By Brandon Bilyeu
- Ample stretch is non-restrictive
- Super comfortable chamois
- Balanced warmth and breathability
- Thigh cargo pockets
- Drop tail for nature breaks
- Reflective elements
- Sizing inconsistent across PI products
Expedition Thermal Bib Tight: $185
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: online, retail
Colors: Urban Sage
Website: Expedition Thermal Cycling Bib Tight
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 20+ hours
Sizing: S – XXL
Reviewer Measurements and Fit Comments: 5’10” (178cm), 150 lbs (68 kgs), 33″ (84cm) waist, 38” (96.5cm) hips, 33″ (84cm) inseam, 37″ (94cm) chest. I tested size Medium and the fit was acceptable but a little loose in the torso, likely better if I would have sized down. I have found PI sizing to be a bit inconsistent, so always best to try them on at your local bike shop, if possible.
Stay Comfortable in the Cold
Pearl Izumi has three weather categories for their cycling tights: Cool, Cold, and Deep Cold. The Expedition Thermal Cycling Bib Tights fall into the Cold category. Temperature comfort ranges vary from person to person, but the Cold range is probably the most versatile as it has more insulation than the plain lycra of the Cool range and more freedom of movement than the Deep Cold kit with AmFIB softshell fabric.
With tights the fabric over the knee has to stretch with every pedal upstroke. Tights designed for very cold temperatures and blocking wind/water tend to have less stretch and this can add noticeable restriction to leg movements (admittedly a fair tradeoff to not freeze to death). I love the freedom of movement of summer shorts, so in the winter I stick to stretchy fleece tights as long as possible. The Expedition Tights are made with wonderfully soft and stretchy thermal fleece fabric that has a “barely there” feel. In fact, the stretch combined with inconsistent sizing across PI products means I would have likely been better off sizing down. The torso was a bit oversized, but this might be good depending on your body shape.
The tights are held up with silky, paper-thin bib straps with a moderate height back so you don’t overheat and can control upper insulation with jersey layers. The Expedition Tights also have PI’s drop-tail design for easy nature breaks. This is a very nice feature on winter tights so you don’t have to fully undress in the cold in order to use the toilet or bushes. Where I found the drop-tail on the Expedition PRO Bib Short to be almost impossible to use, the stretchy material on these Expedition Tights makes using the drop-tail a breeze.
I really appreciated the cargo pockets on the thighs for easy access to my snacks and phone. Typically, my food/gear is stored in jersey pockets under my jacket which means removing my heavy gloves and pulling up my jacket for access, both of which cause me to lose precious heat. The cargo pockets are much easier to access and being able to actually see them helps a lot when digging around for a sweet treat.
I really liked the Levitate PRO chamois in the Expedition PRO Bib Shorts and the next step down Levitate PLUS used in the Expedition Tights is just as good. Technically the PLUS uses thinner and lower density foams than the PRO, but on the bike, I can’t tell the difference. Padding and support is excellent while the center relief channel works well to reduce pressure on the soft tissues. This is a chamois that can be ridden all day in comfort.
I was comfortable in the Expedition Tights from temperatures in the mid-50s down to freezing. Breathability was good enough to keep me dry in warmer temperatures while the fleece held warmth and blocked wind to deal with the cold. The tight material is also treated with PI’s permanent PI Dry technology to help keep water out. PI Dry is water resistant and easily sheds small amounts of water like a puddle splash or short bout of drizzle, but sustained precipitation will get through fairly quickly.
Bottom Line – The Expedition Tights are super comfortable thanks to the stretchy fleece material and the Levitate PLUS chamois. The drop-tail and cargo pockets add versatility that is actually useful in cold weather. Watch the sizing and consider dropping down a size.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Regensburg, Germany. He’s a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.