Brilliant pad and a classy racing cut but a cold tummy and wear issues could be a deal breaker

The Castelli Sorpasso Wind bib tights provide plenty of warmth even when the temperature drops below freezing, and the type of comfort you'd expect from tights costing this much but there are a few niggles.

The addition of Windstopper fabric to the knees and thighs means that Castelli claim their recommended minimum riding temperature of a chilly -4°C, 4 degrees lower than the standard Sorpassos. The X-Fast 2 material is a kind of fleece lined softshell that not only keeps the chilling wind out but is also surprisingly breathable. The softshell outer holds the worst of road spray and drizzle at bay making the Sorpassos pretty versatile in terms of weather conditions.

After plenty of use in all sorts of weather conditions I'd say that -4°C minimum riding temperature from Castelli is pretty bang on. At -6°C one morning I did struggle to get my thighs to warm up but anything above that they were toasty warm. You can feel the difference that Windstopper fabric is making to the tops of your legs when pushing into an icy headwind.

For the back, straps and lower legs of the bibs its Thermoflex material, a medium density lycra with the thicker Thermoflex Core Due above the waist taking the brunt of the wind from chilling your stomach. Or it would if the cut were a bit higher. Castelli have mirrored the shape of their summer shorts with a low front which sits around belly button height. That isn't ideal on cold days as you can actually feel your stomach getting cold when things drop below freezing.

Pad wise it's the same Progetto X2 Air found in the Thermosuit and the standard Sorpassos, both of which we've tested in the past. The X2 Air has two parts namely the multi-density padding and then a soft layer next to the skin, these aren't attached though which allows your skin to remain in position with the surface and the movement happens between the layers, that's what cuts down on the irritation then. After a short bedding in process of say three to four hours of riding the pad becomes very comfortable and riding a 200km audax saw me sat for seven and a half hours on a brand new saddle with no feeling of discomfort at all during the ride.

The overall cut is racy, with makes them being a bit of a struggle to put on as you have to feed each bit up your legs rather than just pulling them up by the bibstraps. Once on though they do fit well without the slightest hint of any rucking of the material behind the knees.

At the bottom are silicone grippers which are reflective and are positioned on the outside to grip your overshoes to form a water seal and to stop the tights riding up; not that I had any issues as the small zips worked fine.

Up top things aren't quite as good or comfortable. I've mentioned the low cut front but I also find the straps annoying. 'Giro++ seamless straps' Castelli call them and they're just basically strips of Lycra a couple of inches wide. The trouble is they twist and roll as you put them on and due to the Sorpasso's racing cut you have to stretch them taught to lift them to lay them flat. A minor irritation I know, but one I could have done without. Once sorted though they are comfortable even they do leave quite visible red pressure marks on your skin after a 2-3 hour ride.

Another downer is how much the Sorpasso Winds have worn in the tight/saddle interface area. Within twenty hours of ride time the material has bobbled into two large clumps either side of where the saddle edge would be. While the lighter, more technical fabrics aren't expected to be as robust as some cheaper bibs I'd expect to see a lot more use before this kind of wear and tear shows.

On the whole I find the Sorpassos a bit of a mixed bag. The pad comfort, looks and cold weather performance are worth the £160 rrp but the irritating straps and low cut front would put me off paying the full asking price. The level of wear and tear is pretty shocking as well although it hasn't got any worse so I'll keep an eye on that over the coming months.


Brilliant pad and a classy racing cut but a cold tummy and wear issues could be a deal breaker.

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Castelli Sorpasso Wind bib tights

Size tested: medium

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 that when it's just too cold to use the regular Sorpassos then its time for the Sorpasso Wind tights. you should get down to -4 degrees thanks to the Windstopper panels on the thighs and knees.

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

The X-Fast 2 Windstopper material is a construction of softshell membrane and fleece material to create a balance of warmth and breathabilty.

Also the X2 Air pad has a kind of floating design between its layers meaning less irritation.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:

Good at the leg end but I'm not a fan of that low front on a winter bit of kit.

Rate the product for durability:

Early signs of wear that seems to have not got any worse, we'll keep you posted though.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
Rate the product for value:

The wear issues means I'm being a bit conservative here.

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

In the saddle they are great as long as it isn't too cold around the stomach region. Performance is good but its the small niggles that would annoy me if I splashed out 160 quid on these. I'd want them to be pretty exceptional.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The pad is absolutely great.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The straps and low front.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, on the whole.

