Castelli’s new bib shorts represent a reinvention for the Italian brand, featuring a self proclaimed ‘papery feel’ which promises less is more - with fewer panels and fast drying fabric aiming to provide the ultimate in long ride comfort.
The shorts are comprised of just three panels, compared to around 10 elsewhere. This has been made possible by the use of a stretch woven fabric, with rubberised yarns which keep the 6cm (women’s bib shorts) and 7cm (men’s bib shorts) long leg grippers in place.
The woven fabric, made stretchy with the addition of 35 per cent Lycra, is both thinner and denser than traditional material, and Castelli also says it’s more abrasion resistant though we’ve not had a chance to put this to the test against the harshness of the road surface, just yet.
The fabric feels notably different - ‘papery’ is certainly an appropriate adjective, conjuring images of the kind of table clothes which feature at children’s birthday parties, but with more stretch and fewer spills.
In terms of the pad, Castelli has opted for its Progetto X2 Air Seamless chamois - with its Skin Care Layer close to the skin and Cushioning Layer providing the squish. This is made up of soft foam, a medium-density foam, and 3mm gel pads under the sit bone and perineum. The 3D forming process used means that the thickness varies gradually throughout. It's a pad we've tested in a range of shorts, and never to any dissatisfaction.
The bib uses a seamless waist, to prevent digging in, with a mesh rear and silicone grip strips on the straps.
Castelli Premio Black bib shorts: first ride impressions
Castelli’s new bib shorts arrived in a presentation box, which doesn’t exactly tick the eco-friendly box, but was at least nice to look at.
Pulling them from the packaging, the difference in fabric construction was obvious, with clear comparisons between this and the crepe paper of primary school art classes.
Donning the shorts, however, the fabric conformed to fit perfectly. Despite being extremely lightweight, it's dense enough not to reveal any unwanted outlines so I don't have any fears of being the rider no one wants to sit behind. Being so thin, initial tests show that this construction copes particularly well on the turbo trainer, outperforming all but the very best indoor specific shorts.
Castelli says it has created these shorts with your longest summer rides at front of mind, and I’ve yet to put these to the test over such a duration. On short trips, the pad is ample, and there’s enough stretch and support in the upper that it stays put without issue.
As a serial critiquer of leg grippers, these are perfect out the box, not digging in whilst also staying out. However, time will have to tell if they’ll continue to provide the same performance as rides and washes take their toll - some thinner fabrics can begin to curl. However, a lack of silicone does make these an entirely different proposition so I’d not expect them to behave in the same way.
The price, at £200/£220, represents the fact that this is new technology for Castelli. Whether the brand continues to develop it will likely come down to the appetite of consumers, but based on early rides, we'd place these in the 'worth if if you've got the spare cash' category.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.
A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly.
When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.
She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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