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Castelli's Sorpasso 2 Men's bib tights are said to be the Italian brand's best-sellers, and after my time with them it's not hard to see why. Aside from the price tag and one nuance in the fit, they're almost the perfect cold weather winter bib tights.
From the outset, let me make one thing absolutely clear: Castelli's Sorpasso 2 bib tights are outstanding performers, and worthy of place in any keen winter cyclist's wardrobe.
It starts with a performance-orientated cut that's been engineered to support your muscles, and the distinctive 'under-the-hood' red fabric that reveals itself through the black nylon outer at stretch points. If you didn't know, that quite-common sight at the local cycling club meet point is as a result of the red thermal layer (or, Thermoflex, if you ask Castelli) which provides insulation against cold winter air while allowing excess moisture to escape thanks to its hollow fibre construction.
The outer fabric is more traditional, offering up the wind resistance and support to the muscles, with the two working together to give top performance in frigid weather.
It's a great system, and it's employed over the vast majority of the bib tights for thermal benefit. In low single figures I found myself genuinely warm, and I've no doubt that if (sorry, when) conditions dip below the freezing mark, if it's safe to ride, I'll have no problem using the Sorpasso 2s again. Potential Festive 500 material, for sure.
I'm particularly impressed with the gentle support the legs offer around the glutes, quads and calves, as well as the lumbar support the Italian marque has integrated around the midsection. When you first put the tights on – these are a large, and I tend to fit in between a medium and large for bib tights these days – you think that they might be a bit restrictive, but actually it really does keep your lower back supported and not impede your ride comfort at all.
Now, I'm 188cm tall and relatively slim, and if I'm noticing it then it's likely that anyone with a bit of a gut (whether you're in the process of working it off or not) might feel a little 'pushed in' by it. The front reaches up to belly button height, and if you are carrying a bit of timber then this is naturally going to feel a little tight. If you can try them on before you buy in your local bike shop, then do.
Over longer rides the lumbar support is a real plus. I'm not the fittest I've been on a bike at the moment, so any extra help in getting me to pedal efficiently at the end of a long spin is welcome; not only does it support your lower back, your whole core feels – for want of a softer word – fortified, so your legs are supported to do their best work.
The Sorpasso 2s also use Castelli's excellent Progetto 2 Air chamois. I've used this pad on a number of Castelli products over the past few years, and it's always proven to be brilliant over long rides, with graded pressure zones and a good size without feeling overly bulky. Interestingly, technically speaking this is the old Progetto pad – we know that a new one exists and is making its way into some updated 2019 spring/summer kit – so we'll see if an updated Sorpasso '3' bib tight could be coming in the future. For now, though, The Progetto 2 Air is still a great chamois.
The ankles are finished with low-profile textured grippers embossed onto thin cuffs, which are backed by a zip that reaches up to the calf to help you get in and out of them. They fit snugly when zipped all the way up, and the thinness of the cuff itself means that in conjunction with socks and (likely) shoe covers, you're not adding too much to an already well-covered zone.
The knees feature Castelli's excellent Thermoflex fabric (derived from the same stuff used in their warmer accessories), and it's a natural choice, offering up plenty of movement in the knee zone while keeping things flexible. However, I felt that the performance fit is just a little too tight in this area. A few more millimetres (so not much) of fabric would make all the difference – or perhaps a slightly thinner version of what's already there – but it represents perhaps the only slightly restrictive point in an otherwise very comfortable product.
To that end, the bib section features low-profile lie-flat straps which are great at distributing tension across the shoulders, with a filled-in mesh section over the back. The choice of mesh helps contribute to the low weight overall (265g in the large on test) as well as a good level of breathability in the top section, allowing you to layer up as you like without having to worry about any thermal layer in the bib section too.
There's little in the way of DWR treatment on the main panels, which might be a deal-breaker for some who like to ride in all weathers. Water beads briefly before getting absorbed – it's just enough to deal with a brief shower or drizzle. For all-weather protection, you'll need to spend another £30 on the Nano Flex bib tights if you're set on Castelli.
