I am prone to hyperbole. You may have got that from some of my reviews but, honestly, those products where I am prone to that kind of outburst are the top of the tree. There may be some hyperbole here because I believe that the Sorpasso bibtights are supernaturally good. They’re also, as tends to happen every February or so, ridiculously cheap for a premium product. Head over to Merlin Cycles and these £140 rrp tights are a spectacular bargain at £79.99. Look, I know that’s still a lot of money and, anecdotally, I know of 4 other users who’ve crashed wearing theirs this winter so they might be cursed as well, but it is a bloody great price for a pair of bibtights. I guess you don’t need to read on, but read on you should.
Oddly, Sorpasso means overtaking. I was surprised by that. I guess the implication is that you’ll be going faster wearing these, the unfair advantage. You might be, because you won’t be at all worried about being cold.
The Sorpasso range is pretty straightforward. There’s a biblong, some bib knickers and a windproof version. In terms of temps the non wind versions are good for 0 to 15 degrees and the wind version -4 to 8 degrees. Sizing is typically Italian, so I need an XL in these at 5ft 10 and 80kg or so. Mine are the blacked out version with very little branding other than some little Scorpione round the back. Castelli rate these as mid range in terms of being windproof, a little lower for waterproofing and almost at the top for thermal insulation and breathability. The windproof version is, obviously, for colder days and if you want waterproofing then go nano. There’s a Polare if you cycle regularly in the deep cold. The thing is, I don’t think any of them are really all that necessary if you cycle mostly in the dry.
The most important feature of any short or tight is the pad and in this case the Progetto X2 Air pad. There are lots of different layers and density going on, a bit of articulation at the rear and the coverage is pretty extensive as well. It’s a great pad, one of the best, bigly. As I finish off this piece I’ve just spent 3 hours in the saddle with zero effect on my ‘regions’ at all. I’ve done 8 hour stints on the same pad in the Aero Race with no adverse effects either. If you want an endurance pad, then this is a great one. I’ve not yet had any stitching come apart and longevity would seem to be very good. Castelli are quite interesting in that they only have a few pads, the X2 in the expensive versions and the Kiss in the cheaper ones. The latter is ok but, personally, I don’t get on with it as well as other mode budget pads.
The Progetto is one of the drier pads as well. Because the outer is independent of the inner it wicks considerably better than a lot of other pads out there. That’s useful in the summer, clearly. But if you spend a lot of time in the saddle in winter it means you don’t get damp and you don’t get cold.
But it’s the roubaix lining of the tights that really makes them work. Castelli have deployed two types of fleecy lining. The black sections are Thermoflex, the red sections Thermoflex Core Due. It’s the red sections that provide the ‘additional warmth’. There’s a slight ‘flaw’ as well in that the red sections show through the tights a bit when you’re pedalling. It’s a weird effect but it is what it is. In the absence of an electron microscope I’ll take Castelli’s word for it that the Thermoflex Code due consists of hollow fibres but I totally accept that hollow fibres are better at retaining heat. These punch considerably above their significant lightness in the warmth stakes.
The bib section is pretty lovely as well. There are two big wide grippers that weigh next to nothing and a nice bit of mesh at the rear. All very sensible and straightforward. There’s no lack of comfort in the shoulder areas. They are an all day tight.
One of the criticisms of the Sorpasso might be that they’re made of a plethora of panels. Generally that’s to be avoided from a comfort and longevity point of view. I have to say that I can’t feel any appreciable difference in the multi panel approach. Actually, that’s not correct, they’re supremely comfortable and I’ll get to that in a bit. There’s no extra seam marks left on your legs after a ride, no irritation at all. The extra panels are needed to pull of the two fleece approach. It also allows Castelli to make that central black strip (below the Castelli above) in a multitude of colours to match your kit including a reflective version. I stuck to black as it’s the new black and goes with everything.
The bottom section is taken care of by a zipper rather than a foot loop. The ankle gripper is a nice tight fitting elastic band with some internal grip. It doesn’t shift at all during the ride. There are reflectives up the back of the calves which is actually a pretty good place for them as your movement on the pedals makes them more noticeable. Of course, if you put overshoes on you will lose much, if not all, of that reflective. So be sure that there’s some on the overshoe as well if you can. If I can be critical it’s that these are not as well endowed in the reflective area as the Lusso Nitelife range.
I’ve been using the Sorpasso range for a few years now. I holed a pair last year when I hit some ice so I’ve been waiting for them to drop in price to get some more. Actually, as I alluded to earlier, quite a few people I know have holed theirs in poor conditions. There are a few things to note. Castelli doesn’t have a crash replacement or repair service. That’s not ideal given that these are within shouting distance of comparable Assos products. But perhaps the most important question is why people are crashing when wearing these? It’s not fate. It’s just that they’re really bloody excellent at low temperatures and, so, being bought and worn more often.
In fact they’re better, IMO, below freezing than just about any other tight I own. That’s unusual. There’s no windproofing. There’s no DWR treatment. So, if it’s cold and wet these may not be ideal. Indeed, if it’s cold get the Lusso or Parentini Shark. But in the dry cold, there’s little to equal them in my view. For something so light, and these are the lightest bibtights I own, that’s pretty impressive.
It’s hard to justify paying £150 for a pair of super light bibtights and, if you were to pick them up in store, you might find that lightness off putting. It suggests a lack of ability. Don’t be fooled by that. They’re excellent. And, for £79.99, they’re a bit of a bargain at the moment.