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The Velocissimo IV bibshorts from Italian clothing specialist Castelli are sublime, especially thanks to that KISS Air pad. You seem to float over the saddle, and the whole shorts fit beautifully. Comfort is key and these have it by the chamois load.
Velocissimo is Italian for very fast but these aren't Castelli's high-performance shorts, they are focused on comfort – 'It'll just seem like you get there faster,' Castelli reckons. They are certainly very, very comfortable.
The heart of any bib shorts is the pad; get that wrong and it doesn't matter how good everything else is, they'll spend more time in your wardrobe than on your saddle. This KISS Air pad is one of the most comfortable I've worn, and I spent a lot of time in these shorts while riding the ultra-stiff J.Guillem Orient (review to come).
When you look at it there isn't a whole lot going on. There aren't grooves and channels running between various density pads, it's just a saddle shaped piece of foam with dimples in it.
For me at least, the foam is the perfect balance of thickness and firmness, so as you move around during the pedalling stroke it compresses without ever feeling bulky or bunching up. It's like a little shock-absorbing cushion that takes out a lot of the vibration that the bike can't handle.
Whether you are sat a little more upright and relaxed for a long day on the road, or hunched right over on the nose of the saddle for an eyeballs-out blast, the pad just seems to work.
A simple flatlocked seam around the outside to keep it attached doesn't irritate at all; you don't even know it is there.
As for the rest of the shorts, the material has a high level of stretch to it which means they can feel quite restrictive when you put them on, especially around the thighs, but this soon passes once you are on the bike and moving.
On the outer thigh there is another section of material that runs vertically and is more taut than the rest, which makes sure the legs stay put and means Castelli has only had to put vertical thin strips of silicone at the bottom of the legs rather than a thick gripper. This is great for comfort.
Castelli bib shorts have always had quite a low front compared with a lot of brands where the material comes higher up over the stomach. I'm not a massive fan of the lower design as I find it less supportive when in the saddle. I'm not whippet-thin with a single digit body fat percentage, though, so it could be that. (It's not me in the photos.)
For the bib section Castelli uses a mesh material to keep things lightweight and you cooler. They are comfortable as they pass over the shoulders and don't feel restrictive in any way, plus they are wide enough to avoid any pressure points.
When it comes to sizing Castelli is consistent... consistently small like a lot of Italian brands, so it's always worth going up a size to get a good fit in my experience compared to most others.
Looking back through the list of bib shorts we've tested recently suggests that £100 for a pair isn't that excessive. Sure, we've had plenty under that, from the likes of dhb and Lusso that have scored very well, so more cash doesn't necessarily mean a better product.
But these Castellis are worth the money in my opinion, as the comfort levels are so impressive that you'd be likely to use them a lot. Looking at the quality of the build, they are going to stand the test of time too.
The recently reviewed MAAP Team Bibshorts look to be very similar to the Velocissimos in terms of performance and comfort but are nearly £75 more expensive.
Overall, the Castellis are right up there in the comfort stakes and will provide many fast and luxurious miles.
High-performance bib shorts with a very comfortable pad for long rides or quick blasts
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Velocissimo IV Bibshort
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Castelli says, "Velocissimo is Italian for fast, very fast. But this short is focused on comfort, so it'll just seem like you get there faster. We've given it a new anatomical shape that moves stitching away from areas that can annoy you, and we've even managed to completely eliminate the leg-ending elastic band by borrowing technology we developed for the Premio short. The KISS Air seat pad is the choice of some of the Team Sky riders, so you know it'll stand up to your 200km rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Anatomically constructed for exceptional fit and comfort in Pro Dry Soft fabric
New Doppio waistband for extra stretch around the stomach area
KISS Air seat pad for all-day comfort
Raw-cut leg ending with silicone vertical gripper keeps short leg in place without pressure
Reflective heat-transfer viz strips for visibility
I find I need to size up in Castelli clothing for a good fit, even compared to what the sizing chart says.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They've survived plenty of washes and a cool cycle always brings them up clean.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Designed for comfort, they deliver comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The KISS Air pad is great.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Low front panel.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The price isn't excessive for the quality and the comfort is absolutely brilliant from the pad and the fabric.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is:
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
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!