A Prize For Every Rider – The New Castelli Premio Black Bibshort
By Tom Ballard – 25 May 2021
Named ‘Prize’ in Italian, the Castelli Premio Black Bib Short lives up to its billing by delivering outstanding comfort thanks to new fabric technology.
The new Castelli Premio Black Bib Short began its journey with the singular goal of be the brand’s most comfortable performance short ever for long rides – a big ask given the high bar set over decades of development with pro riders – but one the Castelli team was determined to achieve.
Bib Short Backstory
The development story of the Premio Black short goes back to 2010, when Castelli first integrated leg grippers seamlessly to the legs of the brand’s Body Paint shorts. It was a great idea and certainly the future in terms of comfort and aerodynamics but the fabric technology just wasn’t there to do the inspired design justice.
Ten years on, the Superleggera Bibshort pioneered an engineered, stretch-woven fabric for Team Ineos. Thanks to its lightweight comfort and exceptional breathability became the go-to choice for climbers like Egan Bernal when hot days on the biggest cols beckoned.
This sparked another engineering project for Castelli, taking the technology from the Superleggera into a short for all conditions – and all riders who want the freedom to ride all day without discomfort. The quest for the Premio Black was born.
A Magic Material
To create hitherto impossible levels of cosseted comfort with the Premio Black, the team at Castelli focused on one guiding principle during development: that you shouldn’t really notice it at all. This prompted a less-is-more approach to the design, which combines cutting-edge fabric technology with minimalist construction.
Gone is the traditional use of knitted fabric that create a pattern of panels and seams, instead replaced with a single engineered-weave material mixed with 35% Lycra that hugs the body like a second skin. By utilising this state-of-the-art method, up to 10 components of regular shorts are replaced in just three panels. This gives a body-mapped fit that maximises aerodynamics.
The application of the shorts’ engineered fabric is a technical marvel. In another entry to Castelli’s long list of industry-firsts, this magical material allowed the Premio’s designers to modify the structure of the fabric to meet the requirement of each different area of the Premio.
The clever use of the woven material’s properties is no better exemplified than in the grippers at the end of the legs. These 7cm sections on the men’s shorts – 6cm on the women’s – aren’t an extra layer of silicone applied to the surface, but the result of engineering the fabric to bring the Lycra fibres to the inner surface.
The flexibility to dictate the fabric’s properties also means that it can be made thicker or thinner to optimise support, freedom of movement and breathability. Castelli has used this opportunity to lighten up the fabric on the thigh to keep you cooler and provide just the right compression. Meanwhile the material is thicker around the hips for more support and to keep the luxuriously smooth and comfy Progetto X2 Air Seamless seatpad in place.
If you’re worried that different thicknesses of fabric might cause some ‘transparency’ issues when stretched across your derriere, worry not – Castelli has added an extremely light lining lay in the back panel. Castelli says you’ll never notice that it’s there, but the person riding behind you will be grateful.
The woven fabric continues giving when it comes to keeping you comfortable in different temperature ranges, too. The tight weave means less wind comes through in chillier conditions, yet when it’s hot, the thinner fabric means moisture evaporates closer to your skin to aid cooling. This makes the shorts perfect for those long days in the mountains where temperatures change as you climb.
Comfort and cooling are also enhanced by the minimalist elastic bib straps, which are designed to keep your shorts in place while covering as little of the torso as possible. After studying the exact location where straps tend to bunch, Castelli also added bonded labels over the straps in front of the shoulders to ensure they remain lying flat once on. On the back, a broad, super soft perforated panel with no-sew bonding adds support without compromising breathability.
A Lasting Legacy
The woven fabric isn’t a delicate tissue-paper affair. It might be thinner, but it’s denser, more durable than traditional knitted fabrics and extremely abrasion resistant. In line with this durability and Castelli’s affirmation that a short like the Premio Black should last years, nothing less than pristine logos would suffice.
In another novel twist, the hallmark scorpion logos and Rosso Corsa wordmark are actually lasered into the fabric in a sort of etching so they’ll stay looking just as good at the end of your own grand tour as at the beginning. The tone-on-tone colouring only adds to the premium feel too, so you can rock an understated design that looks as great as you feel.
Rather than being an afterthought, the women’s versions of the Premio Black shorts were created from the ground-up alongside the men’s design. Not only were the patterns developed independently to better suit a female anatomy, but the shorter legs are also bang-on trend and look great with any jersey combo.
The women’s Premio Black shorts also utilise a female-specific version of the Progetto X2 Air Seamless pad and wider bib straps to aid comfort across the bust. Or, if you’re not a fan of bib straps at all, there a version without them.
In once again pushing the boundaries of cycling fabric technology, Castelli has created a short that combines sumptuous comfort with muscle-mapping aerodynamics, exceptional cooling and pack-leading durability. In these ways and many more, the Premio Black Bib Short lives up to its name – a prize for any cyclist who wants the length of their ride to be dictated by their biggest goals rather than compromised comfort.