Women ride. And Castelli is now giving us the kit to do it in pro style. With the Free Aero Women's Bib Shorts we can now do it in the tippy-top of Castelli's race shorts line, previously reserved for men only. Compared to the previous, men-only model, this latest version features an the updated chamois, new bib construction, and—our favorite—the innovative changes made to the already ground-breaking leg bands.
As the name suggests, the Free Aero Race Shorts are designed to cheat the wind, reducing power output requirements by a claimed 10 watts at 50 kilometers an hour. The secret to these gains lies in how the shorts manage airflow across their multiple boundaries and textures — most obviously via the dimpling on the shorts' outer thigh of Vortex fabric. Like with a golf ball or some deep carbon rims, these dimples manage the turbulent lamina of air that runs along the shorts' surface, preventing its premature release into pockets of drag-inducing dead air. This is complemented with a compressive stretch from the Forza fabric on the inner thighs, which incorporates 30% Lycra in order to ensure that your ride is both wind- and restriction-free.
The shorts incorporate a women's version of the Progetto X2 Air Seat Pad, returning this year with only one, minor change: its surface is softer, which means it now presents a more gentle face to your perineum. It retains its bacteriostatic properties, seamless construction, four-way stretch, and ventilating, perforated foam layer. The perforated viscous comfort inserts also enjoy an encore performance, so your sensitive areas will enjoy riding over all manner of terrain.
The new bibs' wide open, non-stifling design also returns from the previous model, but the straps themselves now comprise two materials. The straps are mesh 3/4 of the way up, but — like any good domestique — the mesh lets a yolk of Castelli's innovative Carré material summit your shoulders. Carré is a hem-less strap that lies virtually flat against your skin, so there aren't any wind-grabbing, stegosaurus ridges from bib straps bulging out of your jersey. The liminal seam between mesh and Carré is also reinforced, so you don't have to worry about any wardrobe malfunctions while hoisting a trophy on the podium.
The previous men's model featured Castelli's upgraded Giro3 integrated grip bands at the hem, but the women's first foray into Free Aero land starts off premium. The new Giro Air has the same perfectly flat, stay-in-place grip, but with less mass, which no doubt contributes to the claimed overall weight loss of 17 grams and definitely reduces the aerodynamic footprint. The new band is wider, almost equaling the length of a typical Euro-slammed road stem, and every square millimeter of the material acts as the gripping agent. No silicone gel print here.
We should also point out that the leg bands are also pretty transparent, which may initially be a turn-off, but will likely take off as it appears in the pro peloton. In this case, it's important to note that "pro" isn't short for "UV protection," so we recommend a bit of sunscreen applied a few minutes before suiting up. As a final touch, Castelli included highly reflective details on the back of the leg bands for extra safety, just in case you get caught out at a time when sunscreen won't do any good.
- Aerodynamic race fit
- Progetto X2 Air Donna chamois
- Giro Air leg grippers
- Reflective elements