Castelli: Cool Weather Wear Review – by MG
Editor’s Note: Winter is upon us but that doesn’t mean we have to stop cycling. Our Riding Gravel contributors, Grannygear and MG will be giving us the lowdown on some gear we have been sent that will allow you to stay warm and meet your Winter gravel riding needs. Our final installment is a Castelli cycling gear review from MG.
From my earliest days as a cyclist in the late 1980’s, I’ve held Castelli’s sleek Italian style in very high regard. In those early days (as a teen), it was an aspirational thing, but as the years have advanced and my means improved, I’ve learned first hand why Castelli’s gear is renowned by cyclists across the globe. It’s good kit.
With that admitted bias on the table, it was with pleasure that I learned I’d be testing some Castelli winter wear for Riding Gravel. While some may cry foul having an admitted ‘fan of the brand’ testing their gear, I think it may have actually raised the bar for my expectation of the performance of the pieces I reviewed.
Winter can mean a lot of things here in Nebraska. On one hand, we can have a 55 degree F day, but 48 hours later, the high temperature might only be 2… or less. And while the wild weather swings can make winter cycling a challenge to dress appropriately for, it’s not an impossible challenge with the right clothing at your disposal.
Flanders Warm/Neck Warmer Base Layer
From the Castelli website:
Another piece that started in a Team Sky focus group – our warmest base layer (Flanders) with essentially a built-in neck warmer.
On merely cold days, keep the neck down to fill in the space inside the collar of your jacket.
On brutally cold days, pull it up over your face for extra warmth, with the double layer SottoZero fleece fabric to keep you even warmer.
- SottoZero multi-denier 100% polyester fleece fabric
- Flat-lock stitching
- Mesh armpit insert
- Higher than normal neck can be pulled up to act as a neck warmer
With its integrated turtleneck-style neck warmer and warm synthetic fleece fabric, the Flanders Warm/Neck Warmer has become my preferred base layer for rides below about 45 degrees.
Castelli uses mesh in the armpit areas of the Flanders Warm/Neck Warmer. Designed to increase breathability in the warmer zones of the body, the mesh pit zones work with the fleecy body and arm material to provide increased warmth where it’s most needed.
While I was initially surprised they’d use such a lightweight material on a winter base layer, in practice it works well to pull sweat away from the body, keeping it warmer as a result. As always, you have to pay attention to your layering. No base layer will account for you not wearing enough insulating or wind/water proof layers, depending on the day.
At $89.99, the Flanders Warm/Neck Warmer is a premium priced base layer that does exactly what it says it’ll do out on the road. It helps manage your body’s temperature, making your mid and outer layers work better as a result. Plus, the added bonus of the ability to pull the neck warmer up over your mouth in bitterly cold conditions is a unique feature I found surprisingly helpful. It’s been awfully cold in these parts lately, so in the end that was my favorite feature of the Castelli Flanders Warm/Neck Warmer.
That said, I’m sure I’ll dig it just as much under lighter layers in the spring, and for me the versatility, feel and fit of the piece easily justifies the price.
Fit is Euro Pro, which is to say I sized up to a large Flanders Warm/Neck Warmer (from my typical medium) and it fit me like a glove. If you’re more than 6’1 and/or 165 pounds however, go with an XL. That means if I gain a couple pounds, I’ll need to go up a size. Note to self: I’d better cool it on the donuts… or start ‘training’ harder.
Nelmezzo RoS Jersey
From the Castelli website:
THE SPRING AND FALL DO-EVERYTHING JERSEY
Our RoS Rain or Shine products are made to be your favorite garments for dry weather, yet provide significant water protection.
We made this jersey with a double-layer fabric that keeps more wind out than your traditional jersey, yet has no membrane so still has some airflow to maximize breathability. Hence the Nelmezzo name – Italian for in the middle.
The tighter weave and new Nano Flex Xtra Dry make this all but waterproof: you can wear it by itself on wet roads or in light rain/mist, although in steady rain you will likely still reach for a rain shell.
- Nano Flex Xtra Dry low-air-permeability water-repellent dual-face knit fabric
- Warmer than a normal thermal jersey but more breathable than a windproof jacket
- Double-face fabric with polyester inside and nylon outside for excellent moisture transfer
- Easy-sliding YKK Vislon zipper
- 3 rear pockets plus covered key pocket
- Reflective arm bands and back panel
- Weight: 450g
The Nelmezzo RoS jersey is a stylish, functional jersey that drew comments from other cyclists almost every time I wore it on group rides. From the color and subtle ‘Castelli’ graphics to the bold reflective rings on the upper sleeves and