Spring Clothing Round-Up: Castelli

Spring Clothing Round-Up: Castelli – by Grannygear

Editor’s Note: With this post we wrap up our look at clothing for the season of Spring/Summer.

Grannygear modeling Castelli Bib Shorts
Grannygear living the “bib life” in Castelli Free Aero Race 4 bib shorts.

Castelli Free Aero Race 4 Wrap:  Driving that Ferrari.
Before I get into the one, tiny, slightly corrective measure I might make, let me say this:  These are the best bib shorts I have ever worn. It’s not like these are twice as good as anything else I have used or anything as dramatic as that, but when you consider fit, materials, comfort over long rides, and just overall ‘feel’, nothing else has ticked the boxes as well as these.

Castelli Free Aero 4 Race Bibs

Let’s see why that is. From the website:

Getting feedback from Team Ineos this year has meant trips to Belgium, Nice, Manchester and all around Italy, as well as Skype calls based around racing and training schedules. The recurring feedback from the riders is that their Free Bibshort (the same one you could buy in 2018) is really, really good. The only requested changes were a loop in the bib to hold the microphone for the race radio and one rider who wanted his seat pad moved back a bit. And it’s not only Team Ineos that likes it. The 2018 Free Aero Race Bibshort is the best-selling Castelli short of all time.

So for 2019 we’ve made some dramatic changes. Not because Team Ineos or you were asking for it, but because we’ve been riding in it a ton and thinking constantly about how we could make it better.There’s a new leg gripper that still features a lie-flat raw-cut edge but now has vertical silicone stripes to keep it in place without restricting stretch.

The new fabric allows for better print quality for your custom team production, the same as Team Ineos will use in 2019.We’ve updated the seams to improve the fit and make the short look even better on the body. We’ve re-engineered the bib straps with new fabrics and construction so they stay cooler, lie flatter and are more durable. The revised Free 3 Aero Race Bibshort also receives the updated Progetto X2 Air seamless seat pad featuring the softest surface fabric you’ve ever felt in a seat pad. You’ll be glad we ignore the old saying, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Starting from the bottom up, the wide leg grip section never offends at all and is a vast improvement over the old way of doing it with a narrow band of elastic.  Most all the shorts I see now are done the same way but these are just right.  Oh, by the way, I did size up to a LG.  I might have been OK in a MED, but it’s Italian after all.

Detail of the aero panel on the castelli Free Aero bib shorts
Those little details in the legging? Free aero.

I assume the ‘Free Aero’ part is a nod to the textured side panels that are supposed to give me some free speed. Does it?  No idea, but it looks cool.  The legs are about right, length wise, and the fit is less squeezy than the Assos bibs.  The Progetto X2 Air chamois is the most deluxe pad I have ever seen. At first I had this ‘too full’ feeling when wearing them, like the chamois was just too much, especially in the center/middle.  Oddly enough, that feeling went away as I used them more.  Not sure if I adapted to it or it to me.  If I were to tweak one thing it would be to thin the pad more in the very midsection where almost all saddles are cut out now.  That might just be a nod to my aging body and the fact that I am just more sensitive as I hit Senior Citizen discount age and beyond.  

In any case, it’s a trifle.

Moving upwards still, the back section and straps are very sheer.  This bodes well for hot weather and such.  The shoulder straps are easy to live with with no pulling or tightness issues.  Sewn into the back section is a very small pocket where one could stash a latch key or car key or a bit of folding cash, but nothing more.

But hey, there are a lot of very good shorts out there for less money than the $199.99 that these cost.  Those other bibs are comfy too.  And good looking too.  And well made too. Like the Reggies for instance.

Progetto pad in the Castelli Free Aero bib short
The Progetto X2 pad was a bit “more” than Grannygear preferred.

However, as a package, none of them I have used come together as well as the Castelli Free Aero 4s do. It’s a fine line between very, very, good and great and the Castelli Free Aero 4s have stepped over that line. 

My last big ride in them was a 100 mile charity road ride, something I seldom do these days, but I am ramping up for a big mileage week in September. The day was very overcast and dreary, not cold though and it was very humid.  It was a sweaty, moist day in the saddle and the breath-ability of the shorts worked in my favor, never feeling swampy. Around the 80 mile mark I typically get achy and start to shift around in the saddle to find a position that does not offend the nethers.  But it occurred to me that I was not doing that. At all. I was just sitting and pedaling, still happy after 5 hours in the saddle. Excellent.

Color me Rosso Corsa.

Note- Riding Gravel was sent the clothing used in the Spring Clothing Round-Up by Castelli, Assos, and Reggie for no charge to test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.


Author: Grannygear

Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.

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