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The Castelli Premio Bibshort are a pair of well made, high quality bib shorts designed for long hours in the saddle.
Castelli is keen to emphasise that these shorts are not for racing, they're for the hard miles you put in before you join the peloton. One of the key elements it mentions is that rather than minimalism, it has added more to make these shorts more suitable for long rides. So, how do they shape up?
Although Castelli claims that these are less minimalist than other shorts in its collection, the design itself is certainly understated, with the plain black Lycra only broken by two Castelli logos on the back of each leg, and an almost imperceptible shadow logo running down the left leg. It creates a clean look, without even a bottom hem to destroy the clean lines.
They are a really good looking pair of bib shorts, and as somebody who isn't too comfortable with looking like a billboard when riding, I think they look great.
To go along with these looks, the Premios are also very comfortable to wear on longer rides. This is thanks to a lack of seams, compression material used not only on the leg but also to give lower back support, and also the Progetto X2 seat pad, a well tested pad used in many Castelli shorts.
One of the key elements of the shorts according to Steve Smith, Castelli's brand manager, was 'to create shorts that wearers would be able to forget they had on for logging long hours on the road free of clothing-related distractions'. Although this sounds like an anxiety dream, where you think you're in an exam with no shorts on, it is actually a fairly good description of how these feel.
The elongated anti-slip area towards the knee is longer than typical, meaning you don't have a thin band of skin taking all the pressure and sometimes causing irritation. This, combined with the slight compression in the fabric, means that over long hours they are remarkably comfortable. Add this to the ever-reliable Progetto X2 on the saddle, and they are great over long distances. The material also offers a decent amount of stretch and good freedom of movement.
Up top the straps continue with Castelli's long-running lack of seams, the idea being that there is less chance of them causing discomfort on longer rides. It makes it a little more work putting them on, as they are more likely to twist, but once on I had no real issues at all. There is also a slight compression on the lower back area – this is probably the lumbar support Castelli refers to as "helping to support your back muscles as you practice your seated climbing", and you certainly feel more supported in that area than with other shorts I've tried.
Although Castelli claims the shorts come up 'a bit higher in front to hold everything in', I found they were actually quite a bit lower than most.
Breathability is pretty good, with the material wicking sweat away from the legs quickly and the large mesh area on the back helping to both improve ventilation and wicking. Castelli gives them a breathability rating of 3/5 which seems about right. The material isn't exactly lightweight, but at the same time you aren't going to boil when wearing them.
The RRP of £175 is about where I would expect a set a bib shorts with this kind of technology to sit, especially when you consider that they carry the Rosso Corsa label (Castelli's top of the line kit – "only applied to the highest-level products we make," it says).
All in, I really liked these shorts. They have a load of tech that helps with longer rides, they look really clean and simple, plus the compression areas are useful and help with support on longer rides or particular efforts. My job is to test kit and be critical of claims, but with these I really struggled to find fault; perhaps the front could be a little higher, but aside from that there isn't a huge amount not to like.
Excellent bib shorts that are comfortable over even the longest distances
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Premio Bibshort
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Castelli says: 'With the Premio Bibshort we simply set out to design the most comfortable short we could make for your longest ride. The short feels like a second skin, comfortably snug around the legs, hips and buttocks.'
I'd say this is an accurate description.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Castelli lists these features:
Forza fabric with 38% Lycra® content for perfect fit
3D mesh breathable lumbar support band
Reduced seaming for more comfort
Raw-edge leg ending with vertical silicone grippers
Bonded flat ergonomic bib straps for extra comfort
Embossed Castelli shadow wordmark
Progetto X2 Air seat pad
Really well made, with strong stitching throughout, seams in the right places, and compression fabric that supports nicely.
Performed really well throughout the review, whether it was on an all-day ride or commute.
Well made, decent stretchy fabric, and few elements to peel and make the shorts look worn; they are likely to last a long time.
No bagginess anywhere but not restrictive at all, exactly what you want from a pair of bib shorts.
Italian size large fitted exactly as I expected, having worn various Castelli items over the years.
The road.cc Scales of Truth measured them at 196g, less than Castelli claims; not exactly the most lightweight, but given the tech used it's perfectly acceptable.
Really comfortable shorts even after several hours in the saddle.
About where I would expect a pair of high-end shorts to be; worth the investment.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, I've put them through five or six washes at 30 without any change to the fit or looks.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed really well, providing support and comfort on all rides, even when four hours into a long one.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The design is great, really minimalist and sleek, plus the vertical grippers keep everything in place without causing hot spots.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Perhaps the front could be higher, but not much to dislike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Excellent bib shorts that were comfortable in every situation I tried them, from long rides to shorter rough stuff. Good breathability and freedom of movement.
About the tester
I usually ride: Mercian King of Mercia or Cinelli Gazzetta My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.