Continuing Rapha week, we’re looking at the Rapha Deep Winter Tights today.
The first year I rode in the winter, I had a set of really inexpensive Bontrager winter tights that did not have a chamois; you wore them over a set of bibs. They were relatively warm, but not terribly wind-resistant, and not at all water-resistant. However, for the price, they were a great piece of kit, and they helped me learn that I could ride all winter.
After that, I went to Gore bibs–more specifically, Xenon Windstopper tights. I wore those for two years until, due to no fault of the bibs, I developed a hole in the inner thigh, in a most unfortunate spot, early in the spring of this year. Accordingly, I spent much of the summer thinking about what to replace the Xenons with. They had an integrated chamois, and I had come to appreciate their comfort…but the downside of the integrated chamois is that you have to wash the bibs after every ride. When you’re wearing bibs that don’t have an integrated chamois, you can wash the (much smaller) inner bibs every ride, and wash the outer bibs once in a while. I did a lot of searching and reading, and ended up trying the Rapha Deep Winter Bib Tights.
Radha Deep Winter Tights, on me, on Mr. Pink.
The Deep Winter Tights are made from Rapha’s Thermoroubaix fabric. Windproof, breathable, and water-resistant. They have an integrated chamois (which is fantastically comfortable), a fleece lining, and pre-bent knees for on the bike comfort. They also feature stirrup loops, a water-resistant seat panel, and incredibly comfortable bib straps.
The upper half of the bibs is much thinner, for comfort when wearing under other layers.
Again, this is my first year with these bibs, so I cannot comment on long-term durability…however, for comfort, they’re incredible. I wear a medium, and the fit and cut is impeccable. Like the Rapha 3/4 Knickers, the legs are snug, so you do have to pull them up. The stirrup straps are also pretty tight, making putting on the bibs a bit harder than you’d expect. However, they fit ultimately perfectly over any bibs I have. For super-cold weather, if you wear a set of 3/4 knickers under the tights, they’re unbelievably warm.
They are not advertised as being water-resistant, but I’ve found that they are reasonably so, for most conditions that you’d ride in. They won’t keep you dry in a daylong downpour, but they are at least as waterproof as the Gore Xenons, if not more. They are 100% windproof, and have an ideal amount of fleece lining for active riding, even in ridiculously cold conditions.
The advertisement indicating that they have pre-bent knees seems weird until you ride with these. The cut is perfect on the bike. The design is similarly Rapha-fection. Understated aesthetics (other than the reflective Rapha logo mid-thigh), coupled with the most functional design possible.
If the temps are in the 40s, I’ll wear bib knickers. If the temps drop into the 30s or colder, I’ll wear these. I’ve worn them down into the teens, with a lot of wind, and been incredibly comfortable on a road bike in exposed conditions. I wouldn’t wear these fat biking (thorns and burrs and such being destructive to tights), but for road and gravel, these are incredible.
As with the other Rapha pieces, they’re expensive–and I don’t have enough experience to indicate if these are investment pieces or not–but based on my experience with other Rapha kit, I’m guessing that these will be with me for a long time…and the design will never go out of style.
With a month of cold weather riding under my belt in these, I can say I’m glad I went back to tights that do not have a chamois. It’s a lot easier to wash and dry a set of bib shorts than it is to wash and dry a set of full winter tights…and because they do not have an integrated chamois, I can layer up or down with heavier or lighter bibs underneath, which makes these a bit more versatile.
So far, so great.