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Castelli Perfetto Long Sleeve Jersey Review (The Jersey Formerly Known As Gabba)

Long time readers of this blog will know that I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with a certain piece of cycling clothing for an irrational number of years. Over that time I’ve done precisely nothing about it (er, like buying it).

Well now I’ve finally done something about it.

I’ve bought … a different piece of cycling clothing. And this is my review.

Heretofollows my thoughts on the Castelli Perfetto foul weather jersey.

The Pro Cyclist’s Stealth Jersey Of Choice

Once upon a time, Castelli created a jersey and called it the Gabba. It turned out to be great (apparently).

So great in fact that pro cyclists from teams that were not sponsored by Castelli would, on days with really terrible weather, put on a Gabba.

Only, since these riders were on teams that had relationships with other cycling clothing manufacturers, they had to colour in the Castelli logo and play dumb about where they’d got it from (perhaps they hoped that the driving rain would mask their clothing infidelity).Castelli Perfetto pockets

The Gabba’s finest hour came on the occasion of the 2013 running of the Milan-San Remo pro race, a race that saw weather so bad that it was halted midway through so that riders could pile onto a bus in order to get some respite, avoid two of the key climbs, and to stand any chance of finishing the race.

So many pro riders were wearing the Gabba in an unofficial capacity on that day (including the race winner), and had tried to disguise it for the cameras, that Castelli released a ‘pro’ version.

The only difference between the Pro edition and the standard jersey, was that the former came in a presentation box with a big black marker pen, so the recipient could black out the Castelli name on the front. I kid ye not:Castelli-Gabba-Pro-Edition

Perfetto Porfatto (Let’s Take The Whole Thing Off)

The story continues.

After a while, and faced with what was starting to look like insurmountable evidence, Castelli decided that the Gabba wasn’t just great. Oh no. It was perfect. And the name, Gabba, didn’t seem to capture the level of perfection that this jersey had attained.

So Castelli cast around for a new name. A name that would capture the very essence of the garment. The perfect name. The name, perfect.

In a magnificent explosion of literalness (literarility?), Castelli elected to rename their jersey, “the Perfect”.

It takes a certain kind of Italian confidence to do that.

This all makes me think I should adopt a similar strategy with this blog. Though in my case I’d have to rebrand ‘Sportive Cyclist’ as ‘The Average’ (or maybe the Mediocre).

(Which, as I write them, are not the worst names in the world. Very post-modern….)

Castelli Perfetto Versus Gabba: What Is The Difference?

Well, they’re the same and different. Helpful.

As outlined above, the Perfetto started life as the Gabba. Then, the Gabba was a long-sleeved jersey with a full-length zip. This is what the Perfetto is now.

Here is a photo of the original Gabba:

The Gabba now, or rather the Gabba 3 (being its third iteration), is a short-sleeved version of Castelli’s foul weather jersey.

Which looks rather a lot like this:

Castelli Gabba 3 Short Sleeve Jersey

Sir will notice the lack of arms. Which is the key difference between the Gabba and the Perfetto. Simples really.

Castelli Perfetto Unboxing, Er, De-Bagging

Whilst the Perfetto doesn’t come officially in a box, this one came in an unofficial Wiggle one, along with a Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT (to allow me to write this review) and a Garmin Edge 520 (where I haven’t yet pulled my finger out sufficiently in order to write a review).

Castelli Perfetto unboxing

The Perfetto does, however, come in a nice presentation baggie. On the shiny shilver backing we have a torrent of marketing chaff. The more enlightening transparent side gives us our first glimpse of the mighty garment.

Castelli Perfetto in bag

In addition to ‘Rosso Corsa’ being (according to Castelli) a ‘categorical breakthrough in cycling’ (?), it is also the archetypal colour (‘racing red’) used by Ferrari and other Italian sports car manufacturers. So now you know.

Here is the photo of the Perfetto on a table:Castelli Perfetto on table

A close up seems to indicate some sort of link with Ireland:Castelli Perfetto name badge

The white bar you can see above is one of the vents found on either side of the jacket, which provide a little ventilation, should the warmth-bestowing capabilities of the Perfetto become too much for you to handle.

This (clearly) difficult-to-take torso selfie (torsie?) gives a bit more insight as to the zip locations (as well giving the impression I had dressed up as a frogman for the day):Castelli Perfetto vents

It’s possibly a good time to mention right now that I went for the colour ‘light black’ in selecting my Perfetto. I think the ‘light’ bit refers to the white reflective band across the chest.Castelli Perfetto selfie

Looking at other photos online (of the Perfetto…), the standard black version has a red line instead. Looks like the same black though for the main body of the jacket (but I’m not an Italian cyclo-clothing designissimo).

