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Castelli Entrata Thermal Bib Knickers 233g Medium (as tested) £105

The Castelli Entrata Thermal Bib Knickers are an entry level fleece lined design intended to address those conditions where it’s too mild for tights and bib shorts are a non-starter. Castelli reckon between 12 and 18 degrees, although I’ve been out at the lower end of single figures (and Storm Babet) with no issues. For me, the entry level tag is perhaps a little misleading- they're really a mid-point garment. Performance and pricing reflect this.

Pros: Great Pad, Cater for most conditions, seemingly durable, relatively lightweight.

Cons: No water repelling layer top layer, pad lacks an anti-bacterial component.

Materials/Construction

Not necessarily exotic but decent quality and well-executed. The Entrata are designed for general riding, which might sound a little “jack of all trades” for some tastes but should be read as “covers most bases very well”. I wasn’t surprised to find it’s the classic eight panel Polyester/Elastane mix blend, with some Polyamide within the mesh bib sections. The latter bodes well for moisture management, especially in autumn/early spring where it can be chilly at the beginning of a ride, then toasty when the sun’s been out a while. They’re also sensibly broad, displacing loads evenly for a secure, though unobtrusive hold.

Flatlock seams run throughout, and silicone grippers keep the legs where you’d want them, without feeling intrusive. Inside, there’s a thin pile brushed fleece fabric designed to offer warmth, without bulk. Most of us will like the ultra-practical, goes - with- anything and doesn’t show the grime, matt black. Thoughtfully, there’s a Castelli logo on the lower leg, which cuts some of the stealth, especially at a moderate cadence.

test review cycling gear
test review thermal bib knickers tights cycling gear
test review thermal bib knickers

Pad 3.5/5

Decent pads are a must and again, they’re a very personal thing. Saddleback, Castelli’s UK distributor tell us the Kiss Air2 has inherited a lot of plusses from its top line Progetto X2. On balance, the Kiss Air2 pad is a little thinner and set slightly further back, which may be a consideration for some. It comprises of a “skin care” top layer, designed to wick moisture from the skin, although I was surprised to learn it doesn’t feature a whiff busting anti-bacterial.

Damping is courtesy of a dual density, variable thickness foam- thickest around the ischial zone (sit bones) tapering down at the perineum and thinnest around the perimeter. Again, might lack wow factor on paper but well thought out in practice. Castelli suggests this should cope with ride durations around 5 hours and two years hard service before the memory foam struggles to “remember” its shape. 

tst review cycling bicycle gear thermal
test review cyclist thermal tights gear bib knickers

Sizing/Fit 3.75/5

On balance, our medium was the best fit for my 1m81, 70 kilo frame, although it’s worth mentioning that I’m proportionately much longer in the leg. I wasn’t surprised to discover they up a fraction shorter than my ideal but nothing I’d lose any sleep over. Everywhere else, the Entrata felt figure huggingly bespoke, and the size guide is pretty accurate. Bottom line - worth trying a pair if you fall between sizes or are quirkily proportioned.

Performance 3.75/5

I’ve tested ours in varying temperatures and occasionally very wild, wet weather- on and off road. Overall performance is very favourable, at both ends of the temperature scale, although I’m the first to admit I’m donning shorts when the mercury reaches the mid-teens. However, when paired to longer, often waterproof socks, including but not limited to these Gecko Calf Length Classic All Action Waterproof Socks.

test review cycling gear thermal bib knickers

I’ve been comfortable cruising along for three hours in 2 degrees. The fleece lined fabric does an excellent job of blocking chill and the silicone gripper prevents annoying and sometimes uncomfortable creep - especially when turning higher cadences. Riding winter typical fixed gear ratios being a case in point.

 

Pulling ‘em off en route to the shower, no branding either-yay! The matt outer finish not only looks sharp, but it also supplies goldilocks tenure to saddles. Plenty of grip to subvert annoying surf (especially on traditional leather perches) while still allowing those micro-movements we unconsciously make, especially on longer rides.

Same goes for the bibs, which are comparatively snug but have sufficient give for dignified bladder stops and will entertain middleweight long sleeve base layers without gathering or similar irritation. Regularly alternating between hoods and drops was seamless, thanks in part to the broad, stretchy straps and again, taking base layer materials/quality into account, the mesh region has encouraged efficient wicking. I don’t recall feeling clammy, even when the mercury’s been cruising into the mid-teens. 

The pad has delivered excellent support, especially while aboard Ursula. The old girl’s more upright configuration places greater pressure on the sit bones which can fox some pad shapes and densities.

However, despite being thinner than some, no bunching, chafing or numbness to report and I've spent several hours blasting along bridlepath, singletrack and green lane. Same story doing long, steady road miles on my fixed gear winter/trainer. Sweaty, funky crotches have been conspicuous by their absence and yes, I’ve done the 4 days between wash tests with no ill effect. Surprising, given the lack of anti-bacterial but possibly extends their scope to gravel/similar endurance events.

 

Though there isn’t a DWR (durable water repelling) layer, the outers will hold back light to moderate showery rain for around 45 minutes. Closer to 30 minutes along waterlogged lanes, or wet, churned trails, given the gloop. By that point, things become damp, yet the microfleece will keep warmth. Given a break in the cloud, a light breeze and some autumnal sun I’ve found ours noticeably drier after 45 minutes or so.

Durability/Care 3.25/5

I’ve done 800 miles in generally wet, cool conditions, around 500 off road and not so much as a bobble or lose thread. Reassuring, but again, what I’d expect from this timescale and end of the market. The odd, accidental 40-degree Tour De Samsung hasn’t had any obvious effect but otherwise, sick to the 30 degrees, minimal detergent/soapflakes mantra and leave drying naturally. From the wash, they’ve dried in 3 hours at room temperature, a little quicker on a brighter, blustery day but there haven’t been too many of them during our test period. 

Value 3/5

You can spend a lot more you can also spend a lot less. I’d argue the Entrata were punching at the mid-point and though I’ve found them very competent, there’s a fair bit of choice. Lusso Men’s Perform Thermal ¾ Bib Tights are made in Manchester and arguably their closest price rival, at £100.

Fleece lining and surface texture is designed to hold heat and wick away sweat, silicone grippers to hold everything in situ and features their most popular chamois. Then of course, there are the Primal Dawn Men’s Bib Knickers (£75) which were my defaults for several seasons. DHB Aeron FLT Roubaix ¾ length bib Tights Are £90 (presently reduced to £54). These boast a Roubaix, fleece type fabric, supple bibs and a pad reckoned equally at home on, or off road. 

Summary

Though there are a few “on paper” gaps in the Entranta Thermal Bib Knickers spec, especially compared to some cheaper rivals. In the real world I’ve not noticed. I’ve worn ours for several hours at a time and several days, without a funky crotch and the fleece fabric does a decent job of keeping things temperate and tactile. Again, for a road garment they’ve also seemed equally at peace on the trails. This could be another draw for those who ride different bikes and mix their riding up but don’t want two, or three wardrobes.

Verdict 3.5/5 Capable and comfortable bib knickers although pricier than some competitors.

 

Michael Stenning

 

Saddleback | The Home of Elite Performance Cycling - Road & MTB – Saddleback Elite Performance Cycling

 

PUBLISHED JANUARY 2024

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