This year has been absolutely brutal weather-wise. So much water has fallen from the sky that it seems as though I can count on one hand how many times I’ve left home for a ride and not gotten wet at least once. The recent few days of sun have been a welcome change, but there are still a lot of rainy days ahead before the reliably dry late-summer-fall season.
Staying comfortable on the bike when it’s raining is a constant battle. It’s one thing to manage the weather when I’m taking short trips while biking around town for errands and work; but it’s a different thing entirely when I roll out for a much longer ride on one of my fast bikes to do some exploring or training (or both, as is often the case). Back in January we shared some great tips on what to wear (and how to wear it) to survive our dark, cold and wet winters. Now that we’re in the “shoulder season,” you still need to fight the rain, but if you wear too many layers you’ll roast and get wet from the inside out. Yuck.
Luckily we have Castelli. The brand has been around since the 1940s and has a deep connection to bike racing in Italy. And you might not know it, but they’ve got a strong connection to Portland too.
In 2005, fresh off bankrupcy and a major restructuring, the U.S. arm of the company established its headquarters in Portland (the North Tabor neighborhood near I-84 to be precise) under the guidance of former Nike executive Greg Cowan. Cowan resurrected Castelli and has returned the brand to prominence. Today Castelli employs 35 people (and oversees 20 sales reps around the country) from its warehouse and offices in northeast Portland. From design to development, distribution to marketing, Castelli does everything — except make their clothing — right here in Portland.
But of course none of that matters unless they make great stuff.
This spring I’m riding more than usual and I’ve spent many miles in the saddle with Castelli’s latest rain gear. Here’s the lowdown on three pieces that you might want to consider adding to your kit.
Perfetto Light Jersey ($159)
Versatility is something I admire in a product. My Giant TCX-SX cyclocross bike for instance, has left me smiling after races, all-day off-road singletrack adventures, and even a paved century. Castelli’s new Perfetto jersey is of the same ilk. I’m not even sure they should call it a jersey because it also functions as a rain jacket and windbreaker vest.
Material is everything. With the Perfetto, Castelli Gore Windstopper fabric on the front and sleeves with their Nano Light fabric on the back to help repel water. Whether those trademarked names mean anything to you or not, the important thing to know is it works. I’ve worn this jersey for a two-hour ride in 55-degree temps (Castelli’s recommended temperature range is 50 to 68 degrees) and a nearly constant light rain. Combined with their Nano Flex Armwarmers (see below) and a wool base layer underneath, I stayed very comfortable and happy. The rain beaded off the fabric, but I didn’t overheat.
If you’re familiar with Castelli’s groundbreaking Gabba line of jerseys, you can think of the Perfetto as a lighter weight version made for slightly warmer temps.
Other features I like are the tall collar (which is lined with a soft mesh to prevent chafing on your neck), long sleeves (tiny jersey sleeves are a pet peeve of mine!), and the extra long tail flap. The extended fabric over my rear end keeps road much out of my chamois and it’s emblazoned with large reflective “Castelli” lettering. Other little features I appreciated are the three generously-sized rear pockets and the strip of sticky silicone grip material along the bottom that keeps the jersey in place.
The Perfetto nails the balance of weather protection, breathability and fit. Speaking of fit, this jersey runs very small. I ordered up a size (XL) and it fits perfect.
Nano Flex Armwarmers ($59) and Legwarmers ($99)
That saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” definitely applies to Castelli’s Nano Flex arm and legwarmers. With the armwarmers and Perfetto jersey, I’ve opted to not even carry a rain jacket on a few rides.
Castelli’s rain-beating (and beading) Nano Flex fabric is lined on the inside with a thermal fleece. The official temperature rating is 46 to 72 degrees, but they feel a bit too warm for anything beyond the mid 60s to me.
This year the Nano Flex line fits better thanks to a section of Nano Light fabric on the back of the warmers (I didn’t realize this was supposed to fit on the back of the warmers at first, so the fit is a bit off in the lead photo of this post). I have a pair of the old version and definitely noticed the improvement. I have thin arms so I also appreciate the dual-sided silicone grip at the top.
The finish and function on these warmers are top-notch. They’re more substantial than a typical warmer, but the small amount of extra bulk is well worth it when the sky turns grey and wet.
Disclaimer: An agent for Castelli provided these products to me to use at no charge and with no expectation of editorial coverage.