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The Premio Black Women's Bib Shorts are Castelli's new top-end bibs, and their impressive attention to detail really makes the difference. The woven fabric is very thin and breathable yet robust, while tabs on the straps guarantee they lay comfortably flat the whole ride. Yes, they're expensive, but also an absolute delight to wear for all-out blasts and long rides alike.
I was a bit shocked when I first picked these shorts out of the box – they look tiny. I was really worried I'd ordered the wrong size. But having pulled them on, I was pleasantly surprised. There's an impressive amount of stretch, and the fabric reassuringly hugs your legs and hips with supportive compression – just the right amount.
The Premio Blacks are made from what Castelli calls a 'state-of-the-art engineered weave fabric'. It's said to be a thinner, denser and more durable fabric (than regular short fabrics, presumably) and extremely abrasion-resistant.
To aid comfort, Castelli use just three panels here, with a single seam that connects a large panel around each thigh. Round the back there's a smaller panel, and inside it is a lining to prevent transparency issues. The two-layer solution works, and doesn't feel bulky doing it, though it can create a little heat build up.
The fabric is thicker around the hips, and also slightly more compressive, to keep the pad in place. It doesn't feel thicker, but everything is held perfectly in position, and it doesn't feel too tight either.
Most brands claim a second-skin effect, but these truly do provide a close, smooth feel that's almost invisibly comfortable.
Breathability is impressive, as is the fast-drying nature of this fabric. Not only can it deal with the heat of sweatfest interval sessions, the tight weave also effectively blocks out the wind, while water beads brilliantly.
There's no bulk to the material at all, so it doesn't hold water even in prolonged rain. Basically, these cope with changeable summer conditions incredibly well.
Down at the raw cut leg ends, there's 6cm of grip from a special weave that brings the Lycra, Castelli says, to the inner surface. There's no leg band – it's just a smooth transition from the single panel on each thigh.
This is an incredibly low-profile solution that doesn't squeeze in the slightest, yet keeps the shorts in place effectively. It's by far the most comfortable – and neatest – leg gripper I've ever worn.
The straps are thin and very stretchy, and cut long enough to accommodate a wide range of upper body sizes. It's soft against the skin, so you can easily forgo a base layer.
Inflexible tabs prevent this thin fabric from bunching up. These small rigid sections help you arrange the straps when you first put them on, and keep them sitting flat as you ride. I didn't notice them on the bike at all.
The straps join to a perforated rear panel, which provides plenty of ventilation. The 'no-sew' border here also helps with comfort, as the fabric stays the same thickness.
There's no easy-pee comfort break system, which makes mid-ride toilet stops more hassle, though Castelli does non-bib, waisted versions of these shorts if that's a deal breaker (they're cheaper at £180, too).
The Progetto X2 Air Seamless Donna two-layer pad has a soft, stretchy upper 'Skin Care Layer' to move with the skin, paired with a medium-density 'Cushioning Layer' and 3mm gel pads for support under the sit bones and perineum.
The fabric feels wonderfully smooth here, and I found ample cushioning for rides over six hours. It's a very comfortable chamois.
You may be thinking the incredibly thin fabric – Castelli call it 'papery' – might be on the fragile side. However, after the month-long testing period I've no reason to believe these won't last incredibly well. The fabric feels surprisingly robust and these still look as good as new. There are subtle logos, but no reflective detailing though.
These retail at £200 which is pricey, even for premium shorts. You can get some supremely comfortable and highly breathable bibs for around £160 – such as 7mesh's WK3 bib shorts (£160) and Velocio's Women's Ultralights (£168) – and both of those have very well-integrated comfort break designs, too.
These are exceptional performers for riding in all weathers and at all effort levels. The woven fabric is incredibly thin and breathable, yet feels robust and provides protection against wind and showers too.
The raw cut grippers are also the comfiest and neatest I've ever worn. Yes, the Premio Black bibs are expensive, but they really earn their keep as go-to shorts for all kinds of rides.
Excellent all-weather shorts with minimal seams, fantastic performance and wonderful comfort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Premio Black Women's Bib Shorts
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Castelli says: "The Premio Bibshort has been engineered to provide the ultimate in long-distance comfort and to be your favorite bibshort ever."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Gradient stretch woven fabric for the right support in the right place
Woven fabric weighs 30% less than comparable knit fabric
Perforated back bib panel with lie flat bib straps that don't bind at shoulders
Integrated gripper elastic at leg ending holds short in place without need for extra silicone grippers
Laser-etched logos with RossoCorsa at center back and black scorpion shadow logos at lower legs
Progetto X2 Air Seamless seat pad
Very well made.
The ultra-thin fabric is not as delicate as it may seem. There's also no bobbling after wearing and washing.
Spot on. The straps can accommodate a wide range of upper body sizes, too.
At 139g these aren't quite as light as Velocio's Ultralights (126g), but they're not far off!
Comfort is outstanding.
They're not cheap, but there's a lot of attention to detail. The quality, comfort and performance are worth it.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
All good when machine washed at 30°C.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They are very comfortable and perform exceptionally in all weathers; they give great wind defence, bead water effectively and breathe really well under heat or hard efforts. The rear panel also solves any transparency issues.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The weave fabric and leg grippers.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No easy pee design.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're expensive. There are comfortable and breathable options around the £160 mark, such as 7mesh's WK3 bib shorts (£160) and Velocio's Women's Ultralights (£168).
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
Overall, these are outstanding bib shorts for all weathers and types of ride. There are minimal seams, the leg grippers are super comfy and the tabs on the thin straps help with arranging them flat. The finish quality is also top notch and these are showing no signs of wear – the thin woven fabric is proving robust as well as breathable. Yes, the price is very high, but these are well worth it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road 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: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track
Anna has been hooked on bikes ever since her youthful beginnings at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit. As an avid road and track racer, she reached the heady heights of a ProCyclingStats profile before leaving for university. Having now completed an MA in Multimedia Journalism, she’s hoping to add some (more successful) results. Although her greatest wish is for the broader acceptance of wearing funky cycling socks over the top of leg warmers.