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Castelli's Sorpasso RoS Wind bib tights provide windproof protection for your working muscles, they're water repellent, and they come with an excellent seat pad. For keeping comfortable on cold and filthy winter rides, they're hard to beat.
One of the key factors of these tights is the Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper X-Fast fabric which covers your quads, knees, and what Castelli euphemistically calls 'your most sensitive parts'.
Infinium Windstopper X-Fast lives up to its name by halting cold air in its tracks, which you'll particularly value when you hit a fast descent. It's a softshell fabric that's water resistant – highly water resistant, in my experience – with a deep fleece inner face, so you get plenty of insulation here.
The Infinium Windstopper X-Fast isn't as springy as a standard Roubaix fabric but you do still get lengthwise stretch, and Castelli has cleverly articulated the design around the knees, giving you enough freedom of movement to pedal comfortably.
I've used tights in the past with windproof panels that don't stretch much, so they either put pressure on your knees or, if they're cut looser to allow for this, the fabric ruck ups as you pedal. I wouldn't say the Infinium Windstopper X-Fast feels exactly like a non-windproof fabric, but it's about as close as I've ever experienced, and it's certainly not something I noticed when riding.
The non-windproof areas are made from Nano Flex 3G and Nano Flex Xtra Dry fabrics – Nano Flex being the name Castelli gives to its non-membrane polyester materials that feature a coating of tiny silicone filaments. These panels are warm and breathable, and the Nano Flex finish is water repellent, which is especially useful at the back where it stops any spray from your rear wheel soaking in. That back panel extends high enough to keep you well covered even if your jersey/jacket rides up a bit as you move.
Nano Flex, which has been around for many years now, won't entirely protect you from rain – Castelli doesn't claim that – but it does encourage light drizzle and road spray to roll off. Its effectiveness gradually diminishes over time, but you can give it a new breath of life by ironing the surface (yes, it really works).
You get YKK zips down at the ankles with pullers that lock into place. Do you need zips on anything you're not going to be taking off over your shoes mid-ride? I'm easy either way.
The panel that runs alongside the zip looks shiny black/grey in daylight but it's highly reflective to help you get noticed by other road users at night. Wearing overshoes on the outside of your tights will largely cover these panels, though, which is something you might want to consider if you're out in the dark.
Castelli specs its top-level Progetto X2 Air seat pad here. This provides variable thickness cushioning and includes gel-like padding in the perineum and ischial areas. Sitting next to your skin, you get a stretchy microfibre layer with a perforated foam backing. This seamless top layer isn't fused to the underlying cushioning – the two can move independently to avoid any irritation as you pedal.
There's a lot going on with this pad and it really works to provide superb comfort however long you're in the saddle. I can't praise it highly enough, and you don't need to worry about durability; I have plenty of these that have stood the test of time.
Up top you get seamless elastic bib straps with a rear mesh panel at the back to keep them in place, spread the load, and wick sweat away as you ride.
The straps are designed to lie flat. I must say that mine had taken on a furrowed appearance over the top of the shoulders after a few weeks. Eventually, I took an iron to them (the second time ironing cycling kit has been mentioned in one review; what's going on?) in order to get them sitting right again, and that worked fine. I found that straightening them out when they came out of the washing machine meant they dried flat.
Castelli says the Sorpasso RoS Wind bib tights are suitable for temperatures from -5°C to 8°C. It'll all depend on your own personal thermostat and how hard you're riding, of course, but I'd say that's about right.
For me, I start to struggle without windproof panels on tights when the temperature drops below about 5°C, and all the fun has gone by about 2°C. With the Sorpasso RoS Wind bib tights, I carried on riding comfortably when the Beast of the East II hit the UK, the Infinium Windstopper X-Fast being the difference between enduring the conditions and actually enjoying myself. Plus, you need to keep those knees warm so that they'll look after you in old age. The coldest ride I went on this winter was -2°C, but it was considerably lower than that considering the wind chill, and my lower body felt fine.
