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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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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.
Good at the leg end but I'm not a fan of that low front on a winter bit of kit.
Early signs of wear that seems to have not got any worse, we'll keep you posted though.
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.
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,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!