When looking for your next best MTB pants or choosing your next new pair of bib tights, you need to consider what is important to you; maybe you look for premium chamois quality for longer rides or weather protection and comfort. There are features such as material and construction or how they feel while riding, whether for a bikepacking adventure or a local gravel jaunt.
These tights have a different design from the ‘norm’ you find with women's bib tights. They provide extra coverage at the front; in fact, the fabric covers the front similar to a vest top would. This is perfect for better protection from the cold chill in the air during winter/fall rides. The other unique feature is the rear clip to fasten them up. It is similar to a sports bra and offers that little extra support around the bust. Simple things, but some may like tight support around the upper body. Of course, when there are buckles and fastenings involved, this can also result in a negative reaction to what should be something simple.
Design and Specifications
Thermal brushed-back fabric is used on these bib tights, creating a comfortable feel that isn’t too tight and restrictive but with enough support around the legs. Inside is a soft fleece-type texture which makes wearing them super comfortable while keeping my legs warm.
The outer fabric features a water-repellent treatment to defend against rain and mud, ideal for the colder winter months and the spring when it’s possible to be caught out from the sudden rain showers.
A mesh front panel acts as a second layer that covers all of the front of the body and around the sides underneath the arms. The tights fasten up around the back with a clip that slides together and clips closed.
The thick bib straps sit flat against the shoulders and chest, offer comfort, and feature the Altura branded logo embedded into the fabric. The chamois pad is Altura’s 3D Progel Plus pad made using Italian materials and a molded design for support and comfort for rides four hours or longer. There is reflective detailing on the lower part of the leg with stripe graphics and on the upper thigh with a reflective Altura logo, offering low light visibility.
Sliding the tights on and I felt the instant support and comfort. The material isn’t thick and bulky even with its water-repellent coating and is the ideal weight for transitioning from winter to fall and spring, where there is still a chill in the air. The water repellent worked excellently during a quick blast through the puddles. I felt the soft fleece inner was comfortable against my skin and kept my legs warm and cosy during a cold ride. At first, I felt a little of the wind chill, but once riding, it was a good temperature and no sign of overheating.
The front resembles a thin vest as it covers my entire torso. This mesh section at the front was a welcome bit of luxury, acting as a second barrier underneath my jersey. Unfortunately, the back had little protection from the outside elements except for the straps that fastened the bibs up. At first, I was aware of the big area at the back that didn't have much coverage as I felt the cold air, but as the intensity of the ride increased, the gap around the lower back allowed for ventilation. I found they were very breathable all over while at the same time offering lots of coverage in the important areas and enough areas of ventilation for effective body temperature regulation.
The super comfortable chamois gives lots of support, but while in the typical riding position, I felt the pad just wasn't big enough, particularly at the front. The pad was just on the cusp of where the chamois was positioned and made me wonder how this would feel after a long sportive where I'm usually in the saddle for six plus hours.
The clasp at the back was very fiddly to close. With a lot of patience and after learning to become a finger dexterity master, I almost got it right, but in the end, I had to ask someone else to help. With some practice, I got used to where to slot which part of the clasp, but initially it’s too fiddly. This was a big downside as I often needed to undo them for a toilet break.
The ankle cuffs feature a grippy material that gives so much traction I could barely work my foot through the hole. I was very impressed with its grip during the ride though. There is no zip fastening, so once my foot was through there was no turning back. I had to either put my socks on first so the tights slid over the top or go for the socks over the hem look – which works well if you wear mid-top winter shoes.
The Progel Plus tights are a good option for the back end of winter, moving the spring or when fall is approaching winter. High-performance materials that feature rain defense on the legs and the reflective sections ensure visibility when the light is low or rides are on the road in the dark. The high front torso coverage provides excellent wind protection and also adds another thin layer to shield from the unpleasant weather while helping to maintain an overall comfortable body temperature. The chamois is supportive and perfect for short and longer rides, but I didn’t feel it offered enough overall protection in terms of forward coverage.
Endura's Women's Pro SL EGM Bib Tights are similar in coverage and construction. These have the edge over the Altura tights here with its better winter weather protection and a unique feature: a dropped seat for an easier ‘nature break’ and extra knee fabric for better maneuverability. The price reflects this though as they cost over £100 more. On par with the price are the Endura Xtract Womens Cycling Bib Tights - 400 Series Gel Pad with fleece material and cold weather defense, but lacks the added weather resistant finish of the Progel Plus.
Tech specs: Altura Progel Plus Women's Bib Tights
- Price: $97.00 / £80.00 / AU$145.00
- Materials: Thermal 260gsm brushed-back fabric
- Sizes: UK 8 - UK 20 (Size 12 tested)
- Colors: Black