The women's specific Castelli Sorpasso 2 W bib tights provide a skin tight, pro fit and fantastic temperature regulation between 5 -12 degrees - making these a go to choice for most of the colder months.
Until relatively recently, if you wanted decent high performance women's winter kit, then Castelli was your (wo)man. Only one other cycling clothing brand, Assos, could come close to producing high performance female form, fit and function.
With the price tag often ruling that option out, it was down to the Italian super power to keep me out on the bike through the winter months.
Nowadays, kit manufactures are getting better at appreciating women aren't just fair weather riders and do in fact also require decent winter gear to get them through the coldest months. There's now significantly better choice on the market, but my heart will always flutter when the red badged scorpion lands on my desk, which it did with Castelli Sorpasso 2 W bib tights, as I always expect greatness, and hoped that I wasn't going to be disappointed.
Castelli have dubbed the Thermoflex Core2 fabric that the Sorpasso 2 W bib tights are made of as the 'magic mix' as it believes that Nylon outer layer and a hollow-core polyester inner layer are the perfect duo in keeping you warm in a range of temperatures.
According to the brand, the Nylon layer traps air for extra warmth while the polyester/nylon mix actively works to move moisture to the outside and keep you dry, making the Castelli Sorpasso 2 W bib tights comfortable at both colder and warmer temperatures than traditional tights. It's a similar concept to a few tights I've seen of late, such as the Sportful Total Comfort, although this time it's used more or less throughout the tights.
The Thermoflex Core2 fabric also possesses compressive properties, so Castelli have mix it with standard Thermoflex, which has a higher modulus of stretch for what it say's is the perfect balance between stretch and compression.
At the back of the Castelli Sorpasso 2 W bib tights they have a built in lumber compression band to help keep this winter tight firmly in place around the waist while at the lower leg, and, should you opt for the Reflex colour way, reflective strips are teamed with reflective external ankle zip storm flaps for night and low light visibility.
The Castelli Sorpasso 2 W bib tights have been teamed with the women's specific Progetto X2 Air seat pad, which is noticeably different to most multi density seat pads in that instead of a raised ridges settling against your skin, the skin-side surface of the seat pad is uniformly smooth and the multi-density cushion of the seat pad is on the other side of the foam, created by cutting away sections of a single block of uncompressed foam to create variable densities.
The Progetto X2 Air seat pad also features three gel inserts – two under the ischial (“sit”) bones and one in the perineum area, which Castelli call a “viscous comfort zone”.
The fit is certainly tight, I'd put these in the same category as the Rapha Soupless in that they are a pro fit, designed to sit close to the skin, they're another example of being as close as you can get to the feel of being summer kit in terms body contouring with not even so much as a crease of fabric in sight.
Frustratingly the bib aspect is almost too tight, and it's really noticeable across the upper back. It's something that our Cycling Weekly Tech Editor, Symon, picked up on too when he tested the men's Sorpasso II bib tights earlier this year.
I did really like the rest of the fit however, especially the snug feeling from the high front, finishing just below my ribs.
Rolling on the bike and it's clear that these aren't designed for slow pondering rides, as you need to work reasonably hard to get warm, but once you are warm, the Castelli Sorpasso 2 W bib tights are pretty clever, managing to perfectly regulate your temperature, by balancing the breathability aspects as well as the insulation and wind resistance really well.
No where tests this regulation requirement than a day in the northern hills, which have a tendency to increase in steepness and length as soon as autumn arrives, specifically my ride up and over to Goyt Valley which combines three relentless climbs with the corresponding descents in a ride of around 30miles and over 1000 meters of climbing. Speed ranges of less than five miles per hour to knocking on the door of thirty - there's an awful lot of variation for the tights to deal with.
Even with this vast changing terrain and body effort, I can honestly say that not once did I feel too hot or too cold (apart from starting out) - a mark of incredibly well balanced fabric.
The Progetto X2 Air seat pad was really comfortable. For me its slightly too wide, but because it's so malleable and thin in areas that don't require support, it was more of aesthetic thing off the bike.
The Castelli Sorpasso 2 W bib tights are limited in water resistance, that job is left to the Nano Flex range, and with a temperature range of between 5-12 degrees, there are going to be times when they're not up to the bitterness of winter, but as a tight option to get you through autumn to spring they are a great piece of kit, especially for the great price of £140.
Hannah Bussey is Cycling Weekly’s longest serving Tech writer, having started with the Magazine back in 2011.
She's specialises on the technical side of all things cycling, including Pro Peloton Team kit having covered multiple seasons of the Spring Classics, and Grand Tours for both print and websites. Prior to joining Cycling Weekly, Hannah was a successful road and track racer, competing in UCI races across the world, and has raced in most of Europe, China, Pakistan and New Zealand. For fun, she's ridden LEJoG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, win 24 hour mountain bike race and tackle famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas. She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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