Velocissima vs. Velocissima 2
Since our test period with the Velocissima, Castelli has released the second generation of this bib. It doesn't look like they've reinvented the wheel, but there are some tweaks; the seamlines and paneling have changed some, and the leg holes now have a raw finish, which Castelli claims helps fight the dreaded "sausage effect". There are also new silicone vertical leg grippers to keep the short in place. Compare the two models below; the Velocissima we tested is pictured first, followed by the Velocissima 2.
We're linking now to the Velocissima 2, but until we've tested that version, the review below is still in reference to the older model.
Hands-On Review of the Velocissima Bib
The Velocissima Bib, like most bibs, offers extra protection and coverage, while giving female riders a huge hassle when nature calls. There are no two ways about it: this bib requires undressing.
Photo: Rich Staley
Comfort & Fit
A discussion of the merits of wearing bibs versus shorts is probably in order, especially since the idea of bibs, to any new cyclist, probably sounds corny, or at least mildly distasteful (aren't bibs for babies or old people?). Keep the following in mind: bibs are not just regular shorts with added suspenders. While everyone has a personal preference for one over the other, here are some features of the Velocissima bib that you won't find in any short.
First, there is no waistband. This might sound slightly revolutionary, like when they introduced shoes with Velcro (no laces!). It's a nice touch. If your experience with cycling shorts is that the elastic of the waist pinches you uncomfortably, then bibs are an option you may want to try.
Second: you won't show any skin you don't want to. Remember the sunburn tramp stamp example above? Bibs prevent this disaster from happening because the fabric doesn't end at your waistline — even if your jersey rides up, your bibs keep you covered.
However, there is one major caveat to bibs: the bathroom issue. Sometimes (depending on where the straps are located on your bib short), you can work around this by wearing a full-zip jersey. Most of the time, however, you're stuck with taking it all off when nature calls. Alas, this is the case for the otherwise comfortable and well-designed Velocissima.
Padding & Protection
The disturbingly-named KISS chamois is described by Castelli as a "women's specific seat pad for proven comfort," has visible ridges that are higher beneath the sit bones and pubic bone, and recessed for more sensitive areas.
There is no elevation profile of the chamois printed across its surface, yet you can see and feel that there are layers to this chamois. Granted, it is not quite as thick as other chamois of similar price, but you might not need the bulk and will love the added breathability of a thinner chamois in the secure design of a bib short. It's a pretty good chamois, just not our favorite.
Castelli's "Endurance Evolution" fabric is a synthetic blend that feels lightweight, breathable, and soft enough to keep from chafing even on the hottest days. The blend of Polyamide and Elastane feels lighter than the material used to make most chamois, which means it's highly breathable (but doesn't offer as much protection. See the "Padding and Protection" section, below.)
In our soak test, the Velocissima performed well, going from completely soaked to damp in a little over an hour. These results were confirmed on rigorous test rides: with 5+ hour rides in 95-degree weather, the bibs made us feel as snug as a bug in a rug—or as fit as a cyclist in a Castelli product. Despite climbs, descents, and hot weather conditions—elements that can cause a short or bib to misbehave—the Velocissima is as disciplined as its rider; it stays in place and, despite being black, breathes enough to make even the hottest day in the saddle tolerable. While it won't hide all the salt you sweat out on the hottest days, it wicks moisture away and keeps you as comfortable as you can be for 100 miles on the road under direct sun.
Halfway through our testing phase, the Castelli logo started to peel off the fabric. How can the person drafting you know you're the real deal if they can't see you're wearing Castelli?
Oh noooo! While the de-lamming of a logo is a rather minor issue in regards to durability, it nonetheless saddened our testers that this type of wear happened so quickly during our testing period.
However, while some cosmetic features of the bib aren't built to last, the quality chamois, Giro-3 leg grippers the reinforced seams — the important, foundational elements –are.
The Velocissima Bib's colorful details—the stitching and side panel accent—add options for you to coordinate your cycling kit. The stitching—which comes in five options (black, red, white, pastel mint and sky blue) adds just a hint of color that contours your body's shape to add a tasteful accent to this otherwise black bib.
The other piece of "flair" was the white script logo on the back of the short. However, after two soak tests, several hundred miles and a handful of trips through the wash, this stylish accent started to fall off, leaving the back of the short an expanse of black.
Typically, we prefer bibs to shorts for longer rides due to the way they do not constrict a rider's breathing while offering more coverage (which is especially important on long, summer days.) This is very true for the Velocissima Bib that combines ultimate breathability with a high degree of protection. Our testers preferred this short for rides around the 70-mile range where the chamois shone as the perfect combination of protection without too much bulk. For rides beyond that mark, however, the chamois didn't quite measure up to what our tester's sit bones wanted.
While the Velocissima Bib is a great product, but its price is a bit much for what it brings to the saddle. Despite its high breathability, the short's chamois isn't suited for longer rides.
This stylish, mid-performance bib was a favorite of petite testers who prefer to wear bibs instead of shorts and who don't mind (mostly) basic black. However, for the price, we believe you can find a comparable product that will add more padding and protection.