Winter weather means layering up to ride, and keeping your legs warm can be a challenge. While legwarmers are a great option, for riders who spend a lot of time pedaling in inclement weather, a pair of comfortable winter cycling tights can make a ride much cozier… and less irritating.

Legwarmers may start to chafe or roll down, or leave pockets of skin exposed while other bits are fleece-covered and sweaty. But a good pair of tights can streamline your ride and make getting ready a much speedier affair. Here, we’re running through our favorite cycling tights, from thermal bibs to more casual leggings that can be pulled on over your standard cycling shorts.

 Rapha Pro Team Winter Tights II 

You could argue that these are the Cadillac of winter tights: These cozy bib tights have a wind-blocking DWR (durable water repellent) on the front-facing panels, and a brushed fleece interior that stops just shy of being ‘overly warm.’

Whether you’re riding fat bikes in a snowstorm or pedaling on the road in freezing rain, these tights can keep you warm and relatively dry. We’re also impressed at the fit and the comfort of the chamois as well as the tights themselves, which have just enough stretch to stay supple without getting saggy after a few hours in the saddle.

And unlike most tights, they come in a bevy of colors, including burgundy and teal as well as classic black. The style is available in both men’s and women’s size ranges, which we also appreciate.

  • Available: Men’s and Women’s
  • Chamois: Yes
  • Material: Elastane, Nylon, Polyester, Polyamide
  • Good for: Wind, Cold, Rain
  • Color: Burgundy, teal, white/black, black
  • Sizes: Men’s XS-XXL / Women’s XXS-XL
  • MSRP: $285

PROS: Cozy with a great fit, comes in colors
CONS: Pricey

 Velocio Luxe Bib Tight 

While fleece-lined tights are great for sub-zero temperatures, we’ve found that an unlined set of tights is useful in all but the most extreme winter conditions. Often, people use legwarmers in the late fall, early spring, or in mild winters, and end up with a mix of sweaty legs and numb bums thanks to the lack of coverage in the butt area of your shorts, but too much warmth on your legs.

The LUXE bib tight from Velocio changes that. It’s is the full-length version of our favorite LUXE Bib Short, using the same heavy-but-breathable material with a bit of bonus coverage on the calves to keep you warm but not overheating. This Bikerumor editor uses these tights exclusively, even in temps down to 25ºF.

They’re incredibly comfortable and don’t get sweaty as your body heats up, and we really love that, like the LUXE shorts, the women’s version has a pull-down in the back for easy bathroom access. Sounds like a minor thing, but if you’ve ever had to disrobe in deep winter to use a portapotty, you know why this matters.

  • Available: Men’s and Women’s
  • Chamois: Yes
  • Material: Ultra-High Gauge Compression Lycra
  • Good for: Wind, Cold
  • Color: Navy, dark brown, black
  • Sizes: Men’s / Women’s
  • MSRP: $299

PROS: No peeing issues in these tights!
CONS: Pricey

 GORE Ability Thermo Bib Tights+ 

These thermal women’s bib tights are ready for anything, thanks to GORE-TEX’s Windstopper and Infinium wind and wet weather protection. There’s even windproof lining around the crotch area, which sounds goofy but for anyone who’s gone on a miserably long ride in cold weather, you know exactly why this matters so much.

The brushed fleece lining is cozy, and we appreciate the ultra-high-vis details on these tights, since most drivers don’t expect to see cyclists out in winter weather. We also love GORE’s patented zip in the back, which allows you to use a toilet without taking off every layer.

And because it has a zip, we’re actually happy about the fact that the bibs essentially have a mesh baselayer built into them (without the zip, the baselayer addition would be an annoyance since it would make taking them off more difficult). These tights are not available in men’s sizing, but for men, we love GORE’s C5 Thermo Bib Tights, which have similar features.

  • Available: Women’s
  • Chamois: Yes
  • Material: GORE TEX® INFINIUM™
  • Good for: Rain Wind Cold
  • Color: Black and high vis
  • Sizes: XXS-L
  • MSRP: $180

PROS: Love the zip access in the back and high vis accents
CONS: A lot of material up top

 Pactimo Storn + Bib Tights 

pactimo storm+ winter bib tights and knickers for cycling

We tested the Pactimo Storm+ kit in sub-freezing rain and, while we did end up a little chilly, the conditions were admittedly worse than any of us would normally ride in. Even so, we stayed dry, and appreciate the layered system that keeps wind and rain away.

The Storm+ bib tights are available in men’s and women’s, and also in 3/4 bib knickers, too, which is a nice option for those who prefer that. A bluesign-certified eco-friendly DWR coating repels water across the entire surface, with a more robust waterproof material in the seat and lower back to prevent road spray from soaking your bum.

They’re thermal fleece lined, but not so thick that you’ll overheat in most conditions (they’re rated for 35-55ºF, but we’ve ridden them in colder temps). Reflective hits help keep you safe, and Pactimo often has limited edition colors to match the Storm+ jerseys and jackets, too.

