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Castelli Body Paint bib short



Technically brilliant bib shorts with an eye-watering price tag… although you could pay more

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Thor Hushovd and co on the Garmin-Cervlo team are currently wearing Castelli's Body Paint bib shorts in the Tour de France, so I was expecting them to be nothing short of superb on test. And they are. These Body Paint shorts really do deliver, in all aspects of their design and function. Enough to justify that eye-watering price tag? Well...

Let's look at the design brief for these shorts. Castelli's grand plan was to make a short that 'practically disappears' when worn. So, everything in the Body Paint short is designed to be as unintrusive as possible. The minimum number of seams, the simplest and most functional construction. To that end, the short part of the Body Paint bibs is a single piece of lycra, with only the bare minimum number of seams necessary to make the shape. The grippers in the legs are woven into the lycra, and the bibs are lycra straps too, a single piece with no seams.

Inside the Body Paints you'll find Castelli's Progetto X2 seatpad. This is a two-layer pad with a stretchy cover and padding layer beneath. The two sections are free to move over one another so nothing rubs; it's the same basic theory as those two-layer walking socks you get.

Put this all together and what do you get? £180 worth of bib shorts is what. How much? You could buy a bike for that, etc and so on. Let's gloss over that for a sec and get back to whether they're any good. Are they any good? Yes, they're quite brilliant. They really are. They're the best shorts I've yet tried, I think.

I've done the Fred Whitton in them, in the pouring rain. I've done a 16-hour, 350km all-dayer in them, and many other shorter rides. And they're just great. They're barely there, they never need to be adjusted, the pad is fantastic and the two-layer system works like a dream. It's hard to see how they could be better, really. You simply don't ever think about them when you're riding, which is exactly what you want.

So to value. Are they worth the money? As with anything top-end, it's the law of diminishing returns. Are they twice as good as the best £90 shorts you can buy? No. But they are among the best shorts you can buy. To be honest If you're paying the best part of two hundred quid for some shorts you'd expect nothing less than the best, and you won't be disappointed here.

Say you've spent three grand on a road bike and another thousand quid on a trip to the Marmotte or the Étape: do you want your ride to end in tears just because your cheap shorts have rubbed you raw? And it has to be said in comparison to Assos bibs these are mid-range in terms of price -the Assos FI.13 S5 bibs will set you back £225.99. So it's horses for courses, there's always a place for top-end kit and the technology trickle down might mean we can all have a pair for a hundred quid in a couple of years, who knows. What I do know is that Castelli aren't getting them back. Not that they'd want them now, mind.


Technically brilliant bib shorts with an eye-watering price tag… although you could pay more

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Make and model: Castelli Body Paint bib short

Size tested: XL

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?

Innovation sometimes means looking at something totally differently. When we started working on Body Paint in January 2006, we set out to build a short with all the components integrated into a product that is clean and simple, with the goal to make it practically disappear. Now, after 3.5 years of development, we've had to revolutionize fabric construction, completely rethink patterns and fit, and reengineer details like the bib straps and the logo applications. Our testers have universally been stunned. They describe it in just one word: 'wow!'

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

* The short portion is made with a single piece of engineered Power Stretch Lycra designed to support muscle function and that painted-on look.

* Seamless straps using Giro++ elastic for lay-flat comfort.

* Leg grippers are knitted into the leg fabric. No stitching, no binding.

* Reflective serigraph print provides 360 reflectivity.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Beautifully made with excellent attention to detail

Rate the product for performance:

Hard to see how they could be better

Rate the product for durability:

No problems during testing, the thin lycra is more hardy than it looks

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

You'll barely know you have them on

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

As good as any shorts I've tried

Rate the product for value:

Difficult call - they're hugely expensive and really, really good. You get what you pay for.

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

As well as any short I've tried

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product


Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

How much?

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? I wouldn't have before the review, I would now

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, the well-heeled ones anyway

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 38  Height: 190cm  Weight: 98kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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clarinet5001 | 7 years ago

I know it's old stuff by now, but are those worn-through ones the 2.0? I bought one pair of 2.0 and saw signs of wear after just one ride, never used them again. I'd sell them for 40 quid happily. But I have three pairs of the first version and love them, paid 120 for each. 

