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

  • By Emily Zinn
  • Published Jan. 3, 2013
  • Updated Dec. 8, 2015 at 1:02 PM EDT
Rapha thermal knickers are full-coverage bibs with a small pocket in back. Photo: Emily Zinn |

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.

« Previous Next »

FILED UNDER: Clothesline TAGS: / /

Emily Zinn

Emily Zinn

Emily Zinn spent her infancy in the back of a women's team van while the team built wheels around her. She spent part of her pre-teen years in Europe following the major European mountain, road and gravity races and touring cycling product factories. College was the first time she lived in a home without a frame building shop in her garage or basement. Her favorite style of riding is getting lost in singletrack trail networks and taking her time finding her way back.

Stay updated on all things VeloNews

Subscribe to the FREE VeloNews newsletter