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Verdict: 
A good pair of endurance bib shorts, slightly lacking in stretch but comfortable and breathable
Weight: 
170g

The Castelli Tabula Rasa Bib Shorts are well made, breathable and comfortable, and a good option for all-day riding, although the bold design won't be for everyone.

  • Pros: Comfortable, breathable
  • Cons: Straps could be stretchier, design won't appeal to all

The Tabula Rasa are mid-range bib shorts for Castelli. One of their highlights is that the entire shorts fabric can be printed on, but this hasn't been done at the expense of some of the other key features. Their unique design won't necessarily be to all tastes, with bold orange stripes across the shorts on top of a dark teal colour, but they put in a good performance – particularly over long distances.

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As with all bib shorts, one of the most important elements is the seat pad. For the Tabula Rasa, Castelli has used its Kiss Air2 pad, not the Progetto X2 Air that you find in its top-of-the-range models but still an impressive pad. It has variable foam densities which help you stay comfortable in a number of positions and it keeps you well supported throughout long rides. I found that the shorts performed well even after several hours in the saddle.

Castelli Tabula Rasa Bibshort - chamois.jpg

Breathability is good for this price range, although not quite up there with some of the more expensive options. I'd say they're a good option for spring rides and cooler summer days, offering a little more warmth when starting out on a cold morning but not letting you overheat when temperatures begin to climb.

Castelli Tabula Rasa Bibshort - front full.jpg

The ProFit Lycra used throughout the legs allows for a decent amount of movement, although they have less stretch than others I've used, so don't offer quite as much freedom. Castelli has used five panels on the shorts, one large on each side wrapping around the majority of the leg, two wrapping around the legs at the hem, one across the seat pad of the shorts and one large panel running up the back of the legs and elongating up the back. These are held together with strong stitching and flatlock seams on the legs to maintain comfort.

Castelli Tabula Rasa Bibshort - cuffs.jpg

Up top, Castelli has included meshed straps with a hem to stop twisting. These work well for breathability as the mesh allows heat to move away from the body quickly. However, the fabric used doesn't have as much stretch as some, so for those with long bodies (like myself) the straps could be a little tight. If possible, try before you buy.

Castelli Tabula Rasa Bibshort - strap.jpg

An RRP of £110 isn't cheap, but isn't astronomical compared to what you can pay for top spec bib shorts. They are comparable to the Nalini AHS Marmotte bib shorts that I tested last year, which come in at the same price. The Castellis don't have the same amount of stretch, but I'd say they just edge it when it comes to the pad.

Castelli Tabula Rasa Bibshort - rear full.jpg

Their biggest rivals are probably the Rapha Men's Core Bib Shorts, with the current offering coming in at £85 (although they were £100 when we reviewed them a few years ago). The Tabula Rasas offer a more exciting design, although Rapha's offerings pip them on price.

> Buyer's Guide: 22 of the best cycling bib shorts

Overall, I found the Tabula Rasa bib shorts to be comfortable on long rides and breathable – a good choice for endurance events. I also liked the interesting design that really caught the eye. However, they could do with a bit more stretch in the straps for those of us with longer bodies.

Verdict

A good pair of endurance bib shorts, slightly lacking in stretch but comfortable and breathable

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Castelli Tabula Rasa Bib Shorts

Size tested: Large

Tell us what the product is for

Castelli says, "With the Tabula Rasa bibshort, Castelli set out to create a performance short that allows for all-over printing for maximum creativity in the graphic design. It had to be a no-compromise short, one that you would take for our longest rides. It does feature a durable dyed nylon insert for the saddle contact areas but the rest of the short is all printable, but all performance as well."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Castelli lists:

KISS Air2 seat pad for all-day comfort

ProFit Lycra® fabric offers maximum flexibility in graphic designs

Printable bib straps and back

Lie flat leg band

18°-30°C / 65°-86°F

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Well made with strong stitching used throughout.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Performed well throughout the review and particularly good for longer rides.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

Relatively thick material combined with strong stitching means they are likely to last.

Rate the product for fit:
 
6/10

Around the legs and crotch they fitted well, though they could do with a little more stretch in the straps.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
6/10

Again, generally size up fine but could do with a little more stretch in the straps – especially for those with longer bodies.

Rate the product for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
8/10

Very comfortable on longer rides thanks to a well-made pad.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Very easy – with brightly coloured printed fabrics there is always a risk of fading or running, but nothing of the sort with these.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Performed well, offering comfort and breathability over long rides, and I like the head-turning design.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The pad is great over long distances.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The straps could do with a bit more stretch.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

They are comparable to the Nalini AHS Marmotte bib shorts that I tested last year, which come in at the same price. The Castellis don't have the same amount of stretch, but just edge it when it comes to the pad. Their biggest rivals are probably the Rapha Men's Core Bib Shorts, with the current offering coming in at £85 (although they were £100 when we reviewed them a few years ago). These shorts offer a more exciting design, although Rapha's offering pip them on price.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes – though I might size up for the straps.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

The shorts offer a lot of comfort and breathability plus they have a head-turning design. Overall they're a decent pair of endurance shorts with a great pad, and if they had a bit more stretch in the straps I'd give them an 8.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Cinelli Gazzetta  My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo

I've been riding for: Under 5 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 spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc. 

When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.