  • Available: Men’s and Women’s
  • Chamois: Yes
  • Material: Storm+ thermal fleece
  • Good for: Rain, Wind, Cold
  • Color: Black, Black with limited-time color accents
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • MSRP: $187

PROS: Super comfortable chamois, great fit, useful in a broad temp range
CONS: Nothing, really

 Alé Nordic 2 Bib Tights 

The Nordic 2 from Alé are a great option for men looking for the ultimate in deep winter warmth. Rather than fleece lining, these have a more thermal lining, which some riders may appreciate, depending on your sweat rate. (Heavy sweaters may find fleece gets itchy as it gets wet.)

The outer layer of these tights is brushed with a DWR treatment to block wind and rain—and there’s a waterproof cuff at the bottom to help with splash-up from slush. They’re rated down to 3ºF, so these tights aren’t for the more casual winter riders. They’re not available in women’s cut, but the Future bib short is a similar women’s option at a lower price point.

  • Available: Men’s
  • Chamois: Yes
  • Material: Polyester, poliurethane, elastane
  • Good for: Rain, Wind, Cold
  • Color: Black
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • MSRP: €184.00

PROS: The most winterproof of the bunch, rated down to 3ºF
CONS: Might be overkill for most riders

 Pearl Izumi Attack Cycling Tights 

If you don’t love bibs—and we’ll be honest, in deep winter, sometimes we’re willing to swap out the bib option for an easier on/off situation when trying to get changed at the trailhead or pee with ease—then the Pearl Izumi Attack Cycling Tights are a great option.

Because they don’t have a chamois, they’re also great for running or cross-country skiing in the winter, so if you’re building a winter wardrobe for multiple sports, these might be a better choice than a pair that does have a chamois. And these tights are just as feature-rich as the bib options.

The AmFIB softshell fabric on the outside protects from wind and water, while there are interior fleece accents for comfort, but not full fleece coverage. They’re great for most cold rides, though for deep, deep winter, you may want something with full lining. They’re great in rain, though, thanks to Pearl Izumi’s Dry tech. It’s worth noting that even the brand admits that the tights tend to run small, so you may want to size up. Note: The women’s version comes with a chamois, while the men’s does not.

  • Available: Men’s and Women’s
  • Chamois: No
  • Material: 80% recycled nylon, 20% elastane
  • Good for: Cold
  • Color: Black
  • Sizes: XS-XXL women, S-XXL Men
  • MSRP: $130 women / $140 men

PROS: Ultra cozy
CONS: Not bibs

 Rapha All Day Leggings 

While technically not a winter riding tight, these are great for those in-between days, worn over bibshorts or just as a casual commuter option, since they’re designed with cycling in mind. They don’t have any fleece or weatherproof lining, but that makes them optimal for more casual use or slightly cooler days, or just running errands around town.

Unlike most non-cycling specific leggings, which often end up fraying in the crotch if you put too much time on the saddle on them, these tights are designed to be ridden in and hold up to regular use. They’re also comfortable over a pair of bib shorts when you need a bit of extra coverage but don’t love legwarmers. Roll-up high vis cuffs and a wide range of colors are the icing on the cake.

  • Available: Women’s
  • Chamois: No
  • Material: 58% Recycled Nylon, 42% Elastane
  • Good for: Cold
  • Color: Blue, black, teal, violet, brick
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • MSRP: $110

PROS: Great colors, fun for all day and riding
CONS: Not super cozy

 Pearl Izumi Launch Trail Pant 

For riders who prefer baggies in the summer and want to keep that same feeling going in the winter months, the Trail Pant from Pearl Izumi delivers with a more casual look that shreds trails and rides to work or happy hour. The pants look stylish enough to hang out at a post-ride bar or cafe, but are stretchy enough to maneuver easily on trails.

We like the Velcro cinches on the side that let you tighten up to ensure your pants are firmly in place during your ride, but can loosen up after to shift where the waistband hits for more off-bike comfort. The material is light, though, so for winter riding, you may need to layer tights or bibshorts underneath to stay cozy.

  • Available: Men’s and Women’s
  • Chamois: No
  • Material: 68% CORDURA® nylon, 21% polyester, 11% elastane
  • Good for: Rain, Wind, Cold
  • Color: Gray
  • Sizes: 2-14 women, 28-38 men
  • MSRP: $150

PROS: Comfortable for on and off the bike
CONS: Needs layers in really cold weather

Rapha Winter clothing full kit riding

Winter Cycling Tights Buyer’s Guide:

Decide what tights suit your riding best. We discuss the differences in bibs versus tights, chamois versus no chamois, and fleece versus unlined tights below. Once you know which type you want, your options will be narrowed down considerably!