Windproof panels always add to the price of bib tights, although the Craft Ideal Wind Bib Tights we reviewed recently were great value at £90. I reckon the fit of the Castelli tights is better, though, and so is the seat pad.
The Gore C3 Windstopper Bib Tights that featured on off.road.cc last year were £129.99 but reviewer Liam Mercer felt that the fit wasn't quite there. You have to pay £139.99 for the version with a seatpad.
Rapha's Men's Pro Team Winter Tights With Pad II use a windblocking, durable water repellent (DWR) fabric for the front panels, so they're a similar concept to the Castellis. These really impressed reviewer Ash, although they are more expensive at £210.
The Sorpasso RoS Wind bib tights put in an exceptional performance. The Windstopper panels really work to keep you comfortable in cold conditions and don't inhibit movement, and the Nano Flex treatment helps keep you dry on wet roads. Add in an excellent seat pad and you have a remarkably good pair of winter tights.
Warm bib tights with windproof panels for cold winter weather, and an exceptionally good seat pad
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Sorpasso RoS Wind Bib Tights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Castelli says, "Made for serious riding in cold conditions, this tight brings Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper wind protection to the upper front portions, combined with Nano Flex 3G fabric for soft, stretchy, warm and water-repellent protection on the rest of the tight. A Progetto X2 Air seamless seat pad confirms this tight's aim of satisfying the most determined and demanding cold- weather riders.
"Our Sorpasso tight is our workhorse performance tight for the cyclist who rides seriously right through the winter months. With the Sorpasso Wind we add a Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper fleece-backed panel covering your most sensitive parts as well as your thigh muscles to keep them at ideal operating temperature.
"While many wind tights will sacrifice fit or comfort or breathability for that wind protection, the two-way stretch of this fabric combined with careful patterning makes for minimal compromise and maximum comfort.
"Everything else on this tight represents our commitment to performance and comfort: the non-windproof parts are in Nano Flex 3G and Nano Flex Xtra Dry to provide stretch, warmth, breathability and our proprietary water-repellent finish. They're the best tights fabrics we've developed to date.
"The seat pad is our top-of-the-line Progetto X2 Air for comfort on long rides, and the bib construction is designed for comfort as well. Large reflective panels at the back of the ankle provide moving reflectivity that is more noticeable to approaching cars. This is the tight for you if subfreezing temperatures aren't going to hold you back."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Castelli lists these features:
- Nano Flex 3G fabric for our best mix of warmth, stretchy compression, softness and water repellency
- Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper X-Fast fleece-backed fabric panel on upper front and thighs for extra warmth
- Nano Flex 3G back panel to protect from road spray
- Anatomic cut to hips and knee
- Reflective inserts for maximum visibility from behind
- Lie-flat elastic bib straps
- YKK Camlock zippers at ankles
- Temperature range -5° to 8 °C / 23°-46°F
They're well made with very good fabrics.
The combination of Windstopper and Nano Flex fabrics and an exceptionally good seat pad means they keep you comfortable.
There's a tiny amount of bobbling on one side of the seat area – nothing major – and I've used these loads.
They fit like tights without windproof panels – which is a good thing.
Who cares? The fact that they're low bulk is good though.
The Progetto X2 Air seat pad is really good, and the fleecy/brush-backed fabrics feel great.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They go into the machine at 30 degrees and come out looking fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. These have become my go-to bib tights for cold winter days.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The warmth, the seat pad, and the fact that they don't ruck as you pedal.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're not the cheapest, but they're not the most expensive either.
The Craft Ideal Wind Bib Tights we reviewed recently were much cheaper at £90, but the Castelli's fit and seat pad are better.
The Gore C3 Windstopper Bib Tights+ are £139.99 but, again, the fit isn't as good as you get here.
Rapha's Men's Pro Team Winter Tights with Pad II use a windblocking, durable water repellent (DWR) fabric for the front panels. They're exceptionally good but they cost £210.
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
I think the exceptional performance warrants a 9 overall. Great bibs can make all the difference to a cold winter ride so it makes sense to invest in some high-quality kit.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.