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Updated: Castelli Sorpasso Bibtights



Top-quality bib tights with tons of comfort. Pricey, but the seat pad is a bit special

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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We first tested these tights a year ago - in November 2010 - so we thought we'd update our review to cover how we've got on with using them since then. Well I say "we", what I mean is "I"… you can take team bonding too far y'know. The price for this winter, 2011-12, remains the same at £160.

These bib tights are from Castelli’s Rosso Corsa line, which means that they’re a top-of-the-range option from the Italian clothing specialists.

What makes them so special? For a start, the seatpad is excellent. Castelli’s Progetto X2 design comes in two separate parts. There’s a soft and stretchy single-thickness layer next to your skin that wicks sweat away and dries out really fast. Then, underneath that, there’s the meat of the padding. Different areas are different depths up to a combined maximum of 12mm beneath your perineum and sit bones.

The two layers can move independently – they’re not stitched together, a bit like you find in double-layered running socks – so the fabric next to your skin doesn’t rub as you move about, but stays put. The bottom line (ahem!) is that we stayed really comfortable even on rides of 100 miles and more. We like the design a lot.

The tights themselves are made from two different types of fabric: Thermoflex, which is essentially a soft and fleecy roubaix fabric, and Thermoflex Core Due, which has a red underside that shows through slightly when it’s stretched. This is used for various panels including the seating area and the knees, and Castelli reckon it provides more insulation and wicking than traditional fabrics thanks to a hollow core polyester inner layer that traps warm air and shifts moisture. It’s also supposed to feel dry when wet and be much lighter than normal too.

Interesting claims – and ones that made us skeptical, to say the least. Come on, the microscope isn’t powerful enough to see whether fabric fibres are hollow like macaroni – Castelli could tell us anything. So we did our own not-very-scientific testing involving a five-mile loop, a watering can, and a couple of unsuspecting volunteers… Actually Castelli aren't the only manufacturer to use hollow fibre polyester - Craft use something similar for their cold-weather base layers. Oh, and polar bear fur is hollow too to do just the same job (oh yes, we're full of irrelevant interesting information today).

Anyway back to our test, there's not a vast difference between the two fabrics when they're dry, although the Thermoflex Core Due does feel a touch warmer. Once we’d made them damp, though, the Thermoflex Core Due was much better, feeling significantly warmer than the other sections and drying faster. The tights as a whole offer a good level of insulation. You might want windproofing when the temperature gets really cold, but these will see you well into single figures centigrade. 

Plus, these are the lightest brush-backed bib tights I have. It's not that I'm bothered either way about a little bit of weight, it's the fact that these are so easy to move in for the level of warmth they offer that makes the difference.

The seams in the lowers aren’t flat-stitched but the panels are arranged so that there’s no rubbing around the knees where any awkward ridges can be a pain – a single, unobtrusive seam runs along the side and it's no trouble at all. Rattle-free ankle zippers make it easy to get them on and off while reflective piping down there gives you extra visibility where it’s most noticeable (unless it's covered up by your overshoes).

Speaking of overshoes, the silicone rubber on the outside of the ankle cuff is an interesting feature too. Most manufacturers put it on the inside but positioned externally it can grab hold of the overshoes that you’ll probably be wearing and stop the legs riding up. It works well.

The uppers are unusual in that the straps are made from a stretchy single-layer band. Castelli call it their Giro++ fabric and, along with a mesh back panel, it holds them in place comfortably. In fact, these are really comfortable tights all round. They feel great in use – no worries at all on that score.

Last year I wondered whether the logos on the legs would soon start to crack and look tired. Much use later, they're still looking good; not absolutely brand new but they're not peeling at the corners or anything like that.

In fact, the tights as a whole are lasting well. There's the tiniest amount of wear on one side of the seat and there's an equally small area of wear at the front where it looks like a zip or some Velcro has caught a couple of threads. That's pretty normal stuff and you have to look really close to spot either. Everything else is perfect: the stitching, the seat pad, the zips and so on.

Are these worth £160, though? You could get three pairs of budget padded tights for this kind of money, so if you’re after a bargain you’re going to want to look elsewhere. That said, if these continue to last as well as they have so far, they're not going to need replacing for ages, so you'll soon start to recoup some of the initial outlay. The main reason you’d buy these is because they’re premium quality with some excellent design features. They’ve become my bib tights of choice for days when I don’t need windproofing.


Top-quality bib tights with tons of comfort. Pricey, but the seat pad is a bit special

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Make and model: Castelli Sorpasso Bibtights

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 say, "We’ve put all our best technologies into this exceptional tight. Progetto X2 seat pad, Giro++ straps, and a mix of fabrics, including our Thermoflex Core Due. By applying the technical advancement of hollow-core fibers, we’ve made these tights not only lighter than your normal tights but also warmer—and they keep you drier. Now you’re ready to put in those long base rides all winter long."

See the body of our review for comments on all of those features.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
Rate the product for value:

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, even though they're pricey

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 190cm  Weight: 74kg

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon


Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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