Biehler Thermal Matrix Bib Tights
With bib tights it’s not just the pad. Yes, as we always say here ‘the pad is critical’, but the general cut, fit, the compression, and the warmth is also crucial. Otherwise you’re going to spend a very long day draped in something that is baggy, saggy, cold and basically uncomfortable. Biehler are cyclists themselves, so know about this, and have come up trumps as usual with their Thermal Matrix offering for winter. They’re so proud of them that they’ve put a big B on the rear too! And rightly so, because these are top quality butt huggers for your winter riding.
When you’re wearing bib tights, you don’t want to feel like a bad example of a fashion victim. You just want to ride in comfort, and know that you look as good as you feel. We think that Biehler have achieved it here. There’s more panels on these bibs than tours won by Bernard Hinault, and lord knows that fella could ride! They’re well designed and well cut, to ensure that they cling to you — the shape that they show is not the fault of Biehler I’m afraid!
Biehler describe the material as Thermocouple Super-Roubaix material with double-layer windstop function in the front area. All we know is that it works very well. On some very cold night mountain bike rides over the Dales, these bibs have left me feeling very snug indeed. Not too warm, as that’s a bad thing when you get pedaling hard’ but just the right temperature to keep you smiling.
In terms of the hard work side of things, when you start to sweat, the variety of material thicknesses ensures that you’re firstly not too restricted in your movement, and secondly, that the moisture created is moved away from you in the right manner – and on some of the steep and rocky night ascents, I did indeed create some moisture.
The material is also super stretchy and strong, meaning that it moves with you. The compression properties are superb in the leg area, where I counted 6 panels on each leg, with a variety of materials used; clearly designed to help you move freely with the articulated knee, keep you warm, and to keep those muscles working for as long as possible. It’s tough material too, as I found out with a wet leaves tumble on a night road ride. Picking myself up and getting back onto the bike, the bibs were undamaged, whilst my pride was dented!
The straps are extremely strong, being made of the same high quality Roubaix material, meaning that you’re kept warm on the chest and back too; and Biehler have sewn a neat little radio / Ipod pocket onto the back. Stitching is flat locked and built into the overall design and styling, as the image to the left shows. Down at the ankles you’ve got tough zippers, and a touch of reflective material, finished off with a quality griper to hold things tight.
The pad itself is a long distance one from this German brand, meaning that it’ll do its job all day long, and indeed it does so superbly. I loved it on some steep trips out to Wensleydale and Swaledale recently. It’s described as ‘Carbon 4 multi chamber’, which I guess means it has several areas of varying thickness, which it does. It’s nice and thick under the sit bones, has a small section of thick padding where required at the front, and folds around you neatly with thinner padding elsewhere, meaning that you don’t look like you’re wearing a nappy down your pants. It also does its job very well in terms of soaking up moisture.
Wearing these tights in varying conditions, including some sleet on the top of the moor recently, the leg areas kept me as dry as necessary and extremely warm. The compression was, as indicated earlier, really superb. My legs simply didn’t need telling to ‘shut up!’ They were cosy and happy to keep turning the cranks, and on a cold winter ride that’s what we ask for I guess.
In terms of price, these currently retail a touch over £100, which we feel is excellent value. How do they compare with others we‘ve tested? They’re at the top end of the table, and will leave any cyclist happy that they put a pair into their own cycling wardrobe. Time then to add these to your cycling wardrobe and keep riding outside during the colder periods where nature produces some beautiful scenes during the crisp cold days of the year, and it’d be a shame to miss them!