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Castelli Omloop bibshorts review

28 Oct 2016

Castelli’s new Omloop thermal bibs successfully bridge the gap between shorts and tights.

Italian clothing brand Castelli claims that it had the idea for the Omloop bibshort when it noticed that some pro riders were cutting down their kneewarmers so they only just covered the knee but not any lower.

Apparently, at the early spring Classics such as Paris-Nice, the pros were keen to keep their large quad muscles warm, but didn’t want the extra material that bunches up behind the knee when wearing bibtights or kneewarmers.

Castelli spotted an opportunity and set to work creating a thermal short that would offer enough warmth for cold weather racing, but with no restrictions around the knee. The result was the Omloop, which is now available to us non-pros.

Essentially, the Omloop is just a long short, the idea being that the front edge sits just above the kneecap, while the rear stops above the crook of the knee so there is no scrunched-up material there while you pedal. 

Of course, the exact positioning of the lower edge of the shorts is somewhat dependent on the length of the rider’s legs.

Speaking personally, I have very long thighs, so my test pair stopped at a point an inch or so above my knee, which increased to a couple of inches of bare flesh once I started pedalling.

Certainly, the shorts offered no protection for my knees, but a rider with shorter legs might find the opposite – that the bibs cover the knees entirely.

For me, this wasn’t a problem. In fact, I’d like all bibshorts to be nearer this length, because the pros always seem to have shorts that come almost to their knees (and we’d all like to look more pro), while us weekenders have to put up with bibs that are often barely longer than hotpants (especially from certain Italian brands).

I can only assume that pro riders get to specify their preferred length, but that manufacturers make the standard versions shorter to save on material. Or perhaps I’ve just got freakishly long legs.

Once on, the Omloops feel soft and fleecy thanks to the Thermoflex fabric, yet they don’t feel at all bulky. My first thought was that they would simply be too thin to cope with cold weather, but on my first few rides I found that my thighs remained toasty and well-protected, while my calves didn’t seem to mind the temperature anyway. I guess, with no vital organs to protect, calves just don’t feel the cold as much as other parts of the body.

While I haven’t yet had the chance to test the shorts is biting cold conditions – the British autumn has so far been unseasonably mild – I suspect I could keep using the Omloops down to around 7°C or 8°C before I felt the need to switch to full winter leggings.

Certainly, the Omloop shorts do a great job of plugging the gap between standard bibs and thermal tights, and are perfect for days when it’s cold but not freezing – which is most of the year in Britain.

Verdict: A well-tailored, well thought-out, and surprisingly reasonably priced short, with Castelli’s usual impeccable styling. Just check the length is right for you before you buy.

£120 /


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