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When it comes to function, the 7Mesh TK1 Bib Tights get high marks for cold weather riding, but that comes at the expense of some form and aesthetic points.
Basics: Thick, fleecy, DWR-treated bib tights for winter riding
Pros:Warm and dry, comfortable chamois, comfortable on-the-bike fit
Cons: Sizing runs small, does not accommodate junk-in-the-trunk or hip-y folks, excessive seams around the hips
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These thermal bib tights have a fleecy inside and a DWR-treated outer surface that keeps them (and you) warm and dry when it’s anything but. I was caught out on a night ride in a freezing rain for over an hour, and while that’s never comfortable, the TK1 tights kept me warm and the front of my legs were still dry once I reached my car.
7Mesh does some interesting things with seams, and the seaming on these tights works great when you’re on the bike (off the bike is a little different, but we’ll get to that later). They run a seam straight up your shin and over the top of your knee to create a natural bend in the garment that eliminates bunching when you bend and move. It’s one of those simple, yet genius designs that makes you scratch your head and wonder why we don’t do that all the time.
They also opted for a zip-free ankle. My ankles and calves are not exactly thin and delicate, and I often find that zippers on the ankles of tights restrict the overall stretch and forgiveness of the rest of garment in that area. The TK1 bib tights easily pulled over my feet and comfortably accommodated the girth of my cankles and less-than-delicate calves without being loose.
7Mesh’s bib design is more like suspenders than traditional bibs. That means there’s still very much a waist band on the tights, and in fact, that waistband is doing most of the work of keeping the tights on. This makes the bib straps a mere formality. In the case of the TK1 tights, the straps aren’t even designed in such a way that they could act as the primary support of the garment. They’re thin, low-profile and comfortable straps, but they don’t really seem to add anything to the tights. If I’m adding the material and complexity of a bib, I feel like they should accomplish something vital.
There’s also quite a bit going on with seams around the chamois and hips. Part of it is related to the way the chamois is sewn in and part is to provide a good on-the-bike fit. The chamois is sewn in with what 7Mesh calls a hammock system, which is an apt description. It’s a free-moving pad that is anchored across the front and back of the tights, creating a horizontal seam across the hips. The chamois itself is quite comfortable and on the plusher side. The sewing design and pad seem to do their jobs wonderfully as I never once thought about them while riding. Additional seaming appears to accommodate a road biking position, but when you aren’t on the bike, the overall appearance resembles a pair of briefs that cut directly across the squishier parts of your body. My vanity dislikes this look, but the practical side of me admits that they are really comfortable while riding.
7Mesh runs small, but in addition to that, the TK1s seem to be designed for a woman with thin, straight hips. I’m not especially curvy, and I struggle to get the them over my hips and bum, though they fit quite well everywhere else. So, while 7Mesh claims the TK1 bib tight and strap design accommodate easy peeing, I must disagree. Trying to work the waistband down over my rear is a challenge; add in superfluous bib straps, and I’m just going to find a Starbucks where I can remove all my layers in order to pee without freezing.
While not without their flaws, if the TK1s fit your body they are incredibly warm. The DWR-treated material will bead rain, road spray, and snow, and the thick fleece insulates while still moving moisture away from your body. I’ve embraced the function of the tights over the aesthetic shortfall of the seams and the lack of function of the bib straps, because, at the end of the (wintery) day, I like being warm when I ride.