Real aero.

It seems all of the young talent from the US is gradually migrating to Cannondale-Drapac. Though we're sure the allure of green argyle—not to mention a paycheck—is primarily responsible, it can't hurt that Castelli has served as the team's official kit sponsor. Given that relationship, Talansky, Phinney, et al, spent most of their 2016 race miles in the Cannondale Free Aero Race Bib Shorts. Despite their youth, Cannondale's young guns leave behind some big bibs to fill. We don't necessarily seeing ourselves eclipsing their talents any time soon—if at all—but sometimes it's fun to pretend.

There's no make-believe in how the Free Aero Shorts are designed to cheat the wind, though, with Castelli crediting them for reducing power output requirements by a claimed 10 watts while travelling at race speeds. The secret to these gains lies in how the shorts manage airflow across their multiple boundaries and textures—most obviously via the dimpling across the shorts' outer plane. Like with a golf ball or some deep carbon rims, these dimples manage the turbulent lamina of air that runs along the shorts' surface, preventing its premature release into pockets of drag-inducing dead air.

Castelli found itself unwilling to part with the Progetto X2 Air chamois, so it returns with only one minor change: its surface is softer, which means it now presents a more gentle face to your perineum. It retains its bacteriostatic properties, seamless construction, four-way stretch, and ventilating, perforated foam layer. The perforated viscous comfort inserts also enjoy an encore performance, so your sensitive areas will enjoy riding over all manner of terrain.

Those may be the only returning features of the previous model—not even the materials used were safe from Castelli's obsessive need to tinker. The seat and front of the shorts both feature fabrics designed for durability and cooling breathability, respectively, and the entire body is 30% Lycra for a fit that strikes a balance between compression and unrestrictive movement.

The bib straps' wide-open, non-stifling design also returns from the previous model, but the bibs themselves now comprise two materials. The straps are mesh 3/4 of the way up, but—like any good domestique—the mesh lets a yolk of Castelli's innovative Carré material summit your shoulders. Carré is a hem-less strap that lies virtually flat against your skin, so there aren't any wind-grabbing, stegosaurus ridges from bib straps bulging out of your jersey. The liminal seam between mesh and Carré is also reinforced, so you don't have to worry about any wardrobe malfunctions while hoisting the trophy on the podium.

Last year's model featured Castelli's upgraded Giro3 integrated grip bands at the hem, but it shouldn't surprise you at this point that Castelli has upgraded these yet again. The new Giro Air has the same perfectly flat, stay-in-place grip, but with less mass, which no doubt contributes to the claimed overall weight loss of 17 grams and definitely reduces the aerodynamic footprint. The new band is wider, almost equaling the length of a typical Euro-slammed road stem, and every square millimeter of the material acts as the gripping agent. No silicone gel print here.

The lower mass means the leg bands are also pretty transparent, which may initially be a turn-off, but will likely take off as it appears in the pro peloton. In this case, it's important to note that "pro" isn't short for "UV protection," so we recommend a bit of sunscreen applied a few minutes before suiting up. As a final touch, Castelli included highly reflective details on the back of the grippers for extra safety, just in case you get caught out at a time when sunscreen won't do any good.

  • Racing bib shorts that celebrate argyle and Pantone 376 C
  • Aerodynamic paneling carries claims of increased speed
  • Gently compressive material helps keep you fresh for the finale
  • Race-specific chamois balances low profile and comfort
  • Lie-flat bib straps and cuffs reduce transitional ridges
  • Reflective details add visibility for late rides home from the crit series
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

Bob short

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: Xl

High Quality of Bib short

Bib straps way too short

  • Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: XL

I read the reviews on sizing and ordered up a size. The shorts fit and felt great but the straps on the bibs were way too short. Not even close to a reasonable fit. I am tall, but I have not had difficulty with other brands even in smaller sizes. I would not order this if you are over 5'10".

Good Bib Shorts

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: Large

I’m a bike commuter putting in 5 days a week @ 30 miles a day so I tend to put more wear on kit faster than most. I’ve only worn these bib shorts once but have a few impressions to share.
1. I felt that this piece fit similarly to other similar Castelli bib shorts that I own. I'm 5'10" & 168 pounds. A large was the right size for me.
2. It is race fit and snug. I like the compression. The straps are adequately wide and there is no discomfort.
3. Because of the race fit, the pad doesn’t move at all. I’d also note that the pad was very good and, based on the first 30 miles, I could easily see myself wearing this for a long day of riding.
4. Finally, I really didn’t notice the bibs at all during the 30 mile commute. I’d suggest that’s a good sign – it’s pretty easy to tell if your bib shorts are a lemon.