There are a number of non-black options for those seeking a more colourful riding experience, including a few different blues, a red, an orange and a fluorescent yellow (described as ‘fluo’, in what turns out not to be a typo).

What Features Does It Have?

In short, the usual ones you’d expect from a high end winter cycling jersey.

We’ve already mentioned the two zipped side vents.

Wherever there is white on the Perfetto (such as those vents), it’s generally bright and/or reflective, aiding visibility. Though if you buy the black version, as I did, you’re not really sending the message that being seen is your main priority. The ‘fluo’ version will undoubtedly be more noticeable to other road users in murky conditions.

More features. Three pockets on the back. The ‘bum flap’ is of a good size, providing some protection to your rump whenst riding (mainly from moisture and grime thrown up by your rear wheel)

Castelli Perfetto bum cover

The rump guard has a rubbery lining on the bottom hem, which stops it riding up whilst you are riding (wherever):

Castelli Perfetto grippy hem The Perfetto has a nice high neck, which prevents the wind from finding its way in that way, when you’re in full on aero mode (#FullOnAeroMode). The zip(per) on the front is of good quality with a nice red Castelli-logoed ‘pully bit’.Castelli Perfetto zipper

You will note (note it!) that the zip is covered by a nice weather flap, which prevents wind blowing through the teeth. On other zip-up jerseys and gilets that I own, the equivalent flap is on the inside. This may have merits that I’m not aware of, but has the hassle of the flap sometimes getting caught in the zip as I do it up. The Castelli has no such zip traumas.

What Is The Castelli Perfetto Made From?

The Perfetto, and the Gabba before it, is not (and was not) made from a unique fabric.

A surprise, perhaps, given the near-mythical status ascribed to its weather-beating prowess.

The Perfetto is made from Gore Windstopper, a fabric which Gore asserts is ‘totally windproof’, whilst still being breathable.

As I discussed in my post about winter jackets, it’s virtually impossible (certainly at any reasonable cost) for a garment to be windproof, breathable and waterproof. Whilst ticking the box for characteristics one and two, waterproof-ity is eschewed in favour of a water repellant treatment. You’ll only stay dry for so long when wearing the Perfetto in driving rain.

This suits me. I think as cyclists (particularly British ones), you have to get used to getting a bit damp. The trick is not to get wet and cold. Which the Perfetto assists with.

How Does It Fit?

I knew that Castelli clothing tends to be on the skimpy size for its stated fit. On the basis that I’m generally a ‘small’ in cycling kit, I ordered my Perfetto in a ‘Medium’.

I did have some trepidation around my size selection. I’d read reviews on the Wiggle website where people had had to buy Castelli clothing two sizes above what the size guide would have you believe suitable.

When I first put the Perfetto on, I wondered if my trepidation had been well founded. It felt a little, er, tight.

However, when I put it on with bib shorts, with the bib doing a good job of acting like a Victorian girdle, the fit seemed far more comfortable. Perhaps these Italian clothing designers have some skill after all.

Castelli Perfetto close

Having worn the jersey a few times now, I must admit I’m pretty happy with how it looks on me. I think it’s quite flattering. Perhaps the black is slimming…

Castelli Perfetto back with chicken

Yes, you’re right. That is a chicken. It came free with the Castelli Perfetto Smallholder’s Edition, which is what I went for.

And yes, I believe I am le coq sportive…

Cold Weather Testing

On a recent Sunday morning, I spent an organ-chilling 55 minutes watching my son’s under–9s football team being right royally stuffed by another local team (their reasonable 5-a-side performance last year doesn’t seem to have translated to the 7-man game…).

Anyhoo, the weather on this November morning was glorious. Blue skies. Sun. Bracing northerly wind. Fleece, body warmer, gloves and all my normal clothes did little to keep out the chill.

I resolved that this would be a good day to test the Perfetto’s ability in cold riding conditions.

Normally on a chilly (knocking-on-the-door-of) winter day, I would have worn a base layer, a winter jersey (generally this dhb one) and then a gilet on top. To test the Perfetto properly, I eschewed the gilet.

It was a nice ride. Much of which seemed to be directly into a headwind, recently arrived from the Arctic north (as the screengrab below from my weather app shows).

Castelli Perfetto sub zero ride

I have to say, the Perfetto coped admirably. Its fabric is quite thin, so I expected to have to work quite hard to get my temperature up (and keep it there). But staying warm didn’t seem a problem.

Neither was the wind. Despite its thinity (new word; feel free to use), I could not feel the wind getting through the jersey (I could definitely feel it slicing through the fleece that I was wearing at the football).

Of course my ‘core’ (such as it is) benefitted from also being covered by my high-ridin’ bib shorts and a nice semi-merino base layer. But my base layer was only short-sleeved – my arms, covered only in Perfetto, were comfortably protected as well.

