double.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6 with Campagnolo Super Record 12s My best bike is: BMC SLR01
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Riding with my children, using both a child seat and trailer bike