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The Le Col Women's Hors Categorie Bib Tights are very warm and forgettably comfortable bibs. Yes, they are expensive, but seem to be durable and will cover you across a wide range of temperatures, including the deep winter.
Made in Italy, with a construction of 85 per cent polyamide and 15 per cent elastane, this fleece-lined fabric feels very soft against the skin and instantly warms you.
Sizing was as expected: I'm a small in these, which matches up with bib tights from other brands. The fabric is quite thin which, in combination with the spot-on sizing, resulted in zero bunching behind the knee.
Holding these in place are wide and flat straps with a thermal lining that runs over the shoulders, making for quite a luxurious feel. They've got a decent stretch to them, providing a secure hold but one that doesn't feel like it's pushing you into a riding position off the bike.
The bib section is cut fairly high at the front, while at the back there's a splash guard section that turns into a mesh panel running all the way up the back to between the shoulder blades. The former defends against spray very well and the latter transfers sweat away effectively.
Stitched to these tights is a Dolomiti Gel Pad, which has four distinct thicker areas of padding. It moulded to my shape nicely and proved very comfortable on 4hr+ rides.
Ankle zips make these very easy to slip on and off, but aren't as comfy as just simple elasticated bands. The wide gripper at the bottom has a tight fit, so much so that the zip does require an extra tug to run down to the ankle, but it reassures you this flush finish is going to stay in place.
The quality of the fabric and workmanship is impressive – they feel robust and the seams are tidy throughout. Through numerous washing cycles, these still look and feel brand new.
Dipping down to just below freezing, the tights kept the cold very much at bay. It was only after a long battering in rain at these temperatures that I began to feel uncomfortable. But the fabric, although thermally lined, doesn't bulk up as water collects.
Wearing these bib tights on milder days up to low double figures, they have decent breathability and only become too warm when upping the pace, with threshold efforts plus.
Without a baselayer tucked beneath, the Le Col logo at the rear irritated my skin a tad – that said, I found this was easily solved by putting a lighter summer baselayer on instead.
These tights are also available with gold accents on the inside of the straps and the back panel, as well as a strip which crosses the front of the lower leg. This strip is practical as well as stylish, thanks to its reflective qualities.
At £220, this is a premium price for bib tights, but there are others such as the MAAP Team Thermal Bib Tights (£215) and Rapha Pro Team Winter Tights (£210) around this price mark, and the Le Col offers a similar high performance. That's not to say there aren't cheaper options: at £150, the water-resistant 7Mesh TK1 Bib Tights come highly recommended – in the men's version anyway – and even have the added extra of handy pockets.
Overall, these Le Cols are a great investment as a set of bib tights as they feel absolutely great to ride in – warm, form-hugging and with a very comfortable chamois you can trust on the long ones. The price is high but with such versatility in terms of suitable riding temperatures and quality construction, these will last you and be your go-to on many rides.
Very well-fitting and comfy thermally lined bibs – a worthwhile investment
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Women's Hors Categorie Bib Tights
Size tested: S
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says: 'The Women's Hors Categorie Bib Tights are designed to meet demanding winter weather and keep you warm, dry and comfortable on long rides. Made using a hydrophobic Aqua Zero material over the lower leg, these bib tights provide a breathable water resistance, beading off splash as you ride.
Thermally lined for cold days, the Hors Categorie Bib Tights use a Dolomiti Gel pad for comprehensive comfort and shock absorption.
Zippered ankles provide easy fitment and removal, whilst high cut strapping delivers a secure, metered fit.
Finished with reflective detailing for improved visibility in poor light conditions, the Hors Categorie Bib Tights are our most refined and luxurious for deep winter riding."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Le Col lists:
Premium Women's Dolomiti Gel Pad
Thermally lined for insulation
PVC and latex free
Lower leg Splash Guard for spray protection
Ankle zips for easy removal
Reflective panel and tabs
Made in Italy
Slight concerns about robustness of the ankle zip design, but all good so far.
Very comfy thermally lined fabric and the wide, flat straps.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Followed instructions and had no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Incredibly comfy bib tights that will serve you well on cold winter rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Incredible comfort throughout, including the wide straps that are thermally lined.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Price and irritating logo at the rear. Could do with some reflective strips at the rear too.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Expensive, but MAAP and Rapha offerings are around the same price mark. That said, there are great options much cheaper, such as the 7Mesh TK1 Bib Tights.
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
The performance is excellent and the build throughout is of a very high standard – but you are paying a premium price. Overall, despite the high cost, I think they're exceptional.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track