Designed for dry days and mild to cool temperatures, Castelli's Velocissima Women's Bibtights perform well and look stylish. However, although the fabric is super-soft and comfortable, it isn't proving very durable (and it's not at all water repellent), and the pad isn't as supportive as some.
While these are some of the most comfortable tights I have worn, the Velocissima are quite expensive for what they offer. The pad isn't as supportive as you'll find on Castelli's higher end designs, there's no water-repellency or pee-stop-friendly wizardry, and the fabric is already showing signs of questionable durability, which all works against justifying their £120 rrp.
The tights are made of Thermoflex fleece-lined fabric which is exceptionally soft against the skin. I'd say this accounts for their most noticeable feature – superior comfort. It's very supple, and thanks to some well-designed panelling the tights flow well with your body's movements when riding. There is no sense of compression or pinching anywhere.
The only break in the Thermoflex fabric is at the rear where there is a mesh panel. This helps prevent heat build-up effectively.
I've used the tights in a variety of temperatures and conditions, and I'd say Castelli's 5-15°C guidance is about right. Anything between about 6 and 12°C and they are perfect. I haven't had any issues with overheating and, in dry conditions, I've stayed nice and warm.
They still perform well at 3 or 4°C, but if you're pushing the single figure boundaries you won't want a drop of moisture on them. If you are unfortunate enough to get caught out in a spell of rain on a cooler day, there is no water resistance and the cold air quickly begins to chill you. They do dry out pretty quickly though.
At the upper end of the temperature range you'll want to be doing a steady ride rather than any kind of sweat-inducing intervals: while the fabric is breathable, the pad isn't so much.
The KISS Air2 Donna is a soft, pliable design. It's discreet off the bike – you don't get any real sense of bulk as you can with some firmer pads – and on the bike I found it supportive enough for rides of up to about three hours. Thereafter, I noted that it wasn't as supportive as some. I didn't note any adverse effects here – I think years of riding has hardened me and I rarely suffer – but, depending on your mileage in the bank over the years, this might not be supportive enough for longer rides.
The stitching at the edge of the chamois isn't the neatest either. I'd say construction here, on any pad, has to be pretty bad to really irritate, and I didn't have any issues with Castelli's – the outer is a very soft layer and the pad's pliability helps – but if you are prone to irritation/chafing, it's something to bear in mind.
Even at the top end of the price range there are huge variations in quality of stitching in this area: this photo shows that Gore's appear to have a much neater finish than the more expensive Castelli and Sportful. (From left: Castelli, Sportful and Gore.)
The Thermoflex fabric's softness does have its drawbacks. If you combine it with a jersey without a zip guard, it quickly starts bobbling. Castelli's own kit roughed it up, as you can see below. Contact with Velcro has a similar effect.
The legs are held securely in place at the ankle with a sturdy zipper. The reflective detailing here is effective, provided you don't have overshoes one. So many manufacturers overlook this seemingly obvious flaw with detailing around the ankle on winter kit.
Castelli offers the tights in four different colourways – a refreshing change to have so much choice for tights. The Savile Blue/Brilliant Pink on test, Black Fiery Red and Black Celeste all have a striking flash on the calf. It's stylish and definitely better than nothing in terms of visibility, though it won't appeal to everyone. The all black option is a much more neutral choice.
Two measurements dictate your choice on Castelli's size chart, hips and inseam. Following this, I tested a medium and found there is plenty of length in the leg – they will suit taller, long-legged builds. I'd say if you are in doubt, let this measurement dictate your choice. The fabric is super-stretchy and will accommodate a variety of shapes elsewhere.
The bib straps have sufficient stretch to hold the tights firmly in place without cutting into the shoulders. There's no extra technology evident – no frontal mesh or useful pee-stop function. The racer back design encourages the straps to sit outside your boobs at the front. This might not be to everyone's liking, but I found them very comfortable.
At £120, the Velocissima are quite expensive. They're £20 more than Gore's C3 Thermo bib tights and those have a double zip opening for pee stops and offer significantly more in the way of protection against the elements.
They do undercut the recently reviewed Signature bib tights from Iris (which feature pee-stop technology) by a tenner, but as Lara says in their defence, they are from a small boutique brand.
The Castelli Velocissima bib tights are exceptionally comfortable and stylish, but their soft fabric is also a drawback: they're not proving very durable, and there's no defence against rain. They are lovely to wear, but they need to do a bit more to justify the price for my liking.
Exceptionally comfortable and stylish, but limited to dry days, and questions over durability too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Velocissima Women's Bibtights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Castelli says, 'The Castelli Velocissima Women's Bibtights marry warmth and luxurious comfort in a subtle aesthetic, making them ideally suited to your winter training needs. At once highly breathable, elegantly constructed and primed for longer days in the saddle, these are a winter wardrobe staple.
Investing in a top-tier pair of bib tights for the winter months pays dividends not only in terms of performance gains but ride enjoyment. Uppers are often swapped and changed as conditions change but you're unlikely to change your bib tights throughout the duration of a training ride, so it's crucial to get a pair that keep your temperature regulated and ensure maximal comfort.
The Velocissima Bibtights are a stalwart pair of tights, owing to the meticulous care and attention invested in their development and refinement by Castelli's prestigious R & D team. Bred from a pedigree of tried, tested and widely lauded racing garments, the Velocissima Bibtights take technical innovations and employ them to give you the best winter training experience.
The Thermoflex fabric utilised across the tights is not only insulating but incredibly soft, owing to the optimal loft and refined composition that Castelli has employed. The brushed fleece inner is phenomenally warm but also allows freedom of movement on the bike. Combined with mesh bib straps the Thermoflex fabric makes for optimal breathability, so that as you transition from cooler starts to milder conditions your temperature remains just right.
The Kiss Air2 Donna seat pad employed in the Velocissima Bibtights is custom made by Castelli and chosen by many professional racers for their training needs, due to its moisture management properties and slightly more low-profile padding than the Progretto X2 seat pad. Needless to say, the Kiss Air2 keeps you comfortable even on long days on the bike.
As you would expect from Castelli, every single detail of the Velocissima Bibtights has been selected because it improves your ride experience. The YKK Camlock zippers on the ankle cuffs can be flipped upwards to lock the zipper in place, preventing it from unfastening mid-ride and exposing your ankles.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Thermoflex fleece-lined fabric for warmth
- Mesh bib straps are cut wide at bust for comfort
- KISS Air2 Donna seat pad for all-day comfort
- YKK® Camlock® ankle zippers
- 5°-15°C / 41°-59°F
Weight: 264 g
Very well made.
A little long in the leg for me.
I'd say let leg length override hip measurement (on Castelli's chart) and size down if in doubt.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy: 30°C, no softener, no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Castelli clearly states that these are the right tights 'if you don't need the rain and splash protection or the extra padding of our higher-end models'. I'd completely agree; they keep you warm in mild to cool conditions and the pad is supportive enough for rides in the region of a couple of hours in duration.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of protection against even road splash.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For what you are getting, these are quite pricey. Altura's Classic Thermals are only £79.99 and Gore's C3 tights offer significantly more protection for £100. Recently reviewed, and similarly specced, tights from Iris come in at £15 more, but that is a small boutique brand.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
While these are exceptionally comfy, breathable and stylish, there's no weatherproofing for your £120, which limits their use. The fabric is also very vulnerable, so durability is questionable.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
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, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…