Sportful’s Fiandre NoRain bib tights are a strong contender for the perfect winter tights for UK riding. They excel in normal UK winter temperatures and the No Rain coating helps shrug off light showers and splashes too.
Last winter, I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time riding in Sportful’s terrific R&D bib tights and these remain some of the best I’ve experienced in cold winter riding conditions. The fact of the matter is that generally speaking, temperatures don’t tend to get really low in the UK. Yes, I know they can – but the majority of the riding I do in colder weather is on the milder side of cold, say 2-8 degrees but it can often be on damp roads, even on sunny winter days.
For this winter, Sportful kindly sent me their Fiandre NoRain tights and matching jacket and told me that the Fiandre NoRain line, is one of the company’s biggest sellers to UK customers.
On paper, it’s easy to see why. Sportful rate the Fiandre NoRain tights as being best suited for temperatures between 0 & 10 degrees Celsius (whereas the R&D are suggested for from below 0 up to 10 degrees). Furthermore, the No-Rain fabric suits the UK’s generally damp winter and spring riding conditions. It’s quite common to get an occasional shower or to ride on generally wet roads where you get a bit of spray over your legs even if you’re riding with mudguards. To help keep the wind out and keep you warm, Sportful have added an extra layer of fabric over the thighs, knees and back, giving some extra protection from the elements.
Add in Sportful’s terrific Total Comfort pad, which is one of the best I’ve ridden and these tights start looking like a great option. At a retail of £120, I think they have a strong value argument as you’re getting a very high quality tight for your money. Yes, they’re not a bargain but they punch well above their weight and I think they can humble plenty of pricier competitor tights.
The tights are composed from a combination of fabrics and features. There is Sportful’s NoRain thermal fabric, which they say boasts nanotechnology water repellant on the outside, with brushed fleece on the inside. There’s a NoRain Light rear flap (which we’ll come back to), the double layers on the thighs and knees to keep the wind out and the warmth in, combined with minimal seaming for additional water protection, ankle zips with reflective piping and reflective strips on the rear. This is all put together in an Italian fit – i.e. slim. For reference, I’m 1.8m tall and 70kgs and I’m very happy with a medium size in Sportful tights. In fact I’d go so far as to say, medium is an excellent fit for me.
One of the only surprises with these tights is the NoRain Light “flap” of fabric that covers your backside. I’ve not seen this on tights before and I still feel it looks a little odd but thinking of it as a secondary layer to keep your bum warmer/dryer it makes some sense – especially given the vast majority of riders I see on the roads don’t have mudguards. An extra barrier to road spray from your rear wheel can’t help but be welcome.
Oddly I felt slightly self-conscious about this “feature” but none of my riding companions to date has mentioned it. Also depending on what make and model of saddle you ride, it’s possible to catch this flap as you get in and out of the saddle during ride when climbing or even riding over bumps.
As you’d expect for a good winter tight, wind protection is very good as is warmth. As Sportful themselves suggest, my experience was that these tights aren’t as warm as the R&D version but I was happy riding in them for 4-5 hours in temperatures of close to zero temperatures (and I feel the cold).
Given the excellent fit, great pad and strong fabric choices, the Sportful Fiandre No Rain tights have performed impeccably. The fabric has shrugged off showers and road spray pretty well (they’re not water proof and don’t claim to be), the warmth and wind protection has been very excellent. I remain a little unconvinced about the flap (not a euphemism) but these are a terrific set of tights and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed riding in them. I expect they’ll also be a key garment for me during the transition into the spring, where while temperature will get slowly warmer, it’s likely to stay damp/showery and windy. Given the double layer insulation, it’s possible that they might start to feel too warm not too far above 10 degrees, but I’ll take too warm over too cold anytime (and I’ll manage my temperature with my jacket).
To date, I’ve had no issues with the construction of the tights. They’ve gone in and out of my washing machine regularly and still look as good as new. Given the Sportful R&D tights I used a lot last year are still in nearly perfect condition, I expect the Fiandre NoRain tights to stand up to regular use and washing well too.
Once again Sportful bib tights have made an extremely positive impression on me. These are well specced, well made, with a good fit and are a terrific performer in cool, damp and windy conditions. Buy with confidence.
Thanks for reading.