The Sportful BodyFit Pro Thermal Bib Tights are just that – warm thermal longs, with an excellent pro-inspired cut, that will serve you well through the cold winter months.
First things first, these bib tights are unlike any we’ve seen before, in that the unique styling makes it look like you’re wearing bib shorts and leg warmers. Whether that works for you is a matter of choice but it’s a look which lends itself to the ‘pro’ heritage of the tights. Professional cyclists, particularly those who based in warmer climes, typically wear bib shorts and leg warmers, rather than tights, through winter.
Sportful sponsor the Saxo-Tinkoff team- to be re-named Tinkoff-Saxo for the 2014 season – and the BodyFit Pro range has been developed with the squad’s input. It’s essentially the same kit as worn by Alberto Contador et al, but without the team livery and sponsors’ logos, and that’s most evident in the fit – the tights have been cut with professional cyclists in mind. At 179cm and 71kg, I take a medium in most brands and that’s still been the case with all the BodyFit Pro tested this winter, but the tights take a little maneuvering to pull into place before a ride. If you’re sometimes between sizes in clothing then consider opting for the larger size but, once on, the fit is excellent – there’s no bunching of material through the pedal stroke. The fabric is fairly thick but has plenty of stretch to it and that, along with the cut, ensures the tights and rider feel as one.
The fabric itself is what Sportful call Thermodrytex Plus. It’s a fleece-lined material which is warm and breathable – I’ve worn these tights in temperatures from one degree to double figures through early winter. It’s at the lower end of that temperature range that the tights come into their own, however, thanks to the double-layer construction on the knees, which boosts warmth when it’s a bit parky out.
Sportful have opted to make the bib straps from a mesh fabric, which helps regulate upper body temperature in an area otherwise kept warm by a base layer and winter jersey or jacket. That’s a sensible decision but we’d like the bib straps to be a little wider. They can bunch up a little and tug on your shoulders as a result, though it’s only noticeable off the bike as your position when in the saddle, hunched over the handlebar, gives the braces a little more slack. Still, if Sportful were to borrow the wider straps from the No-Rain bib tights or the super-wide braces from the Total Comfort range then they’d be on to a winner.
The chamois is one dubbed TCPro by Sportful and it’s proved very comfortable through the course of our test, on short rides and those over four hours. It’s based on the Italian firm’s Total Comfort chamois but loses a little of the padding to suit professional cyclists, who Sportful say prefer a slightly thinner pad. It works for you and me, too, as it’s still a fairly plush chamois, with a multi-density foam which is 9mm thick on the ‘wings’ of the pad, 12mm in the central channel and 14mm where you need it most, under the sit bones. Sportful say the dimpled construction improves breathability and we certainly had no problems in that department.
Other details include leg openings lined with silicone grippers and camlock zips, both of which combine to hold the bottom of the tights in place. The zips are located on the outside of the legs, which is a small but well thought out touch to avoid having two zips on top of each other when wearing overshoes.
In our experience Sportful offer a competitive balance of performance and value and, at £100, the BodyFit Pro Thermal Bib Tights continue that thanks to an excellent fit, plenty of warmth and a comfy pad. The styling may not be to everyone’s taste but if the yellow flouro option of our test sample isn’t for you, the tights are also available in black and white/black.