There are often a lot of powerful words used when it comes to a piece of winter cycling kit. Kit design to work in the darkest, coldest, hardest, most challenging conditions. Velocio is no different here describing the Zero bib tight as “proven through the darkest, coldest hours of New England winter riding”. But how do they compare to the best winter bib tights we've tested?
I spend a lot of my time riding a bike and given I call the UK home, I’d consider myself an experienced rider when it comes to winter cycling, with a bit of a fetish for kit that might in some way improve the mystery of a four- or five-hour cold training ride when you know it's going to be raining and windy from door to door.
I've had a lot of disappointment and wasted a lot of money on kit that I thought was going to be life-changing when it comes to riding in the winter. It's seemingly very difficult to make good winter bib tights that are thick enough to keep you warm, whilst being thin and flexible enough to feel like you can actually ride in them and not like you've got your legs in two cardboard boxes. For the last few years, I've settled on the combination of a pair of good summer shorts with a pair of unpadded bib tights over the top. You get a double layer on the thighs, hips and small of your back to keep you warm with the added flexibility of two thinner layers rather than one thick one.
When I was sent these tights to review I was dubious, to say the least. I’ve been so steadfast against single layer tights for so long I was certain I was going to find fault with them, whether it be that they weren’t warm enough, that they were inflexible, or that the chamois was in the wrong place and didn’t sit properly because the material wasn’t flexible enough. I was wrong.
Design and specifications
The initial fit is good, they're American in their sizing - not Italian - so bear that in mind you're considering a pair as they do come up towards the more generous end of the sizing scale. They have nice flat wide bib straps, as well as good soft stirrups for holding them at the bottom of your leg and to stop them riding up, this is flat enough that you don’t feel it in your shoes and soon forget it exists. Visibility is taken care of with two much larger-than-average reflective panels on the back of each calf. If you wear overshoes over the top, half of this reflective panel will end up covered as it extends all the way to the ankle but it will still be larger than most tights reflective panel.
The pad is excellent. It's comfortable and doesn't bunch up, mostly due to a large centre section that allows both halves of the pad to float and find the right position without excessive material in the middle to bunch up. The front of each leg is made up of two panels, the lower half of the leg is along the lines of your traditional roubaix lined fleecy material, albeit in a higher density than most. The thigh is covered in a stretchy windproof panel, this isn't as flexible as the lower half of the tight but I would say it performs among the best windproof membranes available. The rear of the tights is made up of a single thickness roubaix fabric that isn’t as thick or dense as the front so as not to bunch up in the back of your knees.
I thought I’d give the tights their first outing on a particularly awful November morning. I wasn’t going straight into a four-hour ride into the unknown with them on the first ride, so I settled on a familiar two-hour loop. It was pouring with rain so I paired the tights with a thermal jersey and my favourite Shakedry jacket, thinking at least I know half of me is going to be comfortable.
The Velocio Zero bib tights’ performance exceeded my expectations to say the least. The first and most noticeable aspect is how well the material on the front of the thigh works for keeping your legs warm, it's at least equal to my tried and tested method of tights and shorts to start off with and after two hours of nonstop rain, I was still incredibly comfortable and warm. Your shins are kept suitably protected by the material, fending off the cold from the road spray. The pad was immediately comfortable, not feeling like it needed any breaking in or getting used to which is always welcome. Many promising pairs of bottoms have been let down by a poor chamois.
Here’s my only gripe. The material on the small of your back isn't as warm as offered by the shorts and tights combo. This isn't a specific fault with these tights though, it’s all winter tights. Once you get used to that extra layer keeping your lower back and core warm anything else does become noticeably colder. If you’re riding in the rain or cold, you do notice that the chill across your back compared to having an extra layer.
These tights have gone a long way in bringing bib tights back to be a consideration when I’m getting ready for a ride in winter conditions. If it’s raining and above freezing, they’ve become one of my first choices, I just make sure I pair them with a base layer that’ll keep my core warm. The main appeal is the incredible performance of the material used on the thighs in keeping you warm for extended periods in the rain and cold. The added visibility is a bonus and with it being in the fabric rather than a glued on or surface treatment, it should pass the test of time with longevity.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Velocio Zero bib tight to anyone that is looking for a single layer tight that is going to be warm and comfortable enough for even the longest and wettest winter rides.