Castelli just launched the Premio Black Bib Short, which it claims to be its most comfortable performance shorts for long-distance riding. According to the Italian brand, these have been a decade in the making, with fabric technology finally catching up to deliver on an idea it developed back in 2010.
Check out our Castelli Premio Black Bib Short first look review.
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Ten years in the making
10 years ago, Castelli began to develop integrated leg grippers made from a single piece of fabric, which didn’t require the addition of silicone and therefore saving weight. The gripper didn’t grip enough and the fabric, when stretched, left little to the imagination, earning it the moniker BodyPaint. A decade on, fabric technology has finally caught up, and Castelli’s project comes full circle with the Premio Black.
The Premio Black builds on the success of last summer’s Superleggera Bib Short — a hot weather-focused garment developed for Ineos Grenadiers and favoured by Egan Bernal — taking the engineered woven fabric technology and making it suitable for all weather conditions. As a result, the Premio Black is a slightly heavier version of the Superleggera designed to offer more muscle support and long-distance comfort, while delivering the same performance in a multitude of climates: cooling and moisture-wicking in the heat, and resistance to windchill in the cold.
Engineered woven fabric
The Premio Black Bib Shorts are constructed from a state of the art engineered stretch-woven fabric created exclusively for Castelli. Compared to traditional knit fabric, the naturally stretchy material that most cycling shorts are made from, woven fabric is much lighter and thinner, and is claimed to carry less bulk while providing the same amount of compression and coverage, effectively acting as a second skin.
According to Castelli, the engineered weave makes it possible to adjust the structure of the fabric to achieve a body-mapped garment with multiple densities within a singular panel of material, tailoring it to the body and its specific needs.
This translates to more compression and support around the hips to keep the chamois in place, and a more lightweight and breathable fabric around the thighs with medium compression. Lycra fibre is blended into the raw-cut leg ending in a specific weave that brings the rubberised yarns to the inner surface, intended to act as a flat grip without the need for silicone.
Castelli claims that the woven fabric will stay drier than traditional knit, since there’s less of it, while withstanding a wider temperature range. According to the brand, the tight weave of the fabric stops the wind from penetrating, helping to keep the body warm in cooler temperatures, while its thinness allows moisture to evaporate closer to the skin, keeping it cool in hotter weather.
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Less is more
The Premio Black range resulted from years of exploring different ways to reduce weight in bib shorts, according to Castelli. The shorts are constructed from three panels, significantly fewer than most cycling shorts that are often made from up to 10 panels of fabric. The brand’s intention was to create a lightweight pair of bib shorts that you’ll barely notice wearing, relying firmly on the adage that ‘less is more’.
Moving on from the woven fabric, this minimalist approach can be seen in other areas of the shorts as well, from the soft perforated back panel that incorporates no-sew bonding for minimised seams and chafing, to the seamless waistband that relies upon flat-edge elastic for increased stretch and comfort. Furthermore, the bib straps are designed to cover as little of the torso as possible to help with cooling, while the reinforcement tabs at the front of the shoulder keep the straps from bunching.
Progetto X² Air Seamless chamois
Having stated explicitly that the Premio Black Bib Short is designed for long-distance comfort, we’d be remiss not to mention the brand new Progetto X² Air Seamless chamois at the centre of it all. In order to provide maximum comfort, Castelli’s insert is made from two separate components designed for separate functions that complement each other, and which use dual-density foams to provide strategic support where it’s needed most.
The uppermost section, which the brand dubs the Skin Care Layer, sits next to the skin and is soft and stretchy, designed to move with the skin to avoid rubbing and irritation. Underneath is the Cushioning Layer, which takes a shape similar to a bike saddle and is designed to provide more progressive cushioning. According to Castelli, both parts of the Progetto X² Air Seamless chamois are produced with a 3D-forming process that results in infinitely variable thickness, as opposed to the traditional punch and die that creates more pronounced layering of inserts seen elsewhere.
Castelli Premio Black Bib Shorts: price, spec and availability
Castelli’s Premio Black Bib Shorts are available in men’s and women’s models, which incorporate the same technology and comfort measures, but were designed independently of each other from the ground up to suit specific needs and provide the ideal fit for different anatomies.
The chamois is completely different for men and women, the men’s bib short has longer legs (7cm, as opposed to the 6cm women’s shorts), and the women’s model has slightly wider straps, allowing them to sit flat against a more curved torso. Women also have the option of waist shorts, if nature breaks are a high priority.
- Castelli Premio Black Men’s Bib Short: £220.00 / €229.95 / $259.99 / A$369.00
- Castelli Premio Black Women’s Bib Short: £200.00 / €229.95 / $259.99 / A$349.00
- Castelli Premio Black Women’s Waist Short: £180.00 / €199.95 / $239.99 / A$299.00
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Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.
Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall.
Height: 156cm (5'2")
Rides: Liv Devote, Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Whyte Victoria, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike
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