Rapha's latest addition to its growing Brevet range is this new pair of Winter Tights with Pad. They offer the high quality you'd expect at this price, with delightful comfort for long rides backed up by good durability. They also include some reflective details to make them a good choice for winter rides, whether that be commuting, training rides or tackling a long audax or bikepacking challenge, but they're a bit minimal.
Rapha's first Brevet jersey, released in 2014, was a long-sleeve model designed for the demands of the 1,200km Paris-Brest-Paris randonnée, and it has gone on to inspire a growing collection of clothing that places an emphasis on distance comfort, and a particular focus – in Rapha terms – on visibility and ample storage.
I've really grown to like the Brevet clothing for day and night riding, combining excellent comfort with functional versatility and more visibility than we've come to expect from Rapha, which is especially useful on long dark winter commutes or early morning rides before the sun has made an appearance.
Until now the Brevet collection has consisted mainly of tops: jerseys of long and short sleeve design, a gilet and a newly launched jacket. Now these winter bib tights complement the tops. Rapha already offers winter tights in its Classic and Pro Team range but there are some key differences that make these Brevet tights stand out.
In terms of dealing with some of the cold weather we've experienced recently, the Brevet tights provide more warmth than both the Classic Winter and Pro Team Winter tights I've tested previously. The weight of the fabric really is spot on for UK winter riding, and the insulation is tempered by adequate breathability to prevent overheating. You can tackle sub-zero rides as well as low double-digit temperatures just fine.
On the inside, the Brevet Winter Tights have a brushed fleece lining which provides ample insulation on very cold rides, as well as feeling luxuriously soft next to the skin. On the outside, a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment keeps water from rain and puddle splashes soaking through to your legs, and it really does work at keeping your legs dry.
The shape and fit of the tights, for me, is perfect. The fabric has a bit more stretch then than the Pro Team tights and this makes them fit like a second skin, with absolutely no restriction when pedalling at all. I found the size mediums a perfect fit, with good length in the legs and bibs. There are no stirrups or zips at the ankles, but enough stretch in the fabric makes it easy to pull the tights on and everything stays in place.
Providing the requisite seated comfort is a new Brevet chamois pad. It's based on the familiar padded insert used in Rapha's other tights, but with the multi-density foam designed for longer rides. It's a bit thicker in the key places and comfort is outstandingly good. The shape also fits me nicely and the tights keep the pad in the optimum position. It provides mile after mile of comfort.
A key difference is that the pad is perforated. This is so it can be washed and dried quickly if being used on a multi-day cycle tour or adventure. A more practical benefit is for commuting: it dries very quickly so there's no chance of a moist chamois for the ride home at the end of the day.
Rapha's Brevet products stand out as much for their inclusion of more generous reflective details than the rest of its clothing range. It's stylishly and successfully achieved on the jerseys, gilets and jackets, but less so with these tights. The amount of reflective detailing is a bit disappointing: just two, admittedly large, bands at the back of the legs at ankle height. Unfortunately, the lower band is mostly obscured with some winter overshoes I've been testing, which lessens the impact. There are some small reflective tabs at the top of the legs.
It's a shame Rapha hasn't incorporated more reflective material into the tights, along the lines of Altura's Night Vision or dhb's Flashlight tights, both of which offer much more generous reflective details. Even the Assos LL.milleTights_s7 have a large reflective tab on the back of the leg and it's usefully placed higher so an overshoe doesn't obscure it.
As usual, Rapha gets the details right. The bib straps are generously wide and sit comfortably over the shoulders, while a mesh material ensures they allow maximum ventilation for the baselayer beneath. Helping to avoid any potential for discomfort is the use of flatlock seams throughout, reducing the potential for chafing or irritation.
These Brevet Tights have all the credentials needed for any long distance ride, but they're also perfect for more modest cycling, from the long Sunday social to daily office commutes. They provide all the quality you'd hope for at this price: they're supremely comfortable and keep the cold and rain at bay. The extra visibility is really appreciated at this time of year, but I'd like to see even more.
Toasty and comfortable tights ideal for winter riding, long or short distances, but could do with more reflective details
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Brevet Winter Tights with Pad
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?
Rapha says: "Designed for winter riding, these hard-working, durable tights offer maximum comfort and insulation in cold conditions. A soft, brushed fleece lining traps warm air to insulate your legs, while flatlock stitching helps to prevent chafing. A DWR (durable water repellent) coating repels water, and reflective Brevet stripes at the ankle and reflective inserts in the rear seams increase visibility in low light. The chamois dries much more quickly than our standard pad, for comfort on multi-day adventures."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Brushed fleece inner for warmth and comfort
Lightweight mesh uppers for support without bulk
Flatlock stitching to prevent rubbing
New Brevet chamois pad designed to dry quickly without sacrificing all-day comfort
Reflective and hi-vis panels inserted into back for improved visibility in low-light
DWR (durable water repellent) and antibacterial treatments for protection on multi-day adventures
High-quality construction, as you'd expect at this price.
Superb comfort for long and cold winter rides, both comfortable and warm. The only aspect of their performance that is a bit of a letdown is the limited amount of reflective details.
They're withstanding lots of miles ridden in subpar conditions.
I found the mediums a perfect fit, the multi-panel design and fabric stretch ensure they feel like a second skin.
Sizing was just what I was expecting, spot on.
They're not heavy and don't feel heavy when wearing them, as some winter thermal tights can.
I'd have no hesitation picking these for a long distance ride.
They're certainly not cheap, and you can get the excellent Assos LL.milleTights_s7, which also have rear leg reflective details, for less.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy; they go through a standard wash and dry quickly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For providing mile after mile of comfort they excel.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fabulous fit and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
More smartly placed reflective details would be good; price...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably, yes, but there are some strong rivals that cost less.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
If you want high-quality tights for long-distance winter cycling these provide an excellent performance, but there are plenty of strong rivals at this price. It's also a shame the reflective details aren't more generous.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 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, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.