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Clothesline: Women’s winter wardrobe from Castelli, Pearl Izumi, Rapha

Rapha Women’s ¾ Bib Shorts >> $245

The lowdown: Women’s thermal knicker bibs with chamois
Pros: Ample warmth where I need it most
Cons: Not an ideal fit for tall women

When I come back from a ride in the cold, even if I don’t feel cold, my hips, butt and thighs are generally bright red and ice cold to the touch. Then begins the thawing process before I can tolerate a luke warm shower without the painful tingly sensation of warming up too quickly. In my opinion, warmers really only serve for emergencies or moderate days, because where I need warmth most is still only covered by a thin layer of lycra.

After getting altogether too creative last winter with layering multiple pairs of shorts to stay warm where I needed yet avoid overheating in full thermal tights, I decided this year demanded a quest for the perfect winter warmth. Thermal knickers are a great solution for me on moderately cold days.

These bibs are now my go-to solution for the chilly fall-temperature days when full thermal tights would be too warm, but I need something extra to keep me warm above the knee.

Rapha Women’s ¾ Bib Shorts are full-coverage bibs. Unlike the men’s version, which has a pretty standard bib, these zip up the front clear to the neckline, and the fleecy back continues to midway up the back, with fine mesh straps connecting front to back. I admit that I love the jumpsuit-style bib for cold days, since I hate standard suspenders on women’s bibs. On the right day, the brushed bib eliminates the need for a baselayer, too, which pleases me, given how quickly my laundry basket fills up this time of year. There is also a small pocket on the back, though I find it awkward to reach and don’t see much use for it besides an iPod.

I also very much appreciate the black chamois, as I live in a household of non-cyclists that aren’t thrilled about the rainbow collage of chamois constantly hanging in the laundry room.

Visible branding is limited to a gloss black-on-matte black logo near the knee, where a small reflector is sewn.

My size medium bibs don’t fit perfectly, though. While they are very comfortable in width, they are shorter than I would like, and the seam of the contour sewn for the knee sits on my kneecap, rather than below it, and the hem lies in the crease of my knee. I would be interested to see how well a large fits, though I imagine it might be looser than I would like.

I happily forgive that, though, and will pick them over warmers for a cool day any day. They run in sizes XXS through XL for $245.


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