Technology is helping us avoid riding outdoors in bad weather. Highly interactive virtual riding platforms such as ZWIFT are changing the behaviour of cyclists. Even amongst my own group of riding buddies, more and more are choosing to stay indoors during the rainy months and compete in virtual races from the comfort of their homes.
I think this is fantastic. Riding in bad weather isn't fun despite the romanticism attached to it. It's also quite dangerous, particularly in winter when there is the real danger of sliding out on black ice.
This has affected my product development quite a bit. RedWhite Apparel used to focus exclusively on "hot weather" bibshorts. Until June 2020, I did not offer a winter version of the popular long distance bibshorts. I simply wasn't confident about the long-term demand for winter cycling kit. Winter kit also tends to be really expensive. Thermal fabrics are not cheap and this results in a product that is costly and gets far less use than regular (and cheaper) summer kit.
If you happen to have a ZWIFT monthly subscription, it becomes harder to justify spending a lot of money on expensive kit for foul weather riding when you can re-use your summer kit indoors. This was my belief.
I quickly learnt that this belief was not accurate.
In December 2019, I wrote a blog post talking about indoor cycling and the potential impact on demand for winter cycling kit. Customer comments on that blog post told me 2 things :
- Winter riding is alive and well - on gravel (it's far safer than encountering black ice on roads).
- Customers do ride more indoors thanks to technology, but when a good winter day arrives, they seize that opportunity to ride outdoors.
It was obvious at this point that RedWhite Apparel had to develop something for these good winter days and for the gravel riders. The most common item to develop would have been a full length winter bib tight. I personally didn't think that was a good idea because it wouldn't be versatile. A full length bib tight would keep you warm at the start of your ride, but unless the temperature remained as cold, you'd quickly overheat. This would result in a piece of kit that could only be used on the coldest days.
A more versatile option would be a Thermal Bibshort. Fleece backed lycra keeps your groin, tummy, back and thighs warm. Customers can pair this with leg or knee warmers for colder morning starts. As the temperature climbs, the warmers can be peeled off. The bibshort can be used in a wider range of temperatures, particularly during the fringe seasons to winter. It would also be a much cheaper product to purchase, giving you more value.
The BIB - Thermal is the product of this thought process. It was initially launched to a small number of customers in Winter 2019 and is now available as permanent option within the RedWhite Apparel product line-up. Just in time for winter in Australia & New Zealand.
Do you own a pair of thermal bibshorts? Is it a product you would consider? Or do you prefer full length thermal bib-tights? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
@GARY KEARNS : Am I correct in assuming you have a 25km round trip commute everyday? I haven’t thought much about products for commuters honestly. It’s definitely something I should start focusing on. I don’t quite know how big it is, but from what I am seeing during this pandemic, more people are choosing to ride a bike than squeeze in with others on public transport.
@CAMERON : Sizing is definitely an issue with buying clothing online. What matters most is the after sales service as well. If you got something that didn’t fit well, the very least you ought to be able to do is to return or exchange it fuss-free.
@MARK W : What I gather from this thread so far is that the demand for full-length bib tights is about the same as thermals. I should be developing some for Winter 2020.
@JOHN HAWKINS : You just added a tricky dimension to my product development effort. I hadn’t considered a “pad-less” bib tight since one of they key highlights of a RedWhite bibshort is the pad. It also doesn’t cost a whole lot more to include a pad in. A customer would only end up paying $20 more roughly for a bib-tight with a pad, which makes it a worthwhile top-up.
I’m an all-weather, four seasons rider. Cycling to work and back is my main opportunity to fit exercise and intensity into my working week, especially with gyms being difficult during the pandemic. I have a Zwift subscription, but now that we are back in the office I use it mainly at weekends if the weather renders the weekend group ride dangerous, and for recovery sessions.
After several months enjoying Zwift while under lockdown, it is nevertheless no substitute for riding outdoors, both physically and psychologically. The first few weeks back were a stark reminder of what I was missing.
I love my redwhite bibs. They’re the best I’ve ever owned, and I have four pairs. During the southern hemisphere winter, I wear a pair of dhb Flashlight non-bib tights over the top for warmth and visibility, as my rides usually start or end in the dark during the shorter daylight hours. Having two layers down to the knee with bibs underneath is also warmer. However, on their own they slide down and bunch up over the slippery redwhite bibs, so I have to use a set of my dad’s old suspenders to keep them up!
I would really like a couple of sets of winter bib tights, without the chamois but with generous reflective paint/panels on the sides and rear of the lower leg. I see quite a lot of riders in Sydney with these same tights. No chamois would make them more affordable and more appealing, as riders can mix ‘n’ match. Leg warmers under knicks are not as comfortable, especially for longer rides.
There are not a lot of companies making these at a reasonable price point. Done well and promoted well, they would be a steady seller.
I would be interested in both shorts and tights for cold weather. I use both, and I ride in virtually any weather.
I am definitely interested in your winter bibshorts but also equally in winter bibtights as well. It’s such a minefield buying these on the internet as I have yet to find a product that I’m satisfied with and sizing is a nightmare unless it’s a brand you have bought before.
