PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Castelli Climbers 2.0 Jersey & Inferno Bibshorts Reviewed

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Castelli Climbers 2.0 Jersey & Inferno Bibshorts Reviewed
Designed for going uphill but also excellent for hot rides, the Castelli Climber's 2.0 jersey and Inferno bibshorts have proven worthy accomplices to my summer exploits. Here's my full review, with a long-term look at the bibshorts.

Record hot days this summer at PEZ HQ has meant optimal conditions for testing the kind of hot weather gear normally reserved for PEZ-Tech Charles M. down in Phoenix.  We might still be 10-15C degrees cooler than the southern desert - but man it sure feels hot for these parts.  Humid too.  I've logged more than a few days in Castelli's designed-for-the-hot-rides Climber's 2.0 jersey and Inferno bibshorts, so here's my review...

 

Let's start with the Climbers 2.0 Jersey - $129.99
As you might expect in a garment with the word "climbers" in the name, this one is made to be light, since no one wanting to go uphill fast wants to carry any more weight than is absolutely necessary.  But in building a jersey that weighs just 108 grams, the inherent lightness of the fabrics also makes it well suited to wearing in really hot weather - at least in this case.



The cut of the Climber's 2.0 jersey is similar to the Aero race 5.1 jersey I tested here.  I'm wearing a size Medium in the pics above, and for my 137lbs, the fit was snug without being restrictive, but given the lightness and stretch of the fabric, I will often fit a size Small in Castelli as well.  Another point - for me at least - on a jersey designed to wear in hot conditions - I really don't mind a slightly less restrictive fit, since I'm more interested in staying cool.



Construction uses three different fabrics in a raglan cut - and every part of it is made to be light.  First off - as a climber's jersey, it's all about reducing weight (I'll reiterate that it weighs just 108 grams) - since no racer worth his salt wants to carry anything more than absolutely necessary up the mountain.  You can chuck the bottles, pitch the bars and empty your pockets, but you gotta finish with a race number on your back and that means the jersey stays on.  So starting with one that's as light as possible makes a lot of sense.



Of note is a complete absence of silicon grippers - anywhere (see for yourself in that inside-out pic above).  A lot of designs will use silicon grippers to hold sleeve cuffs or waist-bands in place, but the problem is that they can also hold things in the wrong places.  So another (and I think better design philosophy) is to use fabrics and cuts that naturally fall where they should - so sleeve cuffs and waist bands won't ride up when in use.  And that's what Castelli does with the Climber's 2.0 jersey.


The inside of the jersey shows off the three diff fabrics for the front, back, and sleeve cuffs.

The front and shoulders are made of  a 75 g/m2 Flusso 3D fabric to reduce weight and help moisture management- the large honeycomb pattern allows air in and out, while simultaneously pulling sweat away from your skin.  The back is made of a Strada Pro 3D fabric to provide support to pockets and UPF 16 protection - it's a slightly smaller honeycomb weave pattern than the front, and didn't seem as stretchy - hence the use in back to keep stuffed pockets from sagging down to your saddle.



The collar is very low cut - again it's all about keeping cool and reducing the amount of your body covered by fabric.  And that honey-combed pattern of the front and side fabrics also serves to break up the air flow passing around the body - which will save you a few watts in pedalling effort.

1.
One thing about super light fabrics is how they last in daily use - so asking about durability is a fair question.  I went to the source - Castelli's head product guru Steve Smith for his take:
"The pros go through product pretty fast but the durability we’ve seen from the Climber’s is quite good considering the minimalist nature of the garment. You want to be careful in the wash that it doesn’t come in contact with velcro that can pull the yarns, and if you race a full season of pinning numbers to the back it’ll show some wear and tear, but overall it holds up better than many jerseys weighing substantially more."

The Flusso 3D fabric on the front features mesh weave, designed to both wick moisture away from the body, and allow lots of air to pass through it which keeps you cooler, and helps the fabric dry faster.

I've worn mine several times, and always wash my cycling kit after each wear - so I've had my eye on the material.  I also make a point to wash jerseys inside-out, and fully zipped to reduce the abrasions caused by open zippers in the wash.  After 2 months of pretty constant use, I've noticed a very small amount of pilling on the collar edge - most likely caused by constant contact with my beard / 5 o'clock shadow.  The rest of the fabric however, still looks like new - and that goes for the stitching and seams as well.

I've gotten a lot more wear out if this jersey than I expected, and anyone who likes light weight garments that should check this one out.  The $129 price point is quite reasonable too - so I'm scoring this one high on the value-meter.

• See more info at the Castelli website here

• Check prices at Amazon.com here.

 

Inferno Bibs ($229.99) - One Year Later
I first started wearing these just over a year ago (read my original review here) - and as the lightest weight and most vented bib shorts I own, they became a go-to for my winter of indoor riding.  So this summer, when the Climber's jersey arrived - I paired it up with the Inferno bibs for what's now the coolest combo (temperature-wise) of kit I have.



Every piece of fabric here has been chosen with purpose in mind, and with 4 different fabrics in the short body alone (plus two others for the straps, it's clear Castelli's main intention here was ventilation performance.



Starting at the bottom - the leg grippers are made from a GiroAir fabric that's a very light weave, brushed with silicon to enhance grip - while the high stretch and more open weave pattern allow for three inches of breathability that holds the shorts in place.

