Castelli Gabba – myth or legend?

In the last week or so I gave in. I handed over some of the product of my toil for an overpriced cycling jersey that I would need in a size that has an X in and calls me fat from the get go. Much had been promised of this fabled garment. Many have been seen. Many rave reviews. Many friends seen out in them. I believe I have read more than one article stating every serious cyclist should have one. Enter the Castelli Gabba into my world. Here are my thoughts.

Back in the day fabrics were - to be fair - in the dark ages. We had moved from wool to lycra ( albeit in many cases, now, back again) - if you wanted to be warmer - you wore more layers. Rain - well that was a tough one. As nothing was breathable as such. hell even breathable jackets didn’t really cope with hard exertion - and to a certain extent - still do not.

Concepts such as fleece, and breathable fabrics started to come into their own as I became a teenager and cycling was a far bigger thing. Best case scenario was a bunch of layers, and if it was chilly something like a Pertex gillet. For truly foul weather there were neoprene type materials. I know. Right? You are thinking of your overshoes and sweaty feet that are freezing cold... yes - more of that over a larger area. Bulk bulk bulk.

I get hot. It's what I do. It is what I have always done. Dealing with this is an art. Temperature regulation and sweat management are pretty key. A cap goes a long way to keeping the salt water out of my eyes, as does judicious use of merino or similar to spread it out where in contact with my core and keep it comfortable irrespective of hot or cold weather.

Most of the winters in the last decade have seen a thick thermal base layer, with a single layer jacket on top of that. The jackets in this period had fronts that were windrpoof, with possibly choice coverage over shoulders or lower back. Otherwise "Roubaix" material (that is to say a fleece-like backed ticker material). This served between about 12C to -2 or so with degrees of discomfort at each end - and mostly with me riding along with the jacket vented to cool me down.

So. Events took place. I bought a Castelli Gabba2 short sleeve, and here we are.

The garment is quite thin. It is stretchy. There is a low quality mesh lining the collar, and to drain the pockets on the rear. The material appears to be a WL Gore Windstopper thee layer laminate - the type you would usually find on a stretch softshell jacket.

I have had Windstopper gloves, jackets and so on in the past, and they get wet, and heat is stolen over that exposed surface.This being said they are a lot better than standard fabrics. This I am assuming has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment to make it hydrophobic and shed water.

I have paired the short sleeve jersey with the Castelli Nano-Flex arm warmers which are TIGHT. I am a glorified typist for a living - I have spindly arms. They are so tight in fact that trying to bend to 90 degrees reminds me of what happens when bending a balloon (and the wonders and challenges of building a constant volume space suit strangely enough).

Heading out over the last three days riding after work I have faced three varying weather conditions.

These last three days I took an extended ride after work. after work rides saw a DHB long sleeve merino base layer underneath, and a Torm short sleeve sportwool jersey on top. So - three form fitting layers, as opposed to one base and one baggy. Not restrictive, not flapping in the wind - all good.

Cold, properly still dry cold - Garmin showing down to -4C;

Windy with sleet;

Cold in the 3C region with intense showers.

I am not sure whether this says more about where my mind is at at the moment, or the garment - however - without a shadow of a doubt my core was comfortable, I was neither too hot, or too cold (I had no need to faff with the zipper to vent) and I was not getting wet. I am to be fair, and this is not a phrase I use lightly: Amazed*.

How the DWR will fair, and how this fears over time as a layered garment - this is all yet to be seen.

It is an expensive tool to have in the arsenal. Yes.

Was it the fuss-about-nothing and regretful-purchase that I thought it would be? No.

It is early days - however thus far I am astounded. Borrow one, try it, it would appear the words were right.


*Sure my feet were getting cold, there were moments when I thought the skin on my face was trying to kill me or may actually crack after some descents should I have cause to move it from the grimace it was stuck in... but my core, my core was good... and my legendary 851 Assos Longs were doing the same thing they have been doing for years... being epic (if a little long and thus baggy around knee since they messed around with their sizing).

** The sizing is not too bad either - I am an XL with a 42/43" chest. I understand the women’s sizing comes up a little small - in which case - get over yourself and go with the Large - you know who you are.

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