Castelli has for many years now brought design concepts to the hands of the discerning cyclist, whether that’s road or gravel bike riders. The female tailoring of the Castelli Polare W Bibtights is good news for women riders, and premium women's features allow Castelli to set a benchmark for the best gravel bike clothing.
With winter only just leaving us here in the UK, it’s important to wear the right clothing to keep you as dry and comfortable as possible during your ride. When considering women's winter bib tights, there are factors such they are weatherproof enough or do they have enough level of padding to accommodate longer rides. It’s finding the right balance to meet your own needs. And of course, layering up with the best base layers and MTB jackets.
Design and specifications
These tights have an abundance of features and technology in them, and it’s no wonder they have been the best bib tights I have ever worn in the winter. The most noticeable feel is the material. Instantly, they ooze with performance fabrics, and the Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper X-Fast technology on the front will keep the chilly bite in the air outside.
The rear area is protected by water-resistant splash-proof Nano Flex G3 technology. This also features on the lower legs where spray from wet roads is more likely to hit the body. While the tights are already loaded to the max with impressive blended fabric technology, the fleece-backed Thermoflex construction is another extra piece to its premium performance featuring on the back of the thigh for stretch and warmth.
The stretchy bib straps are made using a mesh and, as a result, ensure better breathability. A strategically padded chamois lining has specific zones where the thickness changes with more pronounced protection where it's most needed. The seat pad is called Kiss Air2 Donna and has less bulk and more cushioning. Sometimes less is more, and the design of this chamois is testament to that.
There are zips on the ankle area, allowing for easier on and off and aiding in taking them off quicker and more conveniently. The zips are also useful to aid layering up with additional socks once the tights are on.
For low visibility, there are reflective strips on both the front and the back of the leg for cycling in bad weather conditions, which comes hand-in-hand with winter riding where there may be a rain storm or fog.
When first putting these tight on they felt soft next to my skin and were easy to pull on. I found that I unzipped at the ankle prior to putting on, this took away any unnecessary effort in pulling them over my feet. The ankle zip is useful for adding thick or extra socks on afterwards. Zipping the ankle up, I found it a little tight towards the end but only when I had thick socks on. However, I'd only wear these tights when the weather is typically minus degrees C outside, and I would normally run two pairs of socks too.
With my legs being on the petite end of the leggy scale, the leg length is too long for me. This is online noticeable on the knee area as the material bunches up there, and I can actually overlap the material to stop the crinkled look. The other option is to fold them over at the ankle. Other than the long length, the overall fit is great. The bib straps slip over my shoulders without any struggle and don’t pull down on my shoulders. There is enough stretch not to restrict movement while standing, and very comfortable while in the riding position, and they don't move and slip out of place either. Even though they are too long for me, this didn’t affect the fit once the straps were pulled over my shoulders.
The GTX Windstopper material was absolutely ideal for the cold windy damp weather I used them in. It was below zero outside while I was testing and I felt very protected from the outside elements. So much so, that the next time I went out cycling I looked forward to wearing these tights knowing how comfortable I will be in cold conditions. The material is very smooth to the touch almost like neoprene, and there are zones where the material is different, whether more stretchy or not as thick depending on its location. All materials worked well together with comfort, performance and weather defence being priorities.
Chamois padding worked well and used the tights for both short journeys and longer rides in mixed weather conditions. I found the padding was positioned in the correct areas where it was in contact with my body. Things got a little uncomfortable after a few hours of riding as the padding is quite thick. It’s not bulky but it became evident it was there the longer I sat on the saddle. There wasn't any chafing or irritation anywhere as I pedaled, and with some chamois cream this would eliminate that issue.
The Castelli Polare W Bibtights give a good level of weather protection with soft next to skin performance materials and features for convenience and comfort, but they come at a high price point. Lots of serious design elements that ensure comfort is optimized while cycling in the cold, damp weather. Xtreme shielding from the wind and road/trail spray and a women’s specific chamois that delivers comfort. The ankle zips are useful for layering over socks with ease and the only downside is the lack of pocket storage. Gorewear’s Ability Thermo Bib Tights provide the same level of weather protection as well as visibility and the additional feature for easy bio breaks at a much lower price of £160.
Tech specs: Castelli Polare W Bibtights
- Price: $209.99 / £199.00 / €102.51
- Materials: 100% Polyester. Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper
- Colours: Black
- Sizes: UK XS to UK XL