Commuters might also factor in winter riding stats. I Commute to work year around, and while I don’t ride as much through winter, I still average 75km of commuting a week, as opposed to 125km a week during Summer. In the depths of winter I deal with windchill in double figures and will always wear tights over bibs+leg warmers, because bibs typically can’t keep me warm enough. An observation I have made is, I have a couple of pairs of cheap low end tights that do not assist with muscle compression, that are very comfortable to wear all day under my work gear (I work outside), where as, “proper” tights, of a quality I would wear for a long winter training ride, are not comfortable to wear all day, I presume because they are designed with muscle compression in mind. I go through a fresh set of riding kit every day I commute. Maybe there is a market for thermal shorts and tights that have a simple construction and are manufactured from common tried and trusted materials, for Commuters who will typically be riding no more than an hour, but who go through several sets of kit a week?
@DAVID MEIKLE : Really happy they’re working well in the Australian winter :).
@JONATHAN : I haven’t entirely ruled out full length bib-tights just yet. Keep an eye out for winter 2020.
@HOLGER : Cargo bibshorts are coming and yes, I do have plans for Cargo Thermal Bibshorts. These 2 new products are based on feedback from the gravel grinders and multi-day racers/adventure riders.
@BRIAN CRUMMY : I probably won’t develop knee warmers because you can actually buy pretty good quality ones from a number of companies. That being said, it isn’t something I would rule out if enough people want those.
@DAVID MANSFIELD : Climate change is definitely causing some places in the world to heat up. In Singapore it is raining a lot more during period that are typically dry. It’s really interesting to see how you yourself are experiencing this and your clothing usage has changed as a result. I am glad to know I am on the right track by choosing to develop thermal bibshorts.
@PAUL WINKFIELD : Really glad to know you’re still out riding at 70! I personally hate rollers or any form of indoor riding so 90 mins on them sounds absolutely terrible. Do your full length tights get a lot of use?
@ROB MCIVOR : Very familiar with British winters. I have vacationed in Scotland in October (cheap flights and accommodation compared to summer pricing) and the biggest problem is the wet. Keeping you dry is tricky because DWR coated lycra does eventually get wet the longer you ride in the rain. I am always on the lookout for thermal lycra that breathes and is waterproof. Nobody has cracked this yet.
@MICHAEL AUNGIER : I am trying to move faster these day and respond more quickly to customer demands for new products. More stuff coming out this year ;)
I will be definitely ordering mine in soon. They will probably get more use than my summer ones, once end of Sept arrives. So long waiting for you to provide these for us. Don’t normally leave comments, but your company is exceptional.
Here in the UK, the die-hards have a saying: “Winter miles count as double”. Our winters aren’t as severe as some of your customers’ but they can still be wet and bitter, yet you’ll see riders out and about in all kinds of weather and, of course, our Audax UK event calendar has rides of at least 200km all year round. The thermal bibs sound like a great product and I will be putting them on my Christmas wish list.
I’m 70yrs, started racing at 16, living in mid-atlantic region of the US, ‘the hawk’ is no joke! I own several pairs of full length bibs, a few nickers, and wool jerseys, your thermal bibs great idea. I still own Cinelli rollers 90 minutes tops! Since the 80s MTB even in the snow!
I do not own a pair of thermal shorts. I have one pair of thermal full length and one pair of nickers. Iive in North Carolina and our winters have been getting milder. As a result, you can count on one hand how many times I wear them in a year over the last few years. I typically go with regular bib shorts combined with leg warmers more often. I do sometimes experience the issues you mentioned as a result. I would add a pair of thermal shorts to my collection for those days. They would actually get more use than my nickers or full length would.
As a Red White fan that lives in Chicago, I welcome the addition of the RW thermal bib. It seems like a piece that can enhance my comfort for October – November – and maybe Early December rides. BUT, I’m never afraid to ask for a bit more and like Jonathon (above) agree that full length thermals would also be a great addition to the RW lineup. If I ask for RW knee warmers would I be pressing too far? Because those would be great as well.
I was privileged to be part of the initial group of customers. It was my first pair of thermal bibs. I own two winter tights for riding the bike and a few for running. Before I would always have to wear the tights. Now I can choose the bibs for temps around 5-13°. It works perfectly and is very comfortable. Know what be the icing on the cake? Thermal cargo bibs! 😎 (I always choose cargo bibs if the temps allow for them. So much more freedom in carrying stuff)
I live in northern Japan, and while I certainly appreciate your logic – pairing the shorts with leg warmers or the like, I would also like to see full length winter tights. I personally hate indoor training. I ride in all conditions – I have 4 bikes for different purposes – MTB, gravel, a couple of road bikes. And when I go winter riding, I go winter riding. Sometimes on my MTB with spike tires in the snow. That’s when a pair of bib-tights would be absolutely awesome. Paired with a nice pair of skiing/snowboard socks and super heavy duty shoe covers, it would make snow riding a lot better. I’m still definitely considering the thermal bib-shorts, but definitely was a little disappointed there wasn’t a full leg tights options available yet.
As always, thank you for listening to your customers and responding to our comments and suggestions. That’s why I’m actually leaving a comment. I have confidence that you’ll at the very least actually read it and give it some consideration. And, yes, I love my regular RW bibshorts. Planning on ordering a second pair pretty soon, so thanks!
Having just clocked up the first couple of rides in me new thermal bib shirts I’m delighted to report that as well as being as comfortable and fitted as my other RW bibs, the extra warmth was appreciated from the minute I pulled them on and throughout the rest of the ride. 10/10 for mine.