Consider average temps you ride in. If you’re regularly riding in below-freezing temperatures, then a pair of fleecy or wind-blocking tights is a great idea. But if your winters are milder, or you tend to only get out occasionally on winter days, you might be better buying unlined tights that can be used in spring and fall as well, and simply add an extra layer over them if needed.

Check size charts. Tights are even trickier than cycling shorts because they tend to include panels of less stretchy fabrics (like fleece) so you won’t have as much give. Height also becomes more of a factor, so check your inseam against leg length.

Rapha Pro Team Winter road riding racing training collection, Women's Pro Team Winter Jacket

c. Rapha

Winter Cycling Tights Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need winter tights?
You don’t need cycling-specific winter tights, no. But they can make winter riding a lot more pleasant and comfortable. (If you’re on a tight budget, we recommend getting a pair of tights without a chamois, like the ones from Pearl Izumi that we mention here, since they can be used for a variety of activities in addition to cycling.)

Can I layer winter tights?
If you’re wearing tights without a chamois, definitely layer a chamois underneath to protect your nether regions! In deep winter, some people will also layer a rain pant over tights for added warmth, which can work great. If you do this, though, just make sure that your pants are designed to not have fabric hanging by the chain, or wear a cuff to keep the fabric close to your leg.

Why not use legwarmers?
Legwarmers are absolutely an option, and are great especially for changing seasons and days when you want to start warm but know you’ll overheat later. But in the winter, we like riding in full tights because it ensures full coverage, no ‘my legwarmers keep sliding down’ issues as the going gets tough, and frankly, they just look a little tidier. They also make getting dressed easier: One piece versus three!

Bibs versus tights?
It depends on your preference. In general, we always recommend bibs over tights for waist comfort, since they don’t have a tight waistband that will bite into your gut as you bend over the bike. But some bib tights make peeing a difficult task, especially in cold weather, since unless there’s a zip at the back, you’ll need to disrobe entirely in order to pee. Bib tights also are a bit more cycling-specific and typically come with a chamois built in, making them less useful for other sports.

Chamois versus no chamois?
There are pros and cons to having a chamois in your winter cycling tights. On one hand, a built in chamois means no bunching or weird seams or layers, and makes getting dressed (and undressed if you need to pee!) a lot simpler. But it also means that your tights are only good for cycling, not other winter sports like running or cross-country skiing.

It also means you can’t re-wear tights between washes, since a chamois needs to be cleaned after every use. If you wear tights over a chamois, though, you can avoid washing them for much longer, which can add to a garment’s longevity.

How should cycling tights fit?
Tight but comfortable. You should have full range of motion in your legs, nothing should feel too hard to get pulled on and you certainly shouldn’t be struggling to breathe. Ideally, the tights will be long enough to reach down to your shoes and neatly fit under your shoe covers: Too short and you’ll end up with a frozen ankle!

Make sure when you try them on, you bend over into a cycling position to see how the waist and the legs fit when stretched for cycling. Sometimes, a pair of tights feels great standing up, but pulls weird in the butt or quads when you’re leaned over.

What are cycling-specific leggings, anyway?
You might think some of the leggings above, like those from Rapha, just look like everyday leggings, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. But the leggings are designed with cycling in mind and will have features like a heftier, more durable material in certain spots (like the saddle area) as well as seams that are placed differently to avoid potential chafing hazards. The fit also tends to be a bit lower in the front, higher in the back to make the riding position more comfortable. They’ll also have things like reflective accents and may even have windblocking panels.

What temperatures do I need fleece tights for?
Fleece tights might feel nice and cozy when you head out the door on a 40ºF day, but we guarantee that in minutes, you’ll regret that decision as your legs start to sweat profusely. Save the fleece-lined tights for below-freezing temperatures and windy days, especially if you run hot.

Can I wear XC ski gear instead?
Absolutely—just wear a chamois underneath your ski tights or bibs. That said, your regular snow pants for downhill skiing, or even more casual backcountry ski pants, may be too loose for the bike and could get caught in the chain. If your pants are looser, make sure you have a cuff holding them away from the chain.

Can I extend the life of my bibs?
One amazing reader hack we are loving: For tights that do have a chamois, once the chamois has worn out, you can carefully remove the chamois and use that pair of tights over another pair of bib shorts… assuming the removal goes smoothly!

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Velo Kitty
Velo Kitty
7 months ago

DWR coatings do not block wind.

7 months ago

Definitely get bibs if you’re getting proper outer-layer tights. Definitely get bib-tights that do NOT have chamois in them. This allows a bunch more versatility when layering, you can choose between regular shorts, knickers and thermal knickers as you base layer, and even some mid-layers tights for additional warmth. Better to get tights that are a bit too big than tights that are a bit too tight.

6 months ago

I hate bibs and have no use for them. I’ve never had an issue with shorts. What I need is the Rapha-type winter bibs (good in cold but also water/wind proof) without the bib but including the chamois. Who makes the best pair of those?

3 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Pearl Izumi Amfib tights are the best for those requirements.