Moving up - the front panels on the front of the legs "were chosen because it’s open enough to let additional air flow through yet gives enough coverage to protect from the sun. We only used it there instead of the entire front because it’s too transparent to use in other areas."- says Castelli's Steve Smith.

The main body panel - front and back is a slightly higher compression fabric to give the shorts structure, and it's woven black (vs white that has been dyed), so it also gives the best coverage for your privates.

And to quote myself from my original review: "The side panels are a light perforated poly, who's main function is to let hot air out and cool drying air in.  But even better is that the white fabric is sublimated with a special black that actually reflects ultraviolet light rays to helps keep you cooler. "

Steve continues: "The rest of the short is all polyester based fabrics that are sublimated black but the base fabric is white which is good at both reflecting heat and giving high UPF protection relative to the weight or coverage. However these polyester fabrics have much lower abrasion resistance so we’ve done the seat panel in a dual layer nylon/polyester fabric. The nylon side is in contact with the saddle for good durability, while the polyester on the inside helps move moisture away from the body."



The combo of light weight fabrics also makes this one very comfortable short - and the design and cut makes it well fitting - so even after a lot of use, I've not seen the garment change shape, or sag  - it still fits the way it did when new.

One area of wear I have seen is at the top of the side panels - where the contact with my jersey and natural movement of the fabrics against each other while pedalling has caused a very small amount of wear along some of the perforations.  None of these have become show stoppers - or are even visible to the untrained eye, but in the interest of journalistic integrity, are worth noting.



The chamois is Castelli's now famous Progetto X2, with a seamless cover on the skin side, and varied pad thickness to go where you need it most, and not where you don't.



The mesh back comes with a nifty pouch for your race radio, tunes, or even an emergency gel.



 

Read below for my original INFERNO BIB SHORT review:

Trying to get the goods on bibshorts most often comes down to how comfortable are they - and it's easy for everyone to claim their bibs are the most comfortable - but ultimately the only opinion that matters is yours. Even as a guy who's tried literally dozens of different brands and models of bibs over the years, I'm only able to report my own experience, and as none of us can ever assume to know or understand what another person's experience is really like, well... you'll just have to trust whatever I say.

castelli16-infernobibs-full

But... With a little help form some hopefully helpful photos to illustrate, and the fact that yes, I have tried literally dozens of different brands and models of bibs over the years, well, my range of experience gives me some pretty good cred when it comes to kit.

The Inferno bibs by Castelli are a great bib for riding in the heat. Light weight, comfort, and thoughtful design all brought together on a sewing machine operated by a real person make 'em worth a look if hot days are part of your local weather patterns.

castelli16-infernobibs-inside

They're made from six different fabrics - which may seem like overkill in this day of multi-stretch lycra - but the whole point of these bibs is to keep you as cool as possible, and Castelli says the best way to do that is apply the best fabrics for the job in specific areas of the bib - and because each part of the bib plays a different role, it makes some sense to assign the best fabric for each job.

castelli16-infernobibs-leg

The leg bands are a very light and stretchy mesh that is super breathable - they're about three inches tall, and the inside is brushed with a tiny amount of silicon on the threads so they stay in place on your legs. The large mesh weave of the fabric allows plenty of air through though, os you'd never know there's silicon present. The material is also very thin - so much so that of you have espcially huge quads, you might notice a small amount of transparency at the leg bands.

The side panels are a light perforated poly, who's main function is to let hot air out and cool drying air in.  But even better is that the white fabric is sublimated with a special black that actually reflects ultraviolet light rays to helps keep you cooler. There are two heavier-gauge lycra panels inside the thighs that provide structure to balance the lighter side panels, and also some durability where you're likely to rub against the saddle.

castelli16-infernobibs-pocket

The waist and back panels are a more traditional looking lycra to offer a decent balance of light weight, breathability, and structure. You could make an even even lighter weight set of bibs, but it would fall apart in one ride, and would do nothing to hold your boys in place. No one wants to see either of those things. At the other end of the scale, you could use lycras that hold secure, compress and protect you for a Game of Thrones-style battle, but breathability and comfort go out the window.

The upper back and straps are a perforated mesh that does a good job of letting air flow through, and the there's a pocket for your race radio as well.

The chamois is sewn to a more durable mesh weave to handle the abrasions from constant pedalling and contact with the saddle.

castelli16-infernobibs-chamois

The chamois is Castelli's Progetto X2 Air - a long time standard that has seen 17 updates since it was introduced in 2010.  It features multi-density foam (Castelli actually machines foam out of a single foam layer to create the densities (6mm, 9mm, 12mm, and 15mm thicknesses at different parts. which makes more sense than other brands who use heat to compress foam into different densities, but lose the ability to manager moisture and transfer air in place you most want it. My favorite part of this chamois is the smooth, dimpled and seamless layer that sits against your skin - this just makes so much sense in helping the pad find the best place to function between the rider and the saddle, and offer less friction than chamois that run this in reverse or have seams.

Along with the Aero Race 5.1 jersey, I've been getting a lot of use from these at my local spin class. Summer's taking its time arriving, so the hottest place I'm riding is in that gym, and these bibs have proven the coolest and most comfortable pair of bibs I have (in a drawer that is packed with about 30 different kinds of bibs). The mediums fit me well (135lbs and a 30 inch waist), although the leg length is shorter than a lot of other brands offer in a size medium. I'll keep my eye on the lighter fabrics for durability, and update this review in a few months.

• See more of the Inferno Bibshort here.
• Check Castelli Inferno Bib Shorts PRICES Here

 

 

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