Having the right kit for training during the summer is important. Fine mesh jerseys and extremely lightweight bibs aren’t suitable for every rider. Castelli offer a range of apparel that covers almost every condition. The Forza Pro Jersey and Free Aero Race bib shorts are a combination I have been slipping into for fast paced training rides this summer. When it’s hot and I wanted a no fuss, reliable kit to ride and be comfortable in, this combination got it done.
The Free Aero Race bib shorts have been offered since 2007 but continued changes have seen the fit and fabrics refined. The bibs use what Castelli call the Vortex dimpled fabric on the exterior of the legs. It’s meant to provide a slight aero advantage. The bibs are held in place using a mesh grip fabric on the cuffs with the rest being made from Castelli’s Forza fabric which provides a comfortable and snug fit.
The bibs offer minimal bunching at the hips, light and breathable fabrics, and a performance fit that stays comfortable for long days in the saddle. On hard rides when I want nothing to worry about, these are the bibs I often reach for. The flat lock stitching ensures the seams don’t rub against the skin while Castelli’s Progetto X2 Air chamois is one of my favourites. It’s light and continues to be comfortable ride after ride.
The Forza Pro Jersey is primarily made from the same Lycra fabric found on the inner legs of the bib shorts. The jersey evolved from Castelli’s high performance RS Superleggera which offers a snug race fit. The Forza Pro Jersey fits a little looser, something welcome on longer rides and for lounging at the coffee shop post ride. While it may not cut through the wind quite as efficiently with a little bit of extra fabric, the comfort gained is worth the trade off-on a training ride.
Silicon grippers on the back of the jersey keep the pockets in place. The three pockets have good support even when stuffed with bars and a multi-tool. I really like the cuffs on the sleeves which don’t offer compression but stay nicely in place.
The side panels of the jersey are Castelli’s mesh Prosecco fabric. This offers good breathability. When it was really hot I resorted to unzipping the jersey. If I was about to tackle a long day of climbing, I might look to a lighter weight mesh jersey like the Castelli Climber’s jersey.
The jersey is available in four colour combinations which can be matched with the bib shorts. The light blue combination I had didn’t only feel great but I also thought I looked pretty sharp wearing it. Finally, the Free 9 socks were lightweight ensuring my feet didn’t heat up. With a mesh on the foot and cuff they were comfortable and stayed in place. They are available in five colour combinations.
The Castelli Free Aero Race bib shorts retail for $240 while the Forza Pro Jersey costs $200. The Free 9 socks retail for $17.