It’s not too often that we have weather cold enough to warrant riding in thermal bibs here in California – more specifically on the Central Coast. However, after a bunch or riding during an extended cold snap, we decided to wrap up our test on the Specialized SWAT “Therminal” bibs, a lightly insulated set of a premium, knicker length base layer. As expected, they feature SWAT storage – SWAT is an acronym for Storage, Water, Air, Tools. On Specialized bikes that can range anywhere from a simple multi tool attached to your water bottle cage to stashing burritos in your downtube. With their apparel line, it basically comes down to well thought out storage space that is integrated into both the base and outer layers. Anyhow, here’s how the Therminal bibs have treated us over the last couple of winters…
- “Therminal” brushed fleece fabrics
- “Deflect” wind panel
- 20-inch inseam (size Medium)
- Five “SWAT” pockets
- Sizing: S, M (tested), L, XL, XXL
- Retail: $110.00 USD
On the front of the knee/shin area and surrounding the groin, the bibs feature a thin, soft, minimalist layer of brushed fleece to keep you warm.
On the thighs there are discrete side pockets to stow some extra cargo. A tacked down tab part way across is ideal if you’re carrying a mini-pump as it helps keep it in place.
Itch free, well reinforced stitching.
Three roomy pockets are on the SWAT storage area near the lower back. You can actually fit 3 water bottles in there. It seems silly, but we’ve done it just to see how it would go.
These button down tabs integrate with Specialized baggy shorts to help keep them in place and prevent them from shifting. If you don’t like them, you can easily just snip them off.
Scattered silicone dots are featured inside of the elastic bands that grip your calves and prevent slippage.
The chamois is quite soft to the touch and features a “Deflect” wind resistant panel.
On the Trail
Most of our apparel reviews are quite brief as there is only so much to dissect, but here we go…The fit of the Therminal bibs was spot on accurate and we really liked that the panels were pre-articulated for a riding position. This meant that there was no shifting around and no extra tension in any particular areas while riding. The chamois proved to be extremely comfortable and did in fact help keep the effects of wind at bay. The shape and contour was ideal and didn’t inhibit movement or bunch up. The padding was just about right – not too thick or thin, and with a soft outer layer that didn’t chaffe.
The fleece was nicely placed and didn’t ever feel overbearing or excessive. If we started out a ride during a cold morning, the additional length and insulation was nice, but as we finished in increasing temperatures, the bibs were never overwhelmingly warm. Up top, the mesh back panel and straps kept moisture wicking nicely away. While we only rode the Therminal bibs under baggy shorts, they could be worn without and in combination with an XC style jersey, or even on the road bike. Additionally, we also even wore the Theminal bibs with light duty kneepads overtop of them and the pads stayed put fairly well.
Always looking for reasons to ditch the hydration pack, we’ve been stoked on all things SWAT for some time now. In combination with a bottle cage and a tube strap, you can stash most of what you would in a small hydration pack, but without the sweaty back and bouncing around.
All in all, much like the SWAT pro bibs that we’ve been riding, the Therminal SWAT bibs are excellent and price is pretty good too. They’re damn good cold weather nicker length bibs…The storage is just icing on the cake. As it isn’t all that cold in California very often, we haven’t exactly been running these through the ringer and wearing them out. Admittedly, that makes touching on durability a bit tough, but they share a great deal of construction and materials with the SWAT pro bibs which we actually have worn and washed a great deal. With that in mind, we feel confident in their craftsmanship. Overall, we can’t find any real faults in the Therminal SWAT bibs – on the cold brisk days, they’re actually quite divine.