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Castelli LW bibtights review

1 Mar 2018
Verdict:

Finally, the kind of tights I've been waiting on for years

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£125
For 
Surprisingly warm despite very lightweight feel. Zero restriction to movement. Exceptionally comfortable.
Against 
Might not suit until spring if you are a rider who generally runs cold most of the time.

Buy the Castelli LW bibtights from Wiggle here

I’m going to come out and say this right off the bat; when Castelli launched these LW (lightweight) bibtights I was overjoyed. Why? Because finally someone had made the kind of bibtights I’ve personally really wanted for years.

The key to the design is they are only warm where they need to be, such that when they’re on it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing tights at all.

For me that’s the Holy Grail right there. A layer of insulation that you can barely even notice.

One of my biggest bugbears with many tights on the market is the feeling of restriction they bring when you’re working hard on the bike – like your muscles are being strangled.

I feel that many designers must assume because it’s chilly enough to be wearing tights you must just be doing steady miles, so insulation is the primary goal. But that’s not often the case.

There’s an obsession with over-panelling and overcomplicating bibtights, often resulting in too many seams and also windproof, waterproof panels or whatever other form of ‘extreme weather’ protection clothing designers deem appropriate to layer-up over the base fabrics.

For more see saddleback.co.uk.

What’s worse is they often target the knee area as needing ‘additional protection’, which makes some logical sense, I get it, but the problem is the knee is also the last place you need any excess bulky material or less-stretchy fabrics.

In a nutshell it’s really tricky to achieve good insulation in a bibtight that doesn’t feel restrictive at all in use and I think very few manufacturers have ever truly succeeded.

What Castelli has done with the LW bibtight is slightly different. It’s just focussed on making a superb fitting pair of bibtights, based around a concept it used to great effect with its Omloop short.

For those unfamiliar, the Omloop short is like a longer thermal bibshort where the upper thigh portion extends down to meet with the front of the knee cap, and the rear is sculpted in such a way as to reduce bulk behind the knee when riding.

I found them to be surprisingly effective at delivering additional warmth, versus a standard thermal short.

Imagine then, the Omloop short with the addition of lightweight Nano Light fabric covering the portion from the knee to ankle (to fulfil the ‘tight’ criteria), and you’re somewhere close to the LW tight.

The use of Thermoflex fabric up top means it’s warm and cosy only where it needs to be (on the upper legs and around the above-knee tendons etc) but still highly flexible and definitely non restrictive.

The lower Nano-Light fabric is so lightweight it’s barely noticeable once you are wearing them, but still achieves some additional warmth and spray defence.

Of course there’s a caveat. It’s a garment that’s been heavily influenced by pro riders, who basically ride pretty hard most of the time, in races and training.

So, the LW bibtight does require that you are working at an intensity sufficient to keep warm.

Forget the LW tight for a deep-winter café ride, and those that run cold most of the time may not find the same admiration for the product that I have, but I’ve found it absolutely fine for winter reliability trials (average 17-18mph) in temperatures as low as 2 or 3°C.

Another great aspect of the design is they dry so quickly if you do get caught in a rainstorm. The thinner fabrics don’t seem to hold on to water in the way thicker tights would so there’s no feeling of saturation, and sagging.

The padded insert is Castelli’s Progetto X2 Air pad, which has been around a few years now, but still remains one of the best I’ve ever tested in terms of comfort, wicking and its ability to move with you, which again helps it to feel like its not there at all.

I’ve gone back to these bibtights time and time again this winter, even on days where arguably they’re not quite warm enough.

I think Castelli has really hit on something with the LW bibtights. I feel most people overdress their legs, when in reality, providing you are pedalling at least with some degree of effort, your legs don’t need heaps of insulation, and having such unrestricted movement, as these do, feels superb.

The LW Bibtights will not be everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure, and I wouldn’t choose them for the coldest days in winter, but for any rides of a reasonable pace at temperatures of 5°C to 15°C I will find it hard not to reach for them.

Buy the Castelli LW bibtights from Wiggle here

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