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

Pearl Izumi W Elite Thermal Cyc Drop Tail Bib >> $175

The lowdown: Women’s thermal bibs with chamois and drop tail
Pros: Drop tail is a great solution for those who don’t like waist bands or peeling layers
Cons: For the type of cold these suit, wind panels would be a huge asset

Thank you, Pearl Izumi, for offering a solution for those of us who can’t stand waist bands but are willing to suffer them if the alternative is removing every article of winter layers for nature breaks.

I’m going to recommend that any woman who goes for long rides in the winter put some money down on these tights. They are not Pearl Izumi’s most high-end tights or bibs and they don’t feature windproof fabric. But they do have a very convenient drop tail, and provide the comfort and coverage for long, moderate winter riding.

The bibs are full-coverage, and zip all the way up with thermal fabric on the front and a lighter full back. Only eight inches of seam in the front connects the bib top and the bottoms; the back of the legs and back of the bib are completely separate and simply layer on top of each other. There is no clasp or latching mechanism, unlike the Pearl Izumi drop tail Women’s P.R.O. In-R-Cool bibs I reviewed during the warmer months of 2012.

Amazingly, the system works without complaint for me. The waistband in the back keeps the tights in place without the irritating pressure on my stomach I sometimes feel in tights. Pulling down the tights while keeping the bibs on is simple, as is pulling them back on. Since they have a built-in chamois, you don’t have to mess with layers of shorts, making for the quickest winter breaks ever.

Plus, unlike tights, the Drop Tail bibs don’t leave any back or belly exposed to chill because the front of the bib is connected and the back tucks in.

They zip at the ankle and are easy enough to pull on and off over shoes, if need be, and silicone grippers help keep the ankle from wiggling up. There are a few small reflectors down the leg, some of which double as Pearl Izumi branding and, inexplicably, one on the chest.

They were toasty enough to get me seriously sweaty during a heavy ride on a nearly freezing day with two baselayers on top and no jacket, but regulated well enough that I didn’t overheat or get chills immediately after.

Given that they are designed for really chilly days, I think they would benefit from wind panels for road riding, but other than that, I don’t feel a need for more performance from winter tights and if you ask me, the drop tail is far more valuable.

At $175, they are well worth the money.


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