The Castelli Inferno bib shorts have become my natural choice for big days in the saddle in hot weather. Not only are they as comfortable as you'd expect from a £120 pair of bib shorts, but the perforated side panel and mesh leg grippers make them very cool and breathable too.
As you might be able to ascertain from their name, the Castelli Inferno bib shorts are the lightest bib shorts that Castelli make, and are specifically designed for riding in really hot weather at the height of summer.
One of the most complicated pairs of bib shorts on the market, the Castelli Inferno bib shorts are made of no fewer than six different fabrics, ranging from the open mesh of the leg grippers and the perforated side panels, to the reinforced (but slightly more breathable) panel under the chamois, all of which have been designed for optimum cooling.
And I have to see that they work a treat. I’ve worn the Castelli Inferno bib shorts for a handful of rides in really hot weather and found them to significantly cooler than other “normal” bib shorts. Especially when the temperature is at the upper echelons of Castelli’s stated 18-35ºC temperature range the little holes in the sides of the shorts do a really excellent job.
At the bottom of the Castelli Inferno bib shorts you find the “GiroAir engineered mesh leg gripper”, which is basically a two inch wide loop of mesh where you would expect the gripper to be (similar to the hem found on the Sportful R&D SC bib shorts but without the lycra underneath). I have to admit that I expected these to stretch too easily and for the shorts to ride up, but thankfully they’re more effective than they look, holding the shorts securely in place.
Watch: how to dress for hot conditions
However, one thing you do really have to watch out for with these shorts is sunburn. Castelli says on its website that you should apply suncream underneath the shorts, but of course I decided to ignore this, ending up with little circles of red sunburn all the way up the sides of my thighs. Lesson learned.
At the heart of the Castelli Inferno bib shorts is Castelli’s Progetto X2 chamois pad, the top of the range model from the Italian brand. This three-layer pad is as comfortable as you’d expect given the price of these shorts, providing enough cushioning to cope with long days in the saddle, while it is also nice and breathable to help with hygiene down there on hot days.
The straps are certainly less high tech than the rest of these short, with a standard mesh construction that works very well, but is not quite as neat as the lazer cut straps found on other high end shorts. However there is a pocket for your race radio stitched into the back, which is a neat touch.
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