As soon as I first noticed the new Free Aero RC on our website I immediately contacted the product manager. I had to see the kit. It is not so often that a manufacturer upgrades so many aspects of a product that is already a success. Winner of 3 tours de France, 3 Giro D’italia, 1 Vuelta de Espana, and San Remo, Castelli’s top racing bib shorts has new straps, new leg endings, half the amount of panels, and new colors on the pro version, that now features Quick-Step’s blue-white used by no one less than the reigning world champion Julian Alaphilipe and the “cannonball” Mark Cavendish.
So why is the Free Aero the top-selling product in Castelli’s history and what should you consider before purchasing it at Bike-Discount? That’s what I’ll try to answer on this page, after testing the bib shorts with the matching Jersey, the Aero Race 6.0.
Progetto X² Air Seamless – the high-end seat pad
The Progetto X² Air Seamless is Castelli’s top seat pad. The four-way stretch, seamless skin layer feels soft and smooth and moves with your skin to avoid any friction. Immediately at the first touch you can notice the high quality of the soft top layer’s material, which is also highly breathable and will keep you dry and comfortable even after long hours under the sun. The pad adapts to your body shape, and the multi-density foam with variable thickness keeps the support where it is needed while alleviating the pressure on the sensitive areas that will sit on top of a special perforated viscous padding. The Progetto X² Air Seamless is simply one of the best in the market and will change your body’s contact with the saddle, that will feel like it had been custom made with your shape. After starting your ride, you will forget about the pad completely. Free enough?
Castelli Free Aero RC – the bibshort
To put in Castelli’s words: “We started with the best pad, surrounded by a supportive short and good muscle compression and removed everything else that wasn’t absolutely necessary.” As shown in the pictures below, the result is a minimalist design with the number of panels reduced from 10 to 5, which also reduced the number of seams. The 215 g/m² Forza 2 Fabric has 32% Lycra, and the construction offers great muscle support and compression. The shorts have two reflective stripes on the back and the imposing white scorpion and other logos are stitched or embossed to keep the logos from peeling off or cracking. I’ve washed the bib shorts many times already and the logos are still looking brand new. The new pocket might hold a radio or a small phone, in case you don’t need quick access to it, but it’s especially practical for things you don’t wanna risk falling on the road while getting an energy gel or pulling out the wind jacket from the jersey’s pockets like a document or the coffee/ice cream money.
The leg endings bring a major update. As can be seen in the pictures above, the Free Aero RC has no leg grippers on the laser-cut leg endings. No elastic, no silicon, nothing. Zero. And surprisingly enough, after putting on the bib shorts and stretching the legs the shorts sat in place and stood there for the rest of the ride, a feat that according to Castelli could only be accomplished after intensive testing, involving 28 prototypes. It’s a pretty exciting upgrade that adds comfort and it’s a direct application of the “free” concept. With this bib shorts already being used on the world tour, we might be on the brick of a big concept change. Are competitors gonna copy this trend in 2023? We can only wait and see.
Castelli Free Aero RC – the open-weave straps
The new straps are another highlight and also followed the minimalist/high-tech approach. The open-weave straps are light and allow maximum ventilation, so they won’t get wet and heavy. Despite the open concept they are very strong and hold the shorts up in place very well. The seam with the shorts is optimized at the front, and reinforced at the yoke, with a narrow mesh panel closing the back, making the bibs strong and comfortable.
Castelli Free Aero RC – the size
With my measures “on the fence” between “S” and “M”, I opted for “M”. The result can be seen in the pictures of this post. The kit fits pretty well and it looks very elegant but have I chosen “S” I would have probably profited more from the aero properties of the jersey with better compression from the shorts as well. I opted up, but if you are a racer, you can follow Castelli’s size chart to the risk. A quick measurement of the waist, hip, and inseam and a look at the chart will give you the correct option for your body directly. Easy as that.
The Free Aero RC is definitely my choice for 2022 as it perfectly balances comfort and performance and offers great value for money. But before making your choice it is important to consider that these are racing bib shorts. They are strong, have great aero performance and are being used at the top level of the sport. However if you find yourself opting for a size too off Castelli’s recommendation you might end up with too much fabric folding at the front of the hips, where one of the few seams might cause some discomfort that simply should not be felt. These bib shorts were designed to avoid that. In that case you are probably looking for something else, and might wanna take a look at Castelli’s Premio Black. It has the same pad but a completely different construction, and is focused not in racing but in ultimate comfort. You can find more information about the Premio Black in our shop.
Castelli Aero Race 6.0 – the jersey
Designed for speed using computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing, the Aero Race 6.0 is fast, elegant and very comfortable. The placement of fabric and seams was engineered for performance. On the road, the fabric feels smooth and light. The Airflow shoulder construction and the elbow length sleeves with raw cut allow full range of motion. As a consequence, I was not bothered at any moment about the jersey’s position or felt anything holding my movements back. The Velocity Rev2 fabric used for the front and for the sleeves improves airflow while the 3D mesh at the back guarantees high breathability. Closing the jersey is the YKK Vislon zipper that performs great and will not get stuck anytime, so you won’t even notice you opened the jersey while grasping for air on the last long ascent. Castelli found with this jersey the perfect balance between comfort and aero performance, with excelent moisture management and a great fit.
Another very nice detail is the drop tail at the back, which allowed me to freely use the full-size pockets without impacting the shirt placement and kept them perfectly positioned even if full and heavy. Last but not least, the jersey looks great and is available in a beautiful blue-white-red color, too.
Are the Free Aero RC and the Aero Race 6.0 for you?
If you’re looking for a race kit that can be used for all of your rides, definitely yes. The kit is comfortable and can be used for all purposes. If we meet on the road around Bonn this summer, that’s the kit you’re gonna see me with. Both, short bibs and jersey, are of the highest quality, feel and look great on the body, allow complete freedom of movement, and their performance has been intensively tested by Castelli before passing the kit further to Quick-Step.
Finding a great cycling kit can really improve your experience on the bike and we’ll be happy to help you with that. If you’re still not convinced or if you want any other advice to help you find the perfect kit for you, you can easily reach me or one of my colleagues via e-mail or telephone. Our contact information can be found on the contact page.