By: Jay Prasuhn – lavamagazine.com
Last year, I have to say I was excited to hear that Castelli was making a crack at tri apparel; the Italian company is among the top apparel brands world over, supplying the likes of the Garmin-Barracuda team with truly envelope-pushing technical apparel. From wicking to water resistant, Castelli is a respected brand in cycling.
So I was interested to test the company’s initial offering (not surprisingly, a top-shelf Rosso Corsa product in the seam-free Body Paint line. We tested it this year and came back with some feedback. Which was a fraction of the actual testing that Castelli executes at the wind tunnel at the Polytechnic University of Milan, where Catelli has spent up to 11 hours in one day testing fabrics on riders.
Fortunately, Castelli product manager Steve Smith is a triathlete, and is making sure the company’s effort isn’t a token one—so he did appreciate my little bit of feedback. For 2013, Castelli not only revamps the Body Paint line with a few updates (namely in rear gel pocket design), but comes forward with a whole new tri kit line: Free Tri.
While the all-black Body Paint line is going to appeal to the dedicated racer looking for pure compression in a minimal design, the new Free Tri hits the other part of the tri market: the one that loaves a good-looking kit that functions well.
Estimated at being three quarters the cost of the top-shelf Body Paint line, Free Tri features more color, white and pop. But it also has a lot of tech. For one, it features the thin, aero Giro3 elastic leg cuff seen finishing the end of Castelli’s top-end bike shorts. Instead of laser-cut, it has a milled edge, meaning it won’t unravel, or cut like some laser-cut fabrics have done. That same Giro3 elastic material is also used at the arm gussets. We tried it on the top at the booth, and found the Giro3 doesn’t dig into the lats or shoulders like some stitched edges tend to do.
And it has all the basics. Hydrophobic fabric. Flatlock stitching. And the same multi-density KISS triathlon chamois that’s found in the Body Paint kit. But beyond the fact that it’s customization-ready (yes, your tri team can get you onto this sweet kit) it has one other feature: one of the most aero fabrics Castelli’s tested in the tunnel.
“It’s the same back fabric used by the Garmin team,” Smith says. “We’re not shouting about the gains we found, because if everybody else found out, we’d have a lot more competition. Ryder (Hesjedal) won the Giro d’Italia by only 16 seconds, and we’re pretty convinced the fabric in our kit certainly didn’t hurt in him getting those seconds.”
Smith said the area of fabric on the back of the Free Tri (for a rider in an optimized position) is worth about a 1:30 advantage over a 112-mile Ironman bike.
The Free Tri will come in a front-zip one-piece, a rear-zip ITU-legal one-piece (as used this year on the ITU circuit by Italian ITU pro Allesandro Fabian), and a two-piece, offered as a tri short and tri top. Each piece is black and white with red trim.
The women’s offerings are among our favorites, using that same black and white combo, but with a nice pink trim. The women’s options are for a tri top, a singlet, a tri short and an ITU-legal, rear-zip one-piece tri suit.
For more information on Free TRI Collection: www.castelli-cycling.com/en/products/triathlon/