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Castelli Competizione bib shorts are a great combination of comfort and performance. The fit is snug but not too tight, the fabric is very comfortable, and the grippers do a great job keeping the shorts in place. I only wish for fewer seams and a more comfortable chamois for all-day riding.
product and testing details:
The Italian brand Castelli is well known for being one of the leaders in cycling clothing and accessories. Its history goes back as far as 1876. Therefore it is not surprising that Castelli is a go-to brand for professional riders and cycling enthusiasts worldwide.
Since Castelli is somewhat of a synonym of quality and performance in cycling gear, I decided to take a deeper look at their entry-level and most affordable bib shorts – Castelli Competizione.
There are many comments on Castelli’s sizing online, with many suggesting going for a size up. However, I know that fit is very individual and decided to ignore all the sizing suggestions online.
I checked the sizing guide against my measurements, confirmed that it matches my regular clothing size S (EU), and went for it. This turned out to be the right decision. The fit for me is very comfortable, snug, and not too tight or restrictive. The bib shorts sit very well across the chest, waist, and legs.
If you are between sizes, I suggest finding an online store with a good return policy, buying two pairs, and then sending one back. You will not go wrong with such a strategy.
Scoring the fit 10/10.
The fabrics used for manufacturing Castelli Competizione bib shorts are very pleasant to touch and feel premium. Furthermore, the material is stretchy, making these bib shorts very easy to put on.
From what I can see, there are two types of fabric used to produce the main body of these bib shorts. The front side consists of a material with a golf ball pattern, which is supposed to be more aerodynamic. The inside part of the shorts consists of a more traditional lycra type of fabric.
On the downside, there are many seams because you need to stitch different fabrics together, which I don’t like. Also, with so many seams, there is a higher chance of them becoming split or loose.
In terms of breathability, the fabric is very good. Since the material is relatively thin, you feel the air passing through and getting enough ventilation. Overall, I like how breathable this fabric is.
Scoring the fabric 9/10.
The straps on Castelli Competizione Bib Shorts are comfortable and do not dig in or cause any discomfort. In addition, there are small holes throughout the straps, which add to the comfort and breathability of these bib shorts.
Overall, the straps are good, but I was not as impressed as with the straps on the Assos Mille GT bib shorts I reviewed here.
Scoring the straps 9/10.
Arguably one of the most essential parts of bib shorts is the chamois. In addition, chamois is a very personal piece of any bib shorts, and comfort depends on the saddle you are using. This is why a chamois that works for one person might not work for another.
Castelli offers their KISS Air2 seat pad with Competizione bib shorts. According to the brand, this pad should be comfortable enough on all-day adventures. However, for me, it is ideal for shorter rides below 4 hours. Above that, I start to feel discomfort and need to stand up more often. It is quite thick but not too bulky, and the seamless design is also excellent.
Overall, the KISS Air2 pad on Castelli Competizione is good but is not my go-to choice for longer rides in total comfort.
Scoring the chamois 8/10.
The grippers are super wide (the widest grippers I ever saw), and I was surprised by how comfortable they are. Made of silicone, and do a great job at keeping the bib shorts in one place.
I don’t feel any movement restriction or blood flow issues, and I am pleased with how they work and feel. Also, they are not super sticky so putting the shorts on is not a problem at all.
This is why scoring them 10/10.
In summary, these are the things I liked about Castelli Competizione bib shorts:
Perfect fit throughout and no discomfort whatsoever.
The fabric feels great and is very breathable. Also, there is a lot of stretch in the fabric so putting them on/off is quick and easy.
Overall, very comfortable bib shorts even though they are racing-focused.
The grippers are very wide and do an excellent job keeping the bib shorts in one place.
Here is what I did not like:
There are too many seams throughout these bib shorts, which makes them less durable.
For me, the pad is ideal for shorter rides (up to 3-4 hours) but not as comfortable for longer ones.
I would recommend Castelli Competizione Bib Shorts to a friend for everyday cycling, training, and weekend coffee rides. The fit is excellent and comfortable, and the fabric is breathable and stretchy. In addition, the grippers do a great job at keeping them in place without restricting blood flow or causing discomfort. However, if you want something more padded that can handle longer rides, check out my review of Assos Mile GT Bib Shorts.
Frequently asked questions:
1. Are Castelli bibs good?
Castelli makes excellent cycling clothing and is one of the most known brands in the industry. Their bib shorts fall into a premium category and are priced accordingly. The fabric quality is impressive, and generally, the feedback from cyclists is very positive. The fit is snug and quite tight as Castelli is very performance-focused.
The higher you go on the price scale, the better the fabric and chamois you get. However, even the most budget-friendly Castelli bib shorts are good and offer more than enough for most riders. Similar brands you can consider are Rapha and Assos.
2. Do Castelli shorts run small?
Actually, this is not true, and the best course of action is to stick to Castelli’s size chart. Castelli is very performance-focused, and a lot of their products have been designed for racing, so they tend to be more tight-fitting than some other brands on the market. Also, the measurements between brands often don’t match. For example, you might wear L of one brand but M of another.
So Castelli does not run small, but in comparison to other brands, the sizing is different. This is why we recommend measuring yourself, looking up your size on Castelli’s chart size, and going for the appropriate size. If you are between sizes, try to find an online store with a good return policy and order 2 sizes. Keep the one that fits better and return the other.
3. How do Castelli bib shorts fit?
Castelli bib shorts are designed to be snug but comfortable enough for all-day rides. To find the right size go to Castelli’s size chart, measure yourself, and find the corresponding size. If you are on the border between sizes, go for a larger one unless you prefer a snug fit.
4. Should I size up in Castelli?
No, you should stick to the size chart. Castelli is designed for performance, and they are meant to be tight fitting which many riders prefer.
There is a difference in sizes between EU & US and also between different manufacturers. These differences created many comments online about Castelli’s sizing and a need to go for the size up. However, it is not very good advice since the fit is very individual, and measurements across brands do not match. Just measure yourself, find your size on Castelli’s chart and go for it.
5. How tight should bib shorts be?
Bib shorts should be tight enough to prevent any chafing and discomfort during your ride but comfortable to wear. If they are very tight, you will feel like blood circulation or oxygen flow is cut off. Also, the fit of a pad is paramount. It should not be too bulky but thick enough to provide comfort throughout the whole ride.
Overall, when you try bib shorts on, pay attention to how comfortable they feel throughout. If seams or pad are chafing or grippers dig into your skin then the shorts don’t fit you well.
Keep in mind that the fit might feel weird at first, but once you get used to it and wear them for a few rides, you will feel like they are your second skin.