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The weather is starting to cool down in the southern hemisphere so it is a good time to make sure the winter wardrobe is well stocked for the months ahead. In this first-look review, Matt Wikstrom tests out a softshell jacket and winter tights made by BBB.
I’ve found that stocking the wardrobe for winter can be a challenge. Rain and wind has a much greater bearing on the temperature in cold weather than it does in the summer months. As a consequence, a much wider variety of garments is required. Some experimentation is also required to work out what kind of garments are best suited to local conditions and the individual’s riding needs. Realistically, most riders will need a few seasons to stock their winter wardrobe as they slowly accumulate garments that work for them.
BBB has an impressive range of clothing in its catalogue. That the company was born (and is still based) in the Netherlands may also go some way to explaining the variety and depth of their winter clothing range. The company offers enough variations for its gloves, vests, tights and jackets that most riders should be able to find a combination to meet their specific needs.
In this review, I take a closer look at a softshell jacket and tights to learn more about the kind of fit and performance buyers can expect from BBB’s winter clothing.
BBW-261 ControlShield winter jacket
BBB’s BBW-261 ControlShield winter jacket is made from Trioxx, a soft windproof material that is also water-repellent. Lined with fleece, I found it was warm, soft on the skin, and immediately comfortable when getting dressed on a cool morning.
Panels of Thermoplus are used instead of Trioxx under the arms and down the centre of the back to encourage transpiration. Thermoplus is not quite as thick or heavy as Trioxx and as promised, it affords a reasonable amount of airflow. Indeed, it makes for a marked contrast to the rest of the jacket, which is essentially impermeable to cold air.
The insulation of the jacket is helped further by a protective flap behind the zipper and Lycra cuffs that reach over the thumbs to cover the hands to the knuckles. The latter ensures that the jacket marries well with the gloves to provide a strong seal against the cold.
There are three pockets at the rear of the jacket with an extra zippered waterproof compartment on top of the centre pocket and a small pouch inside the left pocket. The hem is lined with a silicone strip to help keep the jacket in place while long reflective strips on the front, back and sleeves promise to improve the visibility of the jacket.
The jacket offers a close fit. A size medium felt a lot like a long-sleeve jersey though there was enough room for a short sleeve jersey or an undershirt. The length of the sleeves is very generous and the hem reached past my waist without being too long. All told, the fit and proportions were good a good match for my upper body.
In the absence of true winter weather, I can only guess at how effective the ControlShield jacket will be against low temperatures, but it offered plenty of comfort for temperatures in the low ‘teens (i.e. 12-14°C). I’d expect it to continue to perform well in temperatures close to freezing, where the addition of a base layer and thicker gloves might be all that is needed to stay warm.
It is worth noting that while Trioxx fabric is water-resistant, I wouldn’t count the ControlShield jacket as a wet weather garment. It will offer some protection against a shower, however the Thermoplus panel at the back of the jersey offers no protection at all. As a consequence, cold water quickly seeped through and trickled down my back once the rain started to fall.
Finally, the ControlShield jacket is very quiet to wear. There is some whispering from the sleeves against the torso while walking however the close fit ensures that it doesn’t flap about in the wind.
The BBW-261 ControlShield winter jacket is available in three colours (black/blue, black/red, black/neon yellow) and six sizes (S-XXXL) with a recommended retail of $180. For more information, visit BBB.
BBB ControlShield Jacket Gallery
BBW-188 Legshield bib tights
There are essentially four types of Legshield tights in BBB’s catalogue: with or without bib straps, and with or without padding. The BBW-188 Legshield bib tights featured here have straps and padding.
BBB utilises a fabric called Thermotec for these tights, which is essentially a fleece-lined Lycra. It is thicker than typical Lycra (which means it is heavier too) and very stretchy. Multiple panels are used to construct the tights with flat seam stitching. The ankle cuffs are lined with a silicone band and there are small reflective strips located on the outside of the lower legs.
For these tights, BBB adds its “Premium Performance” padding, a reasonably dense formulation with bright green lining. A few different densities are used to shape the padding and limit its bulk.
The size medium tights provided for this review afforded a generous fit. I found I had to double over the cuffs because the tights were too long; when coupled with the stretchy fit, I probably would have been better served by a smaller size.
Regardless, the tights were easy to wear. They were warm and comfortable on the skin and easily resisted temperatures in the low teens. The padding was barely satisfactory though: there seemed to be plenty of cushioning on offer but the lack of elasticity was noticeable. The padding never really seemed to shape itself to suit my position on the saddle.
I wouldn’t recommend these tights for wet weather (or even wet roads). Thermotec has no water resistance so it quickly soaks up any rain. Once wet, the fabric gets heavy, cold and uncomfortable.
Legshield bib tights are available in one colour (black) and six sizes (S-XXXL) with a recommended retail of $150. For more information, visit BBB.
BBB Legshield Bib Tights Gallery
Overall, BBB’s softshell jacket and tights are sound offerings with prices that are quite reasonable. The padding in the Legshield tights was disappointing but otherwise they proved to be warm and comfortable. The ControlShield jacket was much more impressive, where the cuffs stand out as a thoughtful and effective feature. Both garments are ideally suited to cool/cold days where the wind may be blowing hard but there is little or no risk of rain.
RRP: BBW-261 ControlShield winter jacket, $180; BBW-188 Legshield bib tights, $150.