Hands-on Gear Review

Castelli Velocissima Bib Review

Lightweight and highly breathable, this bib is built for 5+ hours in the saddle.
By: Rebecca Eckland ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 20, 2018
Price:  $130 List  |  $97.46 at Competitive Cyclist - 25% Off
Pros:  Lightweight, highly breathable, subtle color accents
Cons:  Tight shoulder straps, thin chamois, expensive
Manufacturer:   Castelli Cycling
68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 9
  • Comfort and Fit - 25% 7
  • Padding and Protection - 25% 7
  • Breathability and Fabric - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Style - 10% 7
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Our Verdict

Imagine this: you just signed up for a 100-mile Gran Fondo in the heat of the summer months. You've always worn shorts, but you're tired of the sunburn tramp-stamp on your lower back that has made pool parties embarrassing. Enter the Castelli Velocissima Bib, a short that is super lightweight, breathable and, well, a bib, which means you're guaranteed to get through your ride without nature's backhand to your backside.

If you're not opposed to a short, the Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 7.5 short offers a lot more comfort and protection for a lot less overhead. If you definitely want a bib for those longer efforts, the SUGOi RS Pro Bib offers a substantial amount of additional protection, but without the Castelli name.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Velocissima is a lightweight, breathable bib that performs at its best for rides up to 70 miles. Beyond that, however, the chamois fails to offer sufficient protection.

Performance Comparison


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.
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.

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. This is true of all three bibs in this review, including the Shebeest Petunia Bib and SUGOi RS Pro Bib.

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.


Unlike the Progetto X2 Air Donna chamois in the Castelli Free Aero, 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 (unlike the Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit or Co-Op 9" Cycles Road Short). Granted, it is not quite as thick as other chamois of similar price (and pales in comparison to the SUGOI Formula FX Chamois), you won't miss the bulk and will love the added breathability of a thinner chamois in the secure design of a bib short.

Breathability/Fabric


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 in the Castelli Free Aero shorts.


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.

Durability


Also, even though $130 isn't the most expensive short included in this review, we nearly started to cry when, halfway through the 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.
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 (like the aforementioned iron-on logo on the back) aren't built to last, the quality chamois, Giro-3 leg grippers the reinforced seams — the important, foundational elements –are.

Style


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.

Best Applications


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.

For shorts and bibs better suited to rides 100 miles or more, you might want to check out the SUGOi RS Pro Bib, the Castelli Free Aero and the Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 7.5.

Value


While the Velocissima Bib is a great product, at $130, it's a bit much for what it brings to the saddle. Despite its high breathability, the short's chamois isn't suited for longer rides - in this respect, the Velocissima Bib is much like the Shebeest Petunia Bib. We prefer the Shebeest, however, for its innovative halter design that makes pit stops a little more convenient, and its fun colors and patterns that don't come out in the wash.

Conclusion


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.

Rebecca Eckland

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Most recent review: August 20, 2018
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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