Final Thoughts

Look, it’s a great jersey. I’ve found myself looking for excuses to wear it (out on the bike!), even when the weather doesn’t quite justify it. I like the fit and the style. It seems to do exactly what it claims in terms of weather protection.

It’s certainly not cheap. But then it feels like a number of premium cycling brands have launched or grown in recent years, such that Castelli is by no means an outlier on price any more.

I’m glad I bought it. I’m sure I’ll get a good amount of use out of it. As a ‘treat purchase’, complemented by a wardrobe comprising more value clothing from the likes of dhb, I think it’s … (wait for it…)

Perfetto.

(Sorry-o).

Buy The Castelli Perfetto And Support Sportive Cyclist!

Don’t feel you have to buy this jersey because I say so. But, if you do find yourself struck by the irrational desire to purchase one (or even a rational desire), I’d be honoured if you do so via one of my links. If you do, I will potentially get a small commission (it doesn’t cost you anything – you pay the same price whatever). You do get a small bonus: the warm of glowing of knowing you helped support this blog 🙂

So, those links if you want to find out more about the Perfetto or buy one:

Grazi! And until next time, safe cycling!

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Adrian Lauchlan says:

    Be warned! I have also bought this recently and last weekend went out on both Saturday and Sunday with it on. Saturday was miserable, wet and cold and the rain did find its way through the jacket but I felt warm enough. However Sunday was a beautiful crisp winter like day so I had a merino top, a short sleeve cycle jersey over that and this jacket. I was cycling in Hertfordshire and the temperature was very low but not as low as you experienced. However I felt cold and couldn’t get warm until eventually towards the end of the ride I put my rain jacket on over it – so 4 layers. Checking the Castelli sight it states that the temperature range for this jacket is 6-15 degrees C so not a true winter jacket in my opinion and experience.

  • Andrew Blundell says:

    Depends how hot you run. I’m a Castelli fanboy, short sleeve gabba plus arm warmers to c 7c, long sleeve gabba (mine’s that old) to around zero with short sleeve merino, a bit below freezing with long sleeve base layer, colder alpha jacket. YMMV

  • Adrian Lauchlan says:

    So last week I was up in the Peak District and did a couple of days cycling – One day two rides of 12 miles out of Youlgrave and the next a 40 mile ride. I wore my Perfetto top with a merino base and cycling top underneath. The wind was very strong on the first day and less so on the second but both days were cold. Typically the rides consisted of 1000 ft climbs per 10 miles with some very steep ones (14%) included. As a result I only suffered the cold on the descents and found myself sweating on some of the ascents. Returning back south I bought myself a Castelli winter jacket and went out on Sunday with the same two layers underneath. Again the weather was cold and we don’t have so many hills here and those we do have aren’t as big or consistently steep as the Peaks, 500ft per 10 miles. As a result I was happily warm in my new jacket. So I think everything is dependent on how hard you ride as to what to wear

  • Adrian Lauchlan November 21, 2017, 11:58 pm

    Be warned! I have also bought this recently and last weekend went out on both Saturday and Sunday with it on. Saturday was miserable, wet and cold and the rain did find its way through the jacket but I felt warm enough. However Sunday was a beautiful crisp winter like day so I had a merino top, a short sleeve cycle jersey over that and this jacket. I was cycling in Hertfordshire and the temperature was very low but not as low as you experienced. However I felt cold and couldn’t get warm until eventually towards the end of the ride I put my rain jacket on over it – so 4 layers. Checking the Castelli sight it states that the temperature range for this jacket is 6-15 degrees C so not a true winter jacket in my opinion and experience.

  • Andrew Blundell November 24, 2017, 10:06 pm

    Depends how hot you run. I’m a Castelli fanboy, short sleeve gabba plus arm warmers to c 7c, long sleeve gabba (mine’s that old) to around zero with short sleeve merino, a bit below freezing with long sleeve base layer, colder alpha jacket. YMMV

  • Adrian Lauchlan November 27, 2017, 11:27 am

    So last week I was up in the Peak District and did a couple of days cycling – One day two rides of 12 miles out of Youlgrave and the next a 40 mile ride. I wore my Perfetto top with a merino base and cycling top underneath. The wind was very strong on the first day and less so on the second but both days were cold. Typically the rides consisted of 1000 ft climbs per 10 miles with some very steep ones (14%) included. As a result I only suffered the cold on the descents and found myself sweating on some of the ascents. Returning back south I bought myself a Castelli winter jacket and went out on Sunday with the same two layers underneath. Again the weather was cold and we don’t have so many hills here and those we do have aren’t as big or consistently steep as the Peaks, 500ft per 10 miles. As a result I was happily warm in my new jacket. So I think everything is dependent on how hard you ride as to what to wear

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