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It's getting cold and I need help in choosing tights...(11 posts)

It's getting cold and I need help in choosing tights...DoothaBartman
Oct 6, 2001 7:24 PM
I'm determined to ride throughout the winter, at least while the temperature is above 45 or 50 degrees, and I've never owned a pair of tights. I've always done my riding when the weather is schorching outside. I'm looking for opinions on all types of fabrics by all types of manufacturers and I'm especially interested in if I should get a set of tights with a chamois or wear shorts underneath for that necessity. Also, I need new shorts as my only pair have worn out after two years of summer use and I can't seem to find the exact model to replace them, so I'm interested in everyone's opinion on the better models to purchase. I suppose my main concern in a short or tights is it's chamois but I'm more interested in the higher end techinical wizardry of tights, such as wicking capabilities, wind/water resistance/proofness, thermal properties and the like. A pair of shorts just needs to give comfort in the saddle area, but I assume there's more to consider when choosing a pair of tights. If it helps in your advice, I don't ever plan on riding in rain, I just want to stay warm.

Thank you in advance,
re: It's getting cold and I need help in choosing tights...nestorl
Oct 6, 2001 7:37 PM
I have always found tights over shorts to be pretty uncomfortable. Tights with chamois are better but the fit is tricky and you should buy them from your LBS.

I do not use either... Instead I have several pairs of heavy weight Leg warmers. Since they go just to the top of the legs they are extremely comfortable and just as warm as tights.

About shorts, read the reviews... I use the performance elite shorts and I love them.

If you have never been out on your bike during the winter you should also know that the most sensitive area (because is usually under protected) is your toes!!!. Get a nice pair of neoprene booties.

Have fun. Nestor
tights over shortsBirddog
Oct 6, 2001 8:18 PM
I've been riding year round for 5 or 6 years and I like the tights over shorts method. I just like the ability to shed the tights if nec. although that is infrequent. I have 2 pair of Santini shorts and 1 pair of Performance Elite bib shorts and my favorites are the Performance. It is a pain in the butt to take a leak though, with bib shorts as your first layer. For tights, I currently use Pear Izumi Therma Fleece tights with zipper ankle. This season I'm going to add a pair of bib knickers for those colder days.
My advice is to dress in layer. I usually wear an undershirt like the DeFeet UnDShirt, with either a long sleeve jersey and fleece vest, or a short sleeve jersey with a long sleeve fleece jacket. The fleece is equivalent to Polartec 200. Over this I wear a water and wind resistant shell (North Face) with 2 way zipper and storm flap.
For fingers, I have a variety of stuff depending on how cold it is. For the coldest, I wear PI Lobster gloves with a light liner, For medium cold, PI full finger gloves, and for chilly days (50 degrees or so) I have some PI thermastat gloves which I sometimes wear over bike gloves.
For head and ears I wear either a balaclava, skull cap, or polartec ear brassier.
For feet it is either neopreme booties or toe covers. Good wicking socks are a must.
you go Zorro!! nmOooooooh
Oct 6, 2001 8:50 PM
Check out the Icebiker siteRich Clark
Oct 6, 2001 9:16 PM

Everything you'd ever want to know about cold-weather riding.

I ride all year, commuting, and so layering is critical. Some days it can be 30F in the morning and 55 when I leave for home. I wear shorts with chamois, and thin tights. I have some thin tights with smooth fabric that another layer on top won't cling to, so sometimes I'll wear shorts and two pairs of tights in the morning, and one pair in the afternoon.

A couple of long-sleeve coolmax jerseys, a couple of fleece jerseys, a couple of fleece vests, and a windbreaker with venting make up the rest of my main winter riding wardrobe.

Glove liners with (if necessary) fleece gloves; a balaclava and (if necessary)ear warmers; wool socks over coolmax socks with my loosest SPD shoes -- that's about it for accessories.

As a commuter I find one of my small panniers is necessary in colder weather to carry the extra stuff I might need later in the day if the weather changes, or the stuff I've shed from the morning. The other pannier is for my work clothes.

Last year here in Philly there were only a couple of weeks where riding was really impossible, plus an additional dy or two here and there. The snow, what little we get, rarely stays on the ground very long. I'm not obsessed quite enough to worry about riding in really wintry conditions, so the above wardrobe and my regular touring tires were really all I needed to make the trip at least 50% of the time through December-March (except for the few weeks I lost to a broken arm). The several previous winters were more or less similar.

No watch: we'll have a Chicago-style winter this year and I'll be looking for snow tires.

re: It's getting cold and I need help in choosing
Oct 6, 2001 9:46 PM
If it is 45 or 50 you might want to consider a nice pair of knickers in addition to tights. I wear knickers until it really gets cold, then i wear tights with a chamois. Knee warmers are nice because you can take them off in the middle of a ride very easily and just put them in your back pocket. Windstopper socks are very nice too and if it is dry you don't need to use overshoes. A nice pair of gloves also, but i use the light ones unless it is real cold. As far as brands, you can't go wrong with Assos,Santini, or Castelli. Of course their are other good brands also. I prefer Santini, but only because i think they are the best for the price. As far as quality, no one can beat Assos and off course they are the most expensive.
re: It's getting cold and I need help in choosing tights...zelig
Oct 7, 2001 1:22 AM
If it's above 45 to 50, knickers or knee warmers with shorts work as do leg warmers. When it comes to tights, I prefer bib tights w/o chamois. If you ride everyday, you undoubtedly already use or should use clean shorts everyday so this saves on a large investment in money for additional tights and time doing laundry. I have two pairs of Assos bib tights in Roubaix fabric. They're well made, nicely cut and rather expensive. Also, for me, they're a little bit warm for your temperature range and you might have better luck just going with leg warmers.

