Castelli Pave bib tight — $160
The Pave isn’t a hyper-thermal bib tight — if you’re looking for performance in serious cold, Castelli’s own Sorpasso tights are a much better bet. Instead, the Pave aims at a thermal midpoint and adds a water repellent and wind resistant Nanoflex layer. They are distinctly geared towards those 40-60˚ days when precipitation or wet, snow-melted roads are a possibility.
The Nanoflex fabric is not waterproof; it’s not going to keep you perfectly dry in an extended downpour. But light rain beads up and rolls off quickly, keeping your legs dry much longer. I stayed completely dry over a 45-minute storm last fall. The fabric also holds in heat better once damp, and still breathes very well. Seams have been kept to a minimum to prevent seepage.
Other manufacturers have similar water-resistant tights, but most add a significant thermal inner to their water-resistant outers. Pearl Izumi’s AmFIB tights ($165) are much warmer than the Castelli Pave, for example — so much warmer that I’ve found them too thick to wear over about 40 to 45˚. I don’t care about water resistance on my hyper-thermal tights; if I’m wearing them it’s likely too cold to be raining. That’s why I like the Pave — the thickness is optimized for the sort of temperatures we get in early spring, when rain is most likely.
The Kiss3 chamois is comfortable, though not as luxurious as the chamois used in the Sorpasso tights. For some reason most bib tights have issues with chamois quality, but Castelli seems to have figured it out. The bib straps are thin, flexible, stretchy and comfortable, with a mesh back. I never once thought about them, which means they did their job perfectly.
The ankles are zippered for easy on/off and a tight fit around the ankle. The waterproof material extends all the way to the bottom. Be careful with booties: if you put the tights inside your booties, the water will run right down and fill up your shoes in no time. Instead, zip the tights over your booties; just make sure that you wear long enough socks to prevent uncomfortable ankle chafing from your booties.
My one gripe is an aesthetic one. Castelli puts their logo and a big “Nanonflex” in some sort of rubbery strip substance on the left leg. It starts to peel almost instantly, and looks horrible. Luckily, it comes off so easily that peeling it all the way off is a cinch. Still, it’s a bit shoddy to have on an otherwise wonderful product.
The scoop: Highly water resistant, perfectly thermal for early-spring temperatures, comfortable chamois, versatile, but the logos peel quickly. Recommended temperature range: high 30s F to high 50s F.