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The Castelli Entrata Thermal Bibknicker is a stripped-back, relatively low-cost 3/4 bib for cold days. But don't let the price or spec fool you – it's a cracking ride and exceeded expectations in a wider range of conditions than expected.
Looking for new tights? Our best 3/4 length cycling tights buyer's guide lists our top choices at a wide range of prices.
I've been a huge fan of 3/4 or 'knicker' bib shorts for years. I dig them out in cloudy weather below about 10°C – as my legs run pretty cold, and I relish the feeling of warm knees. I'm not a huge fan of leg warmers as I find them a bit of a faff. The beauty of a knicker is that you can pair it with short or long socks, and when paired with a knee-length thermal waterproof sock, the combined effect of keeping blood warm on its way down to your feet is nothing less than a revelation when it gets properly nippy.
It's not a case that 3/4 bibs are just for road or gravel either – I often wear them under waterproof mountain bike trail pants, where the bib knees can make the often crinkly waterproof fabric more comfortable to pedal in without overheating.
The Entrata is definitely a base-spec product – but being Castelli that doesn't mean cheap or nasty. At £105 they are still a significant investment – but you get performance that belies the price.
The main point here is the use of Thermoflex fabric, which is at the core of Castelli's highly regarded and long-lived thermal arm, leg and knee warmer range. Flexible, breathable and brushed-fleece-warm, quick to dry and comfortable even when wet, Thermoflex really is a miracle fabric.
No, it's not waterproof, and doesn't have a DWR treatment that would allow water to bead off. That's just about my only criticism of the Entrata Thermal – and I'd possibly consider doing a DIY DWR treatment using a technical wash solution to up the fabric's game.
As befits the price you're getting Castelli's KISS AIR2 pad, which I found perfectly comfortable for rough, rocky rides over three hours long. The seams aren't flatlocked but I found no irritation next to my skin.
There's a white reflective logo below the right knee to aid visibility, and a small Castelli scorpion logo on the other knee so people can see your brand affinity.
The back and straps are made of a light mesh fabric that I found wide enough to be supportive.
The Thermoflex comes up high enough at the back to keep your lower back warm, and about to navel level at the front.
Castelli rates the Entrata Thermal down to 12°C – but I can happily testify that they work well far below that. My coldest ride was hovering at around just 2°C for a couple of hours and I was perfectly comfortable. That said, I was working pretty hard, and I'm not sure I'd have have been warm enough otherwise. But if I was on a more leisurely ride at that sort of temperature I'd have probably gone foe padded thermal trousers.
I also found that the Entrata worked well in the wet, though again this will probably depend on how hard you're working. On one consistently wet ride – we've had cold, so why not wet? – the tights had completely wetted out after a couple of hours, but crucially they still remained comfortable.
There seems to be a point beyond which Thermoflex doesn't absorb any more water, when it works almost like a wetsuit: you heat up the water that's against your skin and that's it.
The fit is what Castelli calls 'Regular'. I'm 6' tall, 83Kg and used to be a slim build – curse you, metabolism, wine and cheese! The Large fitted perfectly, with Castelli's size calculator telling me they would be a personally 'tailored' fit, falling between 'Race' and 'Relaxed'.
If money is no object, you might be enticed by the Ashmei Winter Merino knicks Ashmei Winter Merino knicks I tested and really liked a few winters ago. These cost over £200 and are made of a merino-mix material, which offers a step up in both warmth and water resistance.
There's not much more to write about these – I found the Entrata Thermal Bibknicker warm and comfortable, they don't cost that much and they wash up well even after pretty mucky gravel rides. At that price you could have two pairs on rotation and not wince much. Chapeau, Castelli!
Warm, comfortable, affordable and Castelli good looks – what's not to like?
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Entrata Thermal Bibknicker
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
They are for people wanting to ride in cold and maybe wet weather, but who want the flexibility of a 3/4.
Cooler than tights warmer than shorts, the Entrata Thermal Bib Knickers are ideal for mild to cool conditions where you want a little extra coverage and don't want the hassle of warmers.
For those days when you need to cover your knees but it's not quite cold enough for long tights, enter the Entrata Thermal Bibknicker. This no-nonsense tight simply uses our insanely soft, warm, and stretchy Thermoflex fabric for comfort along with our KISS Air2 seat pad, which is comfortable even over long rides and rough terrain. This is "less is more" done right.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Thermoflex fabric for warmth and comfort
KISS Air2 seat pad
Mesh bib straps
Reflective logo below the knee
12-18˚C / 54-64˚F
Weight: 204g (M)
Well-built, but no high-end production like flatlock stitching or welding.
I really rate them overall, and suitable for riding in the cold and wet for a few hours.
The Nanoflex fabric is pretty robust, and the construction seems good enough.
I really like the fit - I forget they're on.
They size really well. Usual caveats apply.
Being such a basic tight, with a light pad, they're on the light side.
Yes, I found them comfortable – no complaints. Though not quite Assos-wow-comfortable...
For the quality and performance you're getting from these I think these represent pretty good value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed well, no marks.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I found that they kept me warm and comfortable, even well below the predicted temperature range.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The warmth that they afforded even when wet.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of a durable water resistant (DWR) layer.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Middling to good - about middle of the road compared to the likes of Endura and Stolen Goat.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Marking down on the low-but-not-that-low price, and lack of DWR finish.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.