Altura's Podium Elite Thermo bib tights give that soft, warm and cosy feeling that makes cold-weather winter miles a little more bearable. The bibs are mostly very supportive but could be a little more so around the pad area, and I felt that the pad was positioned a little too far back.
Altura's newest winter range landed in the office just at the right time, as the mercury plummeted, and the thermal properties of the Thermo Bib Tights have really been tested – it was -4°C on one of my commutes! The tights performed very well, keeping me lovely and warm; the fabric itself isn't claimed to be windproof, but the close nature of the construction seemed to block quite a bit of the wind.
Altura has developed its Thermo technology using 'thermosuede fabrics'. In essence, this comes in the form of a brushed fabric that's soft on the skin. According to Altura, this technology 'delivers body warming insulation and warmth, to maintain core thermoregulation, keeping you warm, dry and comfortable'. Not only did I stay warm on below freezing days, I found the tights very comfortable, with the soft fabric causing no irritation.
The thermal material covers the lower back, while the upper back sections feature 'breather mesh zones for enhanced breathability'. To be honest, I'd prefer having the thermal fabric continue up higher for even more warmth, though the upper section does seem nicely breathable.
The Altura ErgoFit 3D patterning is 'engineered for a more comfortable riding position'. This is a panelling system that is quite common in longer garments where there is potential for bunching of material behind the knee. Thankfully, I had none of that and also no irritation from the stitching that holds the panelling together. In fact the fit overall is very good, with a slight compression from the Lycra, and I had no bunching of fabric around the hips or knees.
Instead of stirrups, Atura has used 'integrated silicon[e] grip detailing'. This elasticated band secures the tights very well at the ankle. I've never been a fan of foot stirrups; they can throw off a well-fitted shoe and cause all sorts of problems. Here, the leg length of this small size pair is spot on with my 30in inside leg.
I found the fit only lacking in one area: the pad. Altura's Pro 3D pad features 'full carving conch construction with breathable perforations'. Sounds fancy, but essentially it's just a really good, dense pad that kept me comfortable on longer training rides. Featuring Altura Dry technology, it also meant no problems with becoming damp. The problem was its position: it's a little far back for, ahem, support around the front. This didn't make the pad uncomfortable to sit on, but I was aware of it being too high at the back, especially when in a tucked riding position.
Other features: there are retroreflective trims for increased visibility, though they are only small. (Altura's NightVision Windproof bib tights, with reflective bits everywhere, might be a better choice for dark road commutes).
I was also a bit unsure about the 'tech pockets' on the back of the bibs. With so many pockets in my jacket and jersey, I was struggling to find a use for them. Altura says 'Rear tech pockets to store energy supplies' but I'm not sure I'm convinced, though it did occur to me that on a super-cold day you could pop little heat packs in them, for the ultimate in cosiness.
At £110, the Podium Elite Thermos sit between the likes of Castelli and Rapha at around £140 and dhb's ASV Roubaix offerings at £80 (and £10 more than dhb's Aeron Deep Winter tights). You can find them for between £10 and £20 cheaper online, which makes them more appealing – but you just might want to check how the pad feels before removing the price ticket...
Soft, warm and a great fit, let down slightly by the pad positioning
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Podium Elite Thermo Bib Tight
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Winter bib tights to keep you warm when the temperature plummets.
"Performance delivered in a competitive bib tight using thermosuede fabric. Pro 3D pad and 3D Ergofit patterning for superior ride comfort."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Altura Thermo™ technology using thermosuede fabrics delivers body warming insulation and warmth, to maintain core thermoregulation, keeping you warm, dry and comfortable
* Altura Pro 3D pad with full carving conch construction with breathable perforations. Featuring Altura Dry™ technology
* Altura ErgoFit™ 3D patterning engineered for a more comfortable riding position
* Integrated silicon grip detailing delivers enhanced fit
* Breather mesh upper body zones for enhanced breathability
* Strategically located retroreflective trims for increased visibility
* Rear tech pockets to store energy supplies
The tights are very well made but the pad is positioned too far back.
They were comfy for four hours and very warm when the weather wasn't.
These have been used almost daily and I can't see any signs of wear.
Lovely fit everywhere but the pad – it's not uncomfortable but it's too far back.
The leg and strap lengths are very well proportioned.
For the warmth, they're quite light.
The fabric is soft and the pad is nicely dense. The straps are supportive but not restrictive.
They sit in the middle ground, but with the performance they represent pretty good value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed and tumble dried and have held their shape very well.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, nice and warm, soft and quite robust too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit is really nice with perfect length.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pad is just too far back.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A very warm and comfortable pair of tights that only lose marks for the position of the pad.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rose Xeon RS My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.