Castelli Evoluzione 2 Limited Edition Bib Review
Cons: Grippers could be better, crotch could have more room
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Castelli Evoluzione 2 Limited Edition Bib Shorts are generally considered entry-level shorts. While the price supports that view, the performance is a bit better than entry-level; that's why they earned our Best Bang for the Buck Award. They have a few areas that could improve, for sure. You won't have the best time grinding out a century in them, but you'll be fine at half the distance. They're probably best suited to the mid-week rides where you're hitting 30 or 40 miles at tempo after work with your buddies. If you're enjoying your social distancing and sticking to the trainer, you're looking at 60-75 minutes.
Padding and Protection
Their KISS Air2 chamois does its job. As we said, it's something like a mid-distance ride, so you're not riding in complete luxury. You'll start to feel the hotspots and chafe after a few hours. Then again, it's hard to find shorts where that's not going to be the case.
Still, their performance is nothing to sniff at. The multi-density chamois has a thinner density foam sitting atop the real cushioning below, aiding in the bum cushioning just enough to dampen road noise and reduce the excesses of the denser base foam. The base foam, also tapers, with the thickest section sitting beneath the ischium, sliding down the leanest section beneath the perineum. --There's nothing quite as sad as realizing that the super-thick padding under your central traverse was comfortable at the beginning of the ride, but within 45 minutes, it has become…your Waterloo. A brick sitting in your shorts. You won't get that with the Evoluzione 2s. They taper quite nicely to avoid any sort of sartorial masonry.
At the superficial level, the outer Skin Care Layer is a soft, seamless top sheet that's smooth enough to seduce you into rubbing your face on it (dude…just don't). Our sense is that it probably does reduce chafing and abrasion. We didn't notice anything unexpected after hours in the saddle. That's also helped along by the anatomical shape of the padding. It does a good job of hugging your body where it needs to and just disappearing where it's not needed, leaving on that seductive top sheet. The one big complaint we have is that the crotch is just a bit too tight. The remaining top layer generally covers the breadth of the subject's vagility, but it can be repressive. That's another reason why we suggest the shorts are best for rides under a few hours. You'll get to the point of needing to adjust your bits every few minutes as the ride wears on. It tends to become a theme around 90 or 120 minutes. If you're doing shorter rides under the 2-hour mark, you won't notice this too much.
Comfort and Fit
This is an area where the Castelli Evoluzione 2s excel, and it's a significant reason that they picked up our Best Bang for the Buck award. The fit is almost race-tight, but quite. It helps you feel fast, supported, and encourages you to stay locked down in good riding position.
The bottoms use a two-layer fabric made of 80% polyamide (nylon) and 20% elastane (Lyrca). This gives it good compression and support (nylon) with enough give and flex to keep you comfortable (Lycra). The particular knit design includes an added softness against the skin. The shoulder straps are also designed to reduce chafe and improve breathability. That's largely due to the 81% polyester 19% elastane mix. The polyester has superior moisture wicking to the polyamide (nylon) content of the main fabric, though it has other pitfalls, like lower flexibility and the propensity to hold onto oils, which translates to your body odor. Just be sure to give it a good hand-washing with a strong soap after every ride - which is what you should be doing with all shorts anyway.
They have 8 panels, making them reasonably flexible without going overboard. Uniquely, they've added extra stretchy side panels to each leg to improve fit. They seem to work well enough. Maybe mostly after climbing intervals when you're hulking out, and your thighs are on fire, the shorts seem a little less restrictive than in other shorts. That's also about the time that the inMold silicone grippers start to slip - once you've got a good salty sheen going and your thighs are all Arnie-swole. They're not terrible, but they do annoyingly slip after some time.
Breathability is ideal in these shorts. Most obviously, you can thank the lean, tight cut. Less fabric means less area covered and less insulation. That also means the shorts are chilly if you're going out in early mornings or evenings in the spring and fall. On the material side, their Pro Dry Soft fabric blends polyamide and elastane to balance comfort with moisture-wicking, and it does quite a good job of it.
Their mesh shoulder straps are made of a similar material, but instead use polyester to achieve even greater moisture-wicking and ventilation. The effectiveness of their ventilation becomes really apparent stuck inside on the trainer. Lesser shorts will hold the sweat until you're just soaked, and your shoes are repurposed for bailing whatever's sloughing off your legs. These do a solid job of pulling the sweat out so your fan (or the wind if you're lucky enough to be outside) can evaporate it.
The chamois multiple layers of foam seem to help pull moisture away from the surface to protect the bits, but it's pretty unavoidable that the water will just live in the thicker foam until you can get them hung up to dry (after hand washing, of course). On that note, the upper and main sections dry out quickly.
Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness
One of the things we most liked about these bibs is the way it hugs the body and supports just enough not to make you feel restricted. Sometimes the shorts with higher concentrations of nylon can feel heavy or cumbersome instead of compressive and empowering. You're not getting that here.
Part of that balance likely comes from the fabric's thin cut. The rest seems to come from the design of the panels. Particularly the side panels, which are just a bit more elastic than the rest of the shorts. They allow for just a little more flexibility without giving up too much compression.
The only thing we wish could be changed here is the grippers. The small silicone beads are cool in that they spell out CASTELLI, but it's a fine example of form over function, unfortunately. The grippers lose their grip after 30 or 45 minutes. About the time your warm-up is done.
It's a minor point, but the damn decals started coming off within three rides. How are you supposed to let other riders know you're repping the hell out of Castelli if your shorts aren't displaying the sweet logo?
Aside from that annoyance, we couldn't find much in the way of degradation. The upper and main fabric is comprised of tough polyamide and polyester, reducing the risk of abrasion and tearing. And where there might be vulnerabilities from use and stress, the thighs and cuffs, the extra-stretchy side panel reduces the stress and therefore cuts the risk of stress tears. The threading appears to be tough, and the seams strong. We couldn't find any serious reports of structural weaknesses.
This measure is necessarily subjective, so you'll need to exercise your own subjective judgment if you feel we've had a lapse in our visual acuity.
That said, we found these shorts to be moderately sexy. The cut is close and there's a nice mix of textures that compliment the thighs quite nicely. The decals along the sides, for as long as they're present (see above), are a nice touch.
We're pretty confident that the Evoluzione 2s are worth their asking price. You'll get a lot of comfort and use out of them for a few seasons. Keep in mind, there are a lot of shorts out there that will be more comfortable on the longer rides, but these are solid up through the mid-range rides.
Sure, they have a few weak points, but after spending our time in the saddle and doing our research, we're happy giving the Castelli Evoluzione 2s our Best Bang for the Buck Award. It's not just that they're among the most affordable bib shorts on the market, which they are, but it's because they ride as comfortably and efficiently as a lot of mid-range shorts. You're getting mid-range shorts at an entry-level rate. It doesn't hurt that they're also kinda sexy, at least inasmuch as bike shorts are sexy, which…debatable.
— Ryan Baham