No stranger to the demands of road cycling, Castelli has long been regarded as one of the premiere kit makers on the market. With roots going all the way back to 1876, Castelli has been tailoring fine clothing for hundreds of years and cycling apparel since the 1910’s. No joke. That red scorpion has quite a lot of stories to tell and the reasonably-priced Castelli Competizione Bib Shorts just might be the ideal gateway to the brand.
Castelli Competizione Bib Shorts Features:
- Vortex panels on top/front for breathability
- Affinity Pro Lycra on backside for compression and rebound
- Features the KISS Air2 chamois
- Legs are finished with Giro4 leg grippers
- Has a 10″ inseam
- Small reflective tabs
- Race fit
- Colors: Black (tested), Dark Grey, Military Green & Savile Blue
- MSRP: $129.99
Competizione on the road and gravel
I like to give equal treatment to all my cycling kits, so the Castelli Competizione Bib Shorts were pushed to the limits on both gravel and road rides for several months. At $129.99, there are only one pair less expensive ($99 Entrata Bib Shorts), but there’s a lot packed into the heart of the Competizione’s that make these stand out at that price point. Truthfully, you can get a NeoPro kit for less than just these bib shorts, but these are more comfortable overall and carry that sexy red scorpion logo. Don’t underestimate Scorpy!
The majority of my initial testing was done on mixed terrain rides. I have several local loops that are about 60% gravel and singletrack and 40% road. That’s where I’ve ridden the Competizione Bib Shorts aboard the 3T Exploro RaceMax with a Bontrager Verse Elite 142 and Ventum GS1 with Fizik Terra Argo X5. While gravel riding does generate high-speed saddle impacts, you also spend more time standing and moving around than you do on the road. That up/down riding position initially caused me some issues — mostly due to user error.
What kind of user error do you say? Well, let’s just say that I didn’t properly situate the bibs on either side of the crotch area before heading out. Some of the best bibs I use (Assos Equipe RS S9, Specialized SL) don’t require explicit tucking to keep the man parts in. But, with the Competizione’s, it pays to spend a little time tucking them in to prevent undue impacts when returning to the saddle after a standing effort. Whatever you need to do — tuck and pull, do leg kicks, karate — just get your crotch area situated. Once I nailed that routine, my nether regions have been exponentially happier.
Speaking of the backside, the greatest money-saving tactic is to sew in a less-expensive chamois. The KISS Air2 is a dual-density unit and breathes well. The top is outfitted with large dimples for added air movement and stitched in place with flat seams. It’s nothing to write home about, but does the job for the most part. On long, sustained climbs, I did tend to get a little more discomfort, but standing efforts did a lot to alleviate that. If you’re into all-day rides, you’ll want to invest in something with a little better chamois.
The mesh uppers are pretty good. I have worn these both with and without a sleeveless base layer. Chaffing is minimal after a long gravel ride sans base layer. The straps don’t ever feel restrictive and simply move with you. I’ve worn then exclusively with the Castelli Avanti Jersey for a full $229 kit.
I feel like Castelli knows how to cradle your legs in proper support and compression. There are simply no areas that feel uncomfortable or noticeable during a ride. The leg grippers stay put and everything tends to disappear. I have no issues wearing these for 3-4 consecutive days as well.
As I have moved to the road, where the drone of seated climbing can take its toll, the Competizione Bib Shorts have remained predictably good. The only exception comes after 2000 ft. of seated climbing where you’ll want to stand a bit to restore some comfort. Oh yeah, and those Vortex panels can be downright chilly on cold mornings, so be advised and use these for warm weather.
Fit: I’m 5′ 11″ and 170 lbs. and wore the size Large (as I do in all Castelli products).
- Leg grippers keep everything in place
- Good mixture of high-end fabrics
- Good fit and compression that supports road and gravel riding
- Comfortable, stretchy uppers
- Almost 100% flat-lock seams for comfort
- Stretches easily for nature breaks
- Requires real intent to get the crotch area properly situated
- There are better chamois options for all-day rides
- Could be a touch longer for my tastes
The Bottom Line: Castelli Competizione Bib Shorts
It’s a well established fact that Castelli is one of the most regarded cycling brands on the market. That red scorpion has been an object of desire for many-a-cyclist. Getting into a full Castelli kit is more affordable than you might think and the Competizione Bib shorts perform quite well for their $129 price point. Of course, some corners were cut to make this price (the chamois), but otherwise, the fabrics and fit are top-notch.
Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com