Ride tested: Castelli hot-weather gear

Inferno bibs and Climber's 2.0 jersey make a difference in the heat

Castelli's deep catalog can be a bit baffling at first glance, as the Italian company seems to always be exploring new concepts. Sometimes the highly specialized products are brilliant; sometimes they answer questions no one asked.

For hot-weather riding, I've found the Climber's 2.0 Jersey to be tremendous, and the Inferno Bib Shorts to be okay, but more trouble than they're worth. (Read: Applying sunscreen underneath your bibs? No thanks.)

An ideal jersey with a misleading name

The £80 / $129 Climber's 2.0 Jersey should be called the Damn, It's Hot Out Jersey. Sure, it's ultra-lightweight at 83g for a large, but its ultra-porous construction is a boon to anyone who rides in toasty weather, even if you never climb more than a curb.

Patterned off a recent Castelli aero jersey, The Climber's 2.0 has relatively longish sleeves that stay in place with a breathable edge made of light, mesh fabric — no silicone or constricting elastic here.

Castelli claims the jersey is aerodynamically fast, and with its skinsuit-like fit, I find that believable. 

The Climber's 2.0 Jersey sleeves stay in place without squeezing or any silicone
The Climber's 2.0 Jersey sleeves stay in place without squeezing or any silicone

But the main draw of the Climber's 2.0 is how it feels like you're barely wearing a jersey at all. The light, porous weave material on the chest and arms is a night-and-day difference from your standard jersey. As soon as you start rolling down the road you feel the air blowing through.

And, very much unlike some of Castelli's early hot-weather jerseys, such as the Ultraleggera, the Climber's 2.0 functions like a normal jersey in terms of the zipper and pockets.

Drop your car keys in a pocket of the Ultraleggera and it would stretch and sag like a bowling ball in panty hose. The pockets on the Climber's 2.0 work like any other jersey.

While Castelli's super flyweight Ultraleggera jersey a few years ago had super-saggy pockets, the Climber's jerseys offer standard carrying capacity
While Castelli's super flyweight Ultraleggera jersey a few years ago had super-saggy pockets, the Climber's jerseys offer standard carrying capacity

The back material has a claimed UPF 16 protection with a tighter mesh than on the front. Unlike my polka-dot-sunburn experience with the Inferno bibs, I have not experienced any sunburn through the thin jersey. 

The Climber's 2.0 also comes in two darker colors, which I don't really understand for a hot-weather jersey. The light grey jersey I tested is probably the sweet spot for a relatively cooler color that doesn't show stains as easily as a pure white option.

The thin checkerboard material on the chest is nearly see-through, but feels good when riding in the heat
The thin checkerboard material on the chest is nearly see-through, but feels good when riding in the heat

Inferno bibs deliver world's goofiest sunburn

Castelli is billing its Inferno bib shorts as the ultimate for hot-weather riding, and they certainly have a few good things going for them. 

The mesh-like leg gripper is similar to the sleeve edges on the Climber's 2.0 except much longer. It works really well, keeping the legs in place and being more breathable in that area than any other type of gripper I have ever used. Castelli calls this GIRO Air, and you can also find it on the Free Aero Race bib shorts.

Speaking of the Free Aero, those bibs are a little lighter at 178g compared to the Inferno's 188g, with the same GIRO Air leg grippers and the same Progetto X2 Air chamois. 

The wide, mesh leg bands keep the legs in place without silicone. The perforated legs let more air and sun hit the skin; use sunscreen or you'll end up with a ridiculous dotted sunburn
The wide, mesh leg bands keep the legs in place without silicone. The perforated legs let more air and sun hit the skin; use sunscreen or you'll end up with a ridiculous dotted sunburn

The Inferno has two patches on the tops of the thighs that contain titanium dioxide, which Castelli claims reflects UV rays and thus keeps you cooler. I don't think I could feel a difference from regular white Lycra.

Similarly, I don't think I could feel any cooler from all the many perforations along the sides and hips of the Infernos. You know what I could feel, though? The sunburn I got on my thighs and hips — dozens and dozens of little red dots. 

The Inferno bibs are quite comfortable on the bike, but for my money, I'd go with the excellent Free Aero Race for $199 / £140 instead of the Inferno at  $229 / £125. 

Now that is a silly sunburn
Now that is a silly sunburn

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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