Matt_S | 12 years ago

That looks a really odd place to wear like that. Are they maybe too big for you, and the pad rides around to the front? It looks like your sit bones wore through off the back of the pad.

dullard | 12 years ago

I have a pair and agree with most who have above who rate them as the best they've ridden (incl Rapha, Assos, etc). Pad is second to none, and comfort is supreme. Durability is a how long is a piece of string question, I wouldn't expect them to last for all time. What I do want is a pair that work and feel absolutely top notch when I'm wearing them.

On the where are they made question, mine are from Croatia (where I think much of the Castelli kit is produced). And a damn fine product they make, too.

@swldxer - sure you haven't got an infestation of Body Paint Lycra loving moths...?  4

dave atkinson | 12 years ago

That's interesting swldxer - i'll check mine to see if there's any signs of wear at the same points

swldxer | 12 years ago

You can see two points where they wore through here.
Just below the pad stitching.

I still have 5 other pairs of Castelli shorts and none has worn through like these.

Fat_Birds | 12 years ago

The durability of these shorts is not their best value, much better if we talk about lightness or comfort.

I have ridden them more than 2500kms, and don´t give them this rating. Sorry!

For this price I expect something more.  16

Cervelo12 | 12 years ago

Once again people on these comment's page are so quick to be negative, i've used these shorts and they are very good and I would pay for another pair any day. I think the review is a fair review and the rating is spot on.

dave atkinson | 12 years ago

What about the durability?

Done maybe 1,000km in them now and they're good as new, see comments above for a chap that wore through his though.


9/10 in the test, and no words about the big logos on the sides? Who rates the esthetics?

They're available in a number of designs, including a less logo-y one and garmin team issue which is predominantly black with an argyle highlight on one leg. You can have Thor-style white world champ ones too, if you're game. Like Tony said, aesthetics are a personal thing and they don't affect the performance.


Where are they made?? For sure not in Italy

I'm not sure what your point is here? If it's that they're an inferior product simply because they're made in the Far East, then I don't think that's a particularly strong point. Truth be told I don't know where they're put together, because it wasn't relevant for the purposes of the review. If they're good, they're good; it doesn't much matter what continent the sewing machine was on. We get that with Rapha gear, a lot. But hey, I'll find out and comment on here. The pad's Italian, if that helps.

Tony Farrelly | 12 years ago

All we can do Fat–Birds is test the shorts we've got - Dave's had no problems with durability and he's been putting serious miles in to them for a good few months including the Fred Whitton and his 350km day ride last month.

As for being dazzled or something by the history of the brand I can assure you we don't give a stuff about brand history when we are testing a product – we might refer to it if it is something that is likely to influence some people's purchasing decision, but when it comes down to actual performance - it doesn't influence us. They're a pair of shorts. That's it. We'll give them a fair review whoever they are made by.

They are expensive, but then again as we point out in the review you can also pay a lot more - and has been mentioned above if you shop around you can find them for a lot less than list too.

As for aesthetics? Well, they are a matter of personal taste - if you don't like the Castelli logo up the side (it'd put me off) but it doesn't bother Dave - well don't buy 'em then. People can make their own minds up about that by looking at the pics - doesn't really make any difference to how they perform as a pair of shorts though does it? Of course the aesthetics of a bit of cycling gear are going to matter to the potential purchaser but how much is going to be again a personal choice, especially in those bits of kit where the technical attributes are going to be more to the fore than what they look like… on some kit though the aesthetics are going to be more important - that Milltag Tommy jersey for instance, so we will comment on them there, but we don't award a mark cos in the end if you don't like the look of the jersey you're simpley not going to buy it.

Fat_Birds | 12 years ago

9/10 in the test, and no words about the big logos on the sides? Who rates the esthetics?

What about the durability?

You can say 180 pounds is ok and rate them 7/10 for its value, but definetively you are overating it because of the history of the brand!

Where are they made?? For sure not in Italy.


swldxer | 12 years ago

I bought a pair of these in March last year, rode in them for around 9 months and the seat wore though, which showed my bum through several small holes. Really disappointed as they were great to wear.

So such problems with their Free or Velocissimo shorts.

gazzaputt | 12 years ago

Guys a quick Google search will show these shorts can be purchased at around £130 mark.

Martin they really aren't 'only a pair of cycling shorts'.

As reviewed they the best you can buy. All day comfort is 2nd to none. Compared to any other shorts I have owned they stand head and shoulders above.

If the £ are a concern then try Castelli Free Aero as they have the same pad and the lycra is just as good.

martin | 12 years ago

Ridiculous price they are only a pair of cycling shorts

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