Castelli Aero Race
A review of the Castelli Aero Race 4 Bibs and Aero Race 6.0 Jersey.
If there’s anything I see a lot of, it’s cycling kits. There are tons of great brands, and there are updates at least once a year. It would be easy to get jaded, and yet, I am continually blown away by how innovative and how much better the new stuff is. It’s not to say you have to upgrade constantly, but when Castelli marketing says “the updated Progetto X2 Air seamless seat pad features the softest surface fabric you’ve ever felt in a seat pad”, it’s not a lie to sell you new stuff. The 2019 Castelli Aero Race 4 bibs really do have the softest chamois I’ve personally ever experienced, and the whole kit really does feel fantastic.
When you are wearing the whole kit, the chamois is definitely the attention grabber. It has a fleece material that feels fantastic against your skin and does a great job for long hours in the saddle. In terms of the overall impression of the kit, though, the headline feature is that it’s an aero kit, first and foremost.
Castelli has spent considerable time with CFD analysis to really optimise every detail. There are details all over, such as dimples on the legs to optimise air flow, that attempt to make the Aero Race 4 bibs and the Aero Race 6.0 jersey the absolute fastest they can be without being a full speed suit. The most noticeable detail for me, in terms of the aero optimisation, is the length of the legs and arms. The legs are definitely longer than traditional, however, it’s not excessive. And it’s something I’ve become used to from most modern cycling kits.
The arms, on the other hand, have gone a bit longer than even other aero jerseys from competing brands. For me, that means they easily touch my elbows. I have to be careful to pull the sleeves all the way on, or they can fall into the crease of the elbow. It’s actually very comfortable, especially as the Velocity Rev2 fabric that Castelli chose for the front and sleeve is so soft and silky. It is silky and comfortable and yet there’s also tons of stretch and strength.
In the past, Castelli jerseys haven’t been the best at staying in place at the bottom front. But this year, it doesn’t budge. There’s no need to continually pull it down at every stop, and there is a clever design to the drop tail as well. It’s something I recognise from the Castelli Perfetto jersey, although in this use, it’s much more subtle and less about keeping mud off the chamois. What it does do is allow for a thicker band of elastic and silicone where it needs to be. It also adds more length to the pockets while making the jersey long enough when you are in a really aggressive position.
If you’ve ridden with other aero jerseys, the neckline isn’t going to be a surprise here. It’s low and minimal, but because of the excellent fabric choice, it feels great without any sense of constriction. The comfort of the neckline is helped further by a flap under the zipper, under the upper portion of the jersey. This protects your skin from any irritation related to the zipper. Aside from that, though, the zipper is actually a bit of a departure from many aero jersey designs. It still features the typical fabric along both edges to shield it from the wind, but it’s a much thicker, substantial zipper than you’ll find on many aero jerseys. Castelli seems to have been able to balance wind resistance with a much more usable – especially with one hand – zipper choice. This is a welcome departure from the norm.
While the stand out feature of the Aero Race 4 bibs is really the feel of the chamois, there are tons of other great features of note. I find the length to be just perfect and the fit around the quad is spot on. There’s not any of the gap I sometimes get with other brands. While I’m sure this is great for aerodynamics, it more importantly means a very comfortable fit. As is to be expected with an aero optimised bib short, there is no distinct grip section at the bottom of the bibs as you’d find on a more traditional bib design. Instead there is a wide section of fabric with silicone grips on the interior. What I really like about these, is that Castelli has chosen to run the silicone grips vertically rather than horizontally. This is an innovative design, and it allows for more silicone without making the bibs difficult to get on.
Once you move up to the suspenders, you’ll find a vertically arranged mesh that does a great job providing venting while also keeping enough structure. Something that isn’t unique to the Aero Race 4 bibs, but I always appreciate from Castelli, is the cut in the front. It’s high enough so as not to interfere with the waistline of the jersey, while still allowing accessibility for nature breaks. It also does a great job of not highlighting the male anatomy. This has been a bit of a laughline in recent conversations, but it’s my preference not to draw attention to the crotch of my bibs, and Castelli has continued that trend with these bibs.
The bottom line is that the Castelli Aero Race 4 bibs and Aero Race 6.0 jersey is a significant upgrade from last year. The bibs weigh in at 172 grams with an MSRP of $199.99, and the Aero Race 6.0 is 159 grams with an MSRP of $179.99. The bibs do have a few colour options that are, somewhat confusingly, listed as different products on the Castelli website. No matter what you choose, they are all the same product, but you can get them with variations in logos and colours. Either way, these bibs are so good, I’m actually hoarding an extra set just in case something happens to one of the sets. Without a doubt, these will be the bibs I bring with me on all my big rides this summer.