Based on riding year round for a number of years, there's huge variation in tolerance for lower temperatures so don't be surprised once you get acclimatised that you're initial clothing choice is too much or that in the beginning, it's too little.
my tightsdano
Oct 6, 2001 11:31 PM
First of all, I wear padless tights over shorts. But that's mostly because I also want to be able to use the tights for running as well as cycling. One thing about wearing them over shorts is that you need to use suspenders to hold the tights up. Otherwise the tights will tend to slide down your butt as you ride. A cheap pair of suspenders does the trick.

As far as favorite tights, I like two kinds: one lighter for temps in the high 40s and up, the other heavier for temps from mid-40s down. My favorite lighter tight is the Spike II from Road Runner Sports ( The Supplex material in these tights is amazingly plush and comfortable. I really like these. My favorite heavier tight is the Polypro tight from Performance. You can buy these either padded or unpadded. These polypro tights are very warm. I can easily use these down to freezing temperatures. One nice thing about polypro is that if you do get wet, they still keep you warm. I know you said you don't plan on riding in the rain. Well, I don't PLAN on riding in the rain either, but it does happen sometimes. It is one thing to be wet, its another to be cold, but being wet AND cold is very bad. Polypro will keep your legs warm if you get caught in a cold shower.

I also can't stress enough the importance of keeping your feet warm (easier said than done.) I've become a big fan of polar fleece socks for this. You can also buy waterproof hiking socks if you think you might get wet on the ride. I tend to not use the waterproof socks too much because my feet sweat like crazy in them.
Other posters have very good general advice . . .DCW
Oct 7, 2001 4:12 AM
I have some specific suggestions: (1) Voler ( has recently had very good deals on their cantara pad knickers (over the knee; they run a little tight so order a size up). They also have full cantara pad tights. Their products are very high quality and priced very reasonably even when not on sale. I use knickers or tights when I expect temps to stay below 60 or 50 degrees respectively for the entire ride.
(2) Look for leg warmers on sale. I use them when temps start below 60 and will likely warm up. Leg warmers usually fit almost up to top of thigh under shorts. I find them superior to padless tights, which tend to slip down in back.
I'm jealous!filtersweep
Oct 7, 2001 7:44 AM
Winter at 45 or 50?! It is below freezing right now in MN! It should be up to 50 after the football game, so I'll go out later. If it is in the lower 40s/upper 30s, consider how windproof the fabric is- remember you will have a windchill effect while you are moving.

Yesterday when it was mid to upper 30s I wore two layers of tights (and still was a bit chilled), but at 45 to 50, you should be fine.

I think it is most economical (which I assume is a priority since you only had one pr. of shorts) to but a good set of bib shorts, some legwarmers, and maybe some bib tights if needed. The bibs have fabric that goes above the waist, which really seems to help (cold air won't work it's way in under your top). Often less expensive bibs seem to work better in colder weather because they are simply heavier and don't breathe as much (which you don't want on a hot day)... I don't know about you, but my legs don't sweat all that much anyway compared to other areas of my body. Also, for me, the more clothing I have on, the less significant the pad seems to be- but again, I might be talking about colder temps (where I'm thinking more about freezing my A#$ off rather than the pain in my A#$!).

Also, the added layers over your knees can be a bit problematic- expensive tights will have contoured knees (multi-paneled) vs. a two panel leg that sorta binds in the knees and feels restrictive (found in cheap tights).

Finally- you might want to buy a few pairs of whatever you decide on... anything with a fleecelike lining (or Roubaix) seems to require more time to air dry (unless you like to ignore fabric care labels and throw everything in the dryer).

An afterthought- I think "warming up" is as important as what you wear on a cold day: if you don't have blood flowing through your body before you hit the pavement, you will simply be much colder to begin with, and that can cause you to over-dress, which can later make you too warm, too sweaty, then too cold- not to mention more likely to pull something or muscle cramp.
45-50 isn't cold!look271
Oct 7, 2001 10:06 AM
I've used Pearl-Izumi Therma fleece tights w/o a pad for the past 3 seasons. They'll keep you comfy down to 35 or so. I prefer tights w/o pads for the reason the other posters have given-economy, cleanliness, etc. I also have a pair of hind tights with an hfs pad. I hate the pad, but love the tights. They have a heavier pad over the knees to keep them warm. 45-50 I use arm and knee warmers or a longsleeve jersey, maybe with a vest. I just got 2 pair of Nalini bib shorts. I love them. $37.50 from Can't beat it.