- Great temperature balance
- Great fit
- Water resistant lower
- Chamois padding distribution
- No reflective detailing
Price as reviewed:
Three-quarter length bib tights are a thing of the past and lighter weight tights are the future. Fabrics for cycle clothing have come a long way in recent years, to the point that Castelli believe you can now experience all the benefits of a three-quarter length—and none of the negatives—in a full length tight.
The LW moniker stands for Light Winter; these tights are designed for high intensity riding in cool spring and autumn weather, or warmer winter days. The kind of rides where you would overheat in a full-on winter tight but need more protection than just a set of leg warmers—essentially, the kind of riding that we experience most often in the UK.
From the knees up, the tights are made from a fleecy Thermoflex fabric, apparently built to the specification of Team Ineos Grenadiers. The lower part of the tights, covering the calves, is constructed from a ‘Nano Flex Light’ fabric which—although not fleecy—is designed to be a water repellent barrier against any cold water being flicked up at you.
By utilising two distinct fabrics, these tights manage to be breathable enough that you won’t swelter when putting in a hard effort, while still offering enough protection to stave off any spray induced chills.
Zips have been eschewed on the ankles in the name of weight reduction, but thanks to the very stretchy fabric, the cuff still fits perfectly and leaves no gaps. In fact, it is almost alarming how much the fabric can stretch when taking the tights on and off, but so far the tights have retained their elasticity and ping back to original shape immediately—which is encouraging for the long term.
The bib straps come up a little on the short side, you can feel them pulling down into your shoulders when stood up straight, although this is unnoticeable when in a riding position. As a garment for gloomier times, it would have been nice for some reflective highlights to have been included on these tights.
Taking these out for hard interval sessions, the tights performed exactly as intended. The fleecy uppers kept me warm between sets and were reasonably good at blocking out the wind. Then, when putting in the efforts, although I got quite hot, I didn’t feel clammy at all—the balance between breathability and warmth was exactly spot on.
But it was the lowers that really stood out. Being so light and thin it almost felt as though they weren’t there, it was only the absence of intermittent icy waves from errant puddles that alerted me to their presence. The design of these tights genuinely does provide the benefits of a three-quarter length bib tight and none of the negatives.
I found the fit of the tights to be perfect, no excess material in any place but also not feeling in any way restrictive. The stretchy and supple fabric didn’t impede my pedal stroke in the slightest.
The chamois had a bit more padding under the perineum than I would have liked, but then my preference is for as little pressure there as possible, running a saddle with a large central cut-out to that effect. Depending on your saddle/seating preferences, this may not be an issue for you – but since it’s expected that riders will complete hard on-the-rivet efforts in these, I doubt I’d be in the minority.
The fleecy tops of these tights don’t offer much in the way of protection from the rain. I found this okay when doing harder efforts, but endurance rides in the cold and wet are beyond the remit of these tights and a full winter option would be more appropriate.
At £130, the Castelli LW 2 bib tights offer pretty good value for money. Although there are tights which can do a similar job for a lower price, such as the Endura Xtract bibtights at £70, Castelli’s use of more technical fabrics does make the performance better.
On the other end of the scale, these are a veritable bargain compared to the lovely—but expensive—Assos HabutightsMille S7 at £170, offering similar levels of fit and performance. A more direct competitor is Santini with the Fashion Vega Bibtights which cost £140, so the Castelli tights compare favourably here too.
These bib tights offer a great balance between warmth and breathability which makes them perfect for the kind of winter weather we experience most often in the UK. The lack of reflective detailing is a let down, and the chamois doesn’t have the best padding distribution for me personally, but I'd have no trouble in recommending these. Their versatility means they are likely to be your most used bib tights and the price is relatively good value.
Sizes: S – XXXL