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No one pair of bib shorts does everything perfectly, being simultaneously the most lightweight, most durable and the most comfortable. At least that’s what we thought. With the Premio Black bibs, Castelli introduces an advanced pair of bibs that seem to improve upon its existing bibs in just about every area.
Woven, not knit
There’s a lot to mention about these bibs, but the secret behind the bulk of its technological advancements lies in the fabric. Instead of knitting the fabric for these bibs, Castelli has developed a proprietary engineered-weave fabric. Woven fabrics have many advantages, including lower weight, higher durability and the ability to fine tune the structure depending on the specific needs of different areas of the shorts—and Castelli takes full advantage.
From the bottom to the top, each section of the shorts is purposefully engineered as needed for different attributes. Rather than rely on silicone leg grippers, a specific weave is used that brings the Lycra fabric to the inner surface, giving it more grip. The thigh region gets a lighter weave, for a tradeoff of cooling power and compression. And the hips get a thicker weave which both helps keep the seat pad in place and increase compression. Because woven material can become translucent when stretched, Castelli includes a light lining layer in the back panel so your friends won’t have to ask you to change bibs next time they’re behind you.
Because of that knit fabric, a similar technique used in making denim, the fabric really does feel more durable in the hand, like running your hand over a denim jacket rather than an athletic one. But that increase in abrasion resistance doesn’t mean it’s rough or uncomfortable. Amazingly, thanks to the inclusion of 35-percent Lycra in the fabric, it provides plenty of stretch and next-to-skin comfort.
Castelli claims performance across a wide range of temperatures because of this woven fabric. The thin fabric means moisture evaporates closer to your skin for warm weather performance. And the tight weave also keeps out wind on cool days. We have experienced the shorts in colder weather and they performed admirably at knocking back the brisk air. And the warm weather performance is surprising for a bib that feels, to use Castelli’s word, “papery.” They wick moisture away well and never make the legs feel warm (although, we haven’t tried them in truly hot weather yet). And in warm weather, since the material is much thinner than other bibs, it holds less moisture and more readily shows salt lines.
Castelli has redesigned these bibs under the guiding premise that less is more. In this case, that means fewer panels of fabric. The woven fabric, tuned for specific parts of the body, allows just three panels to take the place of what could be up to 10 components on other shorts. Fewer parts also means less stitching for more comfort overall.
The elastic bib straps are designed to touch as little of the torso as possible for maximum comfort. Castelli also includes a tab at the front of the straps meant to prevent them from bunching or folding over.
Castelli’s most advanced chamois
The Progetto X² Air Seamless pad is the latest version of a chamois that debuted in 2009, originally developed for the Cervélo TestTeam. But because Castelli has tinkered ceaselessly with the design, not a single material used today is the same as the original.
The latest version is actually made of two parts. The Skin Care Layer goes on top (surprise, surprise, next to your body). Soft and stretchy, this is the material you want next to your skin. The next layer, the Cushioning Layer, uses a mix of soft and medium-density foams as needed for support, along with gel pads. And since this saddle-shaped pad is made with a 3D forming process, it changes density gradually, rather than with pronounced steps from soft to hard.
Having experienced several versions of this chamois, we can say it’s one of our favorites for long distance riding, and it’s noticeably one of the softest next-to-skin options on the market.
Pricing and availability
The Premio Black bibs are available now in both a women’s and men’s version and retail for $260, placing them squarely in the same price bracket as premium bibs from other brands, but still priced below the most expensive options out there.