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by Neal Rogers
January 14, 2020
Castelli has a new lightweight, hot-weather bib short that weighs less than an iPhone.
Just in time for the Santos Tour Down Under and its characteristic stifling heat, the Italian apparel brand that sponsors Team Ineos has unveiled its new Superleggera bib short, weighing in at just 141 grams in size large.
The Superleggera comes in as Castelli’s lightest bib short, and by a significant margin — the Free Aero Race 4 bib short weighs 172 grams in size large. By comparison, an iPhone X weighs 174 grams.
Castelli’s Superleggera bib short weighs in at just 141 grams in size large.
The Superleggera is constructed with the same Progetto X² Air Seamless seat pad and striped mesh bibs as the Free Aero Race 4, but it uses a new woven, rather than knit, fabric, shaving weight while offering the same level of support and opacity. (Yes, the fabric is very thin. No, you can’t see through it.) It also utilizes a gradient fabric that becomes increasingly lighter as it extends down the leg, and a flat stretch woven leg gripper to hold it in place.
In your hand, the Superleggera feels almost as though it’s made of tissue paper; it’s difficult to imagine it might survive any kind of riding incident. Even Castelli’s marketing material alludes to the limitations of its durability, with phrasing pointing out that a super-light bib short still “needs to last a season of hard use,” adding that that the Superleggera still offers “decent durability,” followed by a plea to “keep the rubber side down.”
That said, it would be unfair to single out the Superleggera simply because Castelli recommends you don’t crash while wearing it. All modern racing bib shorts are made of thin, light fabrics and do not withstand any kind of substantive impact with the tarmac.
The benefit of the lightweight fabric, Castelli says, is dynamic, with a claimed 30% less moisture absorption when sweating. And that’s key, as the Superleggera is intended to be worn in 20-40°C (68-104°F) conditions. It’s an ultralight bib short meant for hot conditions that won’t soak up as much of your sweat.
Castelli’s Superleggera utilizes a gradient fabric that becomes increasingly lighter as it extends down the leg, and a flat stretch woven leg gripper to hold it in place.
On your body, the Superleggera feels snug, sleek, and comfortable. The first time I put on a pair, I had a hard time believing it would comfortably stretch into place, but stretch it did. Once pedaling, the Superleggera feels great, with the chamois held perfectly in place; the thin fabric never crossed my mind. So while comfort is not an issue; the real question centers around durability. I certainly haven’t given them a season of hard use, but after several rides, there’s been no discernible abrasion from the saddle. And no, I haven’t crash-tested them.
The Superlegga bib short comes in six sizes, from small to 3XL, and costs USD $230/€200.
Also likely to be on display at the Tour Down Under is the third-version of Castelli’s lightweight Climber’s Jersey, weighing in at 116 grams in size large. The Climber’s 3.0 Jersey is 33 grams heavier than the 2.0 version, and there are several reasons for the significant weight difference: the dropped tail, which Castelli says was needed for improved pocket placement while keeping the jersey fitting well at the waist; the silicone gripper, to keep the jersey from sliding; and elbow-length stretch sleeves and aero shoulder construction, for maximum airflow.
Castelli’s Climber’s 3.0 jersey weighs 116 grams in size large.
The jersey was designed with Team Ineos, Castelli says, for “the rigors of pro racing in hot weather and in the high mountains.” It’s made of lightweight open fabrics that enable airflow and quick evaporation while also blocking a claimed 90 percent of UV rays. So while it’s perfect for blazing hot summer days, it’s also a good choice on warm, wet days, as it doesn’t take on much by way of moisture.
Fit is snug, as you’d expect. It’s a jersey made for racers, using the same patterning as Castelli’s 159g Aero Race 6.0 jersey.
The Climber’s 3.0 Jersey comes in seven sizes and four colors — light steel blue, sangria, dark gray/yellow fluo, and ivory/light blue steel — and costs USD $140/€90.
The Superleggera bib short and Climber’s 3.0 jersey are made for going as fast as possible uphill.