However, this makes washing the Sorpasso 2 tights easy – no need for technical treatments – and the fleece lining throughout remains very soft to the touch after multiple washes, which means the comfort remains too. For my money, tights like these tend to feel a little softer and mouldable against the skin, and as I prefer to hide away when it's really rainy, these are probably the ones I'd opt for over the Nano Flex models.
While I really like the Sorpasso 2s, it's hard to ignore the fact that you can get very good bib shorts for quite a bit less: the £124.99 Gore Bike Wear Power Thermo bib tights, for example, or the £100 Kalf Club Thermal bib tights. That said, I modelled both of those when they came in and neither had the performance compression feel of the Sorpasso 2s, nor the excellent lumbar support, so while they're competitors in the cold and dry(ish) market, they don't have the same performance feel.
Overall, I'd say even at £160 the Sorpasso 2 tight are a good investment. While they don't feature a lot of protection against rainy weather, they're great performance bib tights that will last the entirety of the cold season to come.
As cold weather performance bib tights, they're hard to fault; only a couple of flaws stop them getting the big 10
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Sorpasso 2 Men's Bibtight
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Castelli says: "The Sorpasso 2 Bibtight is, without a doubt, our most popular winter bibtight. By using a combination of high-tech fabrics and body mapping it offers outstanding comfort and fit over a wide range of temperatures. Warmth with minimal bulk and great breathability.
"The Thermoflex Core2 fabric - an amazing two-layer hollow core fibre is used where you need the most warmth, its red hollow polyester yarn on the inside provides warmth and moisture management - the black nylon outer face offers strength, resistance against abrasion and some wind protection. Where stretch and fit is a priority over out and out warmth (the back of the legs etc) you get Castelli's Thermoflex high stretch fleecy fabric.
"Inside sees Castelli's top tier Progetto X2 Air seat pad for great day-long comfort. This pad features two isolated layers that work in tandem with your body and saddle to eliminate friction while still offering substantial cushioning where its needed most.
"Also hidden inside the bibtight is a 3D lumbar support band that locks in the fit and greatly improves comfort."
The Sorpasso's also feature minimal but supportive lay flat bib straps that don't interfere with your layering options. Lastly, the ankles are secured by YKK Camlock zippers with reflective covers.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Features (via distributor Saddleback):
- Thermoflex Core2 fabric on the front of the thighs and knees for maximum warmth
- Thermoflex fabric wraps the thigh back of leg and shin for warmth with extra flexibility
- 3D support band holds the lower back and lumbar area perfect for long seated climbs
- Progetto X2 Air seat pad for day-long comfort
- Seamless flat fit bib straps with mesh support
- YKK® Camlock® zippered ankles with reflective detailing
- GIRO3 elasticated cuffs
- Castelli shadow wordmark on the thigh in contrasting colour or reflex fabric
- Sizes men's S-3XL
- Weight 301g (claimed)
- Castelli comfort range 5˚-12˚C
Aside from a weak DWR treatment, they're brilliant.
I can't see there being any failures of seam or fabric.
Aside from the slightly over-compressive knees, it's spot on.
Typically Castelli, a large is snug when I normally fit between a medium and large in bottoms. Still, this is as close to true-to-size as I've seen in a Castelli product... unless I'm getting fat, which I'm not ruling out.
In bib tights this isn't necessarily the most important factor, but they feel light to wear and undercut the claimed weight on the scales.
Aside from the back of the knees, they're brilliant. And even the knees aren't a deal-breaker.
You can get very good bib tights for less (see below), but given the overall performance, £160 is an investment worth making in my view.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Really easy, ironically because you don't need to worry about any special DWR magic.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Genuinely brilliantly in everything other than heavy rain.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Performance fit, support, warmth, chamois.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Tight knees, weak DWR treatment – the former might be a personal thing, while the latter will bother you if you don't mind riding in the rain.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
While I really like the Sorpasso 2s, it's hard to ignore the £124.99 Gore Bike Wear Power Thermo bib tights or the bargains that are Kalf Club Thermal bib tights. That said, I modelled both of those when they came in and neither had the performance compression feel of the Sorpasso 2s, nor the excellent lumbar support, so while competitors in the cold and dry(ish) market, they don't have the same performance feel.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Absolutely, yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
With only a couple of minor flaws, the Sorpasso 2s are great winter bib tights as long as you avoid the wettest weather.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding