Castelli built the Free Aero Race Team Bib Shorts for one functional purpose: to smooth out the air. The Team designation implies a difference though, and that difference is the addition of design elements that are so subtle that they may as well only be implied, too. It's got a splash of Italian flair, including Castelli's iconic red as an underscore to stress the leg bands' low-contrast branding, but the flashiest element of the kit remains the literally flashy reflective patches on the backs of the legs. The graphical restraint means the shorts operate as smoothly on the eyes as they do in the wind.
Just like the rest of its family tree, the Free Aero Race's Team version is 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.
The bibs' wide open, non-stifling design also returns from the previous model, but the bibs 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 the trophy on the podium.
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 has upgraded 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.
- Race-specific cycling shorts with a bit of aesthetic flair
- Dimpled side panels to reduce wind drag
- Lycra content provides light compression and streamlines fit
- Carré yolk bib straps provide hem-less comfort on your shoulders
- Leg grippers and chamois increase comfort
- Reflective accents for late returns from evening criteriums