Sometimes you just want to forget about saving money and look at the best cycling gear on the market. The Castelli Aero Race cycling shorts fall into that category.
Castelli, an Italian based pro-cycling company, has been one of the top leaders in the industry since its inception in 1974. They were the first company to sell Lycra cycling shorts, colored shorts, sublimation printed jerseys, synthetic winter clothing, and the first to sell an anatomic seat pad. Maurizio Castelli’s vision was to be at the forefront of technology, performance, and design.
The Castelli Aero Race cycling shorts live up to the innovative company’s vision. Introduced in 2007, these shorts have been a mainstay in the cycling world for more than a decade. The accolades are many, including earning a spot on our own list of Best Cycling Shorts. Cycling Plus magazine has had a head-to-head test of the top cycling shorts from 18 different manufacturers, and the Castelli Free Aero Race cycling short for men was named the “absolute best” — a nice vote of confidence in addition to all the anecdotes from hardcore cyclists. At a steep $170-$200, they better be the best.
The Castelli Aero Race comes in standard shorts or bib shorts. The bib shorts are a little more expensive—they range from $200-$240. The bib shorts keep your chest free to avoid overheating. However, both shorts are exceptional in the same way. At the end of the day, it’s just about your individual preference (and budget). We were meticulous with our testing. We figured if we were going to pay $200 for a pair of shorts, that they’d better be the best cycling shorts we ever put on and rode in. And they were. In the Free Aero’s case, you really do get what you pay for—the absolute best.
During field tests, users reported that the Aero Race cycling shorts (both bibs and standard) were very sturdy. Their action micro fabric in the saddle contact area, energia micro fabric on the sides, and breath micro fabric on the font, provided durability, an outstanding stretch, and maximum breathability. Our upper thighs were kept tight, comfortable, and stable. Most of our rides were for 2.5 hours and longer, and the shorts provided optimum comfort and durability for the entire the ride, each time.
The Castelli Aero Race cycling shorts also last for a very long time. One top triathlete reported that his Castellis lasted for 10 years. He said he still wears them. Spending $200 for shorts that last a decade doesn’t sound like a bad investment to us. When you start to think about the upfront cost spread over many years, you start to see why Castelli can get the price they do on these shorts.
Like all cycling shorts, the Castelli Aero Race shorts are fast drying. Throughout all the competitions we tested them in; they seemed to dry quick and maintain a light and firm fit.
The Aero Race’s Progetto X2 Air Chamois provides maximum technology for supreme comfort. The Progetto is constructed in two components, each component is dedicated to enhancing the overall breathability. The shorts are great for hot weather. Many users love the lower cut in the front for cooling. We were hesitant about the lack of leg grippers, but overall they were still very comfortable. We also liked that there aren’t any inner leg seams.
The fabric’s 38% lycra blend provides a comfortable level of compression in the shorts, without creating any pinch points. We find the fabric to be relatively breathable on long, hot rides compared to other, lower-quality shorts.
Like the cheaper Castelli Ergo Tre cycling shorts, the Aero Race features 2 rear reflective inserts which are fantastic for late-night and subprime weather rides. We loved the color matched Giro single-layer gripper, which is a new feature from last year’s design. We also like their red scorpion decal. It’s flashy—but not too much.
We couldn’t find anything wrong with these shorts. And believe us, we tried. We were sure we’d find another pair of cheaper shorts that could compete with the pricy Free Aero Race, but we couldn’t. The only thing “negative” we found, if you could call it that, was with their sizing. Castelli is a European-based company. And with European-based companies, you’ll often run into sizing problems. Castelli product sizing is about a full size smaller than typical US sizing and this product is no exception. Order one size up from what you usually wear. If you’re confused about your size, visit Castelli’s website size chart and measure yourself with a tape measurer. The decision of whether to get the bibs or the shorts is completely up to you — we prefer shorts but the bibs tend to be more common on the market today.
Overall, these are some of the best cycling shorts that money can buy, and just may be worth the $200 that Castelli gets for them.