Would you consider buying the product? No.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd recommend they try before the buy.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 35  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: Whatever needs testing or Genesis Flyer, fixed of course!  My best bike is: Kinesis T2 with full Centaur Red

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

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,


Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.


monty dog [466 posts] 5 years ago

IME 99% of excessive wear to tights/shorts is due to the saddle or seatpack, particularly velcro or a poorly finished saddle seam - so why blame the tights?
As for the low front - yes please for those comfort stops on long rides.
I'm on my 4th winter with an original pair of Sorpassos - can't fault them.

stuke [334 posts] 5 years ago
monty dog wrote:

IME 99% of excessive wear to tights/shorts is due to the saddle or seatpack, particularly velcro or a poorly finished saddle seam - so why blame the tights?
As for the low front - yes please for those comfort stops on long rides.
I'm on my 4th winter with an original pair of Sorpassos - can't fault them.

I can guarantee you the wear had nothing to do with the saddles. I've been testing two other pairs of bibs on exactly the same bikes as these and they didn't show anywhere near the levels of wear as the Sorpasso's.

Colin Peyresourde [1839 posts] 5 years ago

Not had any problems with mine. A fine pair of winter tights.

flanners [1 post] 5 years ago

The low front is useful for nature breaks.

movingtarget [144 posts] 5 years ago

Personally I would think that keeping your abdominal area warm would fall under the purview of a jacket +/- base layer. I have a really warm set of thermo roubaix dream bib tights with windproof panels by another company (Capo Padrone bib tights) that go up to the lower ribcage and comes with a zipper along the abdominal panel to facilitate getting them on/off. Capo rates them at -4 to 7C. I find that the abdominal panel makes them so warm that I can only wear them if it's <4C making them somewhat less versatile in regards to temperature ranges. I end up wearing the bib knickers in the same style 10X as often because the tights version is almost too warm so the Sorpasso arrangement seems more appealing to me. Strange about the seat wear, I've never had that problem with any brand of shorts/tights although I must admit my bottoms tend to be Capo, Campagnolo, or Zoot (I like Castelli mainly for their jerseys and jackets).

5th [47 posts] 5 years ago

I'd suggest that at 180cm and 76cm you should maybe have gone up a size to alleviate the pressure marks from the bib straps. I'm 183cm / 73kg and take XL Castelli shorts and bibs! I'll second the low front for comfort breaks point too. No help on the bobbling front though - are you running a particularly grippy saddle?

11speedaddict [75 posts] 5 years ago

I have 3 pairs of these that I rotate . I commute 6 days and 100 mile club ride on sundays.
No wear at all on any of mine. the oldest pair is 18 months old.
Good insulation down to 0c degrees
Highly recommended apart from sizing issue. I am usually a small but mine are a medium and they are a bit short in the leg and I am 5' 7" 65 kg (170cm)

offshore_dave [65 posts] 5 years ago

I've recently bought a pair and worn them about a dozen times in temperatures no higher than 5 degrees and in cold rain.

They are an excellent pair of tights but I must agree about the cold stomach complaint.

I have a simple remedy in that I have inserted a small section of old fleece material across my tum which keeps me warm and is easily removed if necessary.

In the past I have also used a small section of waterproof membrane, as used by builders, to keep the cold and wet off my stomach.

Metjas [362 posts] 5 years ago
5th wrote:

I'd suggest that at 180cm and 76cm you should maybe have gone up a size to alleviate the pressure marks from the bib straps. I'm 183cm / 73kg and take XL Castelli shorts and bibs!

Castelli sizing he! I'm 182 cm and 70 kg and the Sorpasso medium has been giving me joy over the past 18 months, well summer excluded that is. I admit I like a snug fit.

Castelli Cafe [5 posts] 5 years ago

Lovely to see the positive comments,
not sure what caused your wear but we can't say we have had any negative wear comments which suggests it might be saddle/conditions/care issue on your side, but more than happy to investigate for you?
The bib-straps do roll when putting them on but hooking your thumbs under the fabric and sliding up alleviate this instantly and you are left with supportive minimal straps with no seams.
The low cut is designed for comfort and comfort breaks you can wear a Castelli wind base layer under your jacket or jersey to block any coolness if required, but as others have stated its a bib tight not a unitard there are options in Castelli's range to protect your belly if required but if the tights where high cut you would have no alternative option to cool the area? CC