Bib-free wind dodging.
Earlier models of Castelli's Free Aero Race Shorts had the same effect on summer kit as the revolutionary Gabba jerseys had on winter tops, completely re-writing the script of what cycling clothing can — and should — do. With this new model, Castelli has not only made significant advances in moisture management, compression, and aerodynamics, it's also brought a bib-free model to those cyclists who prefer an unrestricted fit.
Like its bibbed brethren, 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 across the shorts' outer plane. 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.
The shorts also keep the beloved Progetto X2 Air Seat Pad, which returns from last year's version 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.
Those may be the only returning features of the previous model — not even the materials used were safe from Castelli's obsessive need to tinker. The seat and front of the shorts both feature fabrics designed for durability and cooling breathability, respectively, and the entire body is 30% Lycra for a fit that strikes a balance between compression and unrestrictive movement.
Last year's model featured Castelli's upgraded Giro3 integrated grip bands at the hem, but it shouldn't surprise you at this point that Castelli couldn't leave well enough alone, upgrading these yet again. 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.
The lower mass means 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. For low-light situations when UV damage isn't an issue, the shorts also incorporate some reflective elements to help keep you visible.
- Aerodynamic race fit
- Progetto X2 Air chamois
- Giro Air leg grippers
- Reflective elements