No bibs required.
After an additional cycle of R&D, Castelli has reshaped the aerodynamic platform of the Free Aero Shorts into a women's-specific design. Women's-specific shorts tend to carry certain expectations and, without a doubt, the most crucial of these is a bib-free option. While opinions at Competitive are divided, plenty of us feel that bibs are primarily an androcentric design. By omitting them here, Castelli gives the lady racer the option to enjoy an aerodynamic advantage without the cycling world's version of the jacket-and-tie requirement for entry.
Like its bibbed counterpart, the Free Aero 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 Vortex fabric's 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. 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 use the women's version the beloved Progetto X2 Air Seat Pad, which returns from last 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.
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 the hell 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 during the twilight criteriums of late summer or early morning training rides in spring.
- Progetto X2 chamois
- Dimpled fabrics to control airflow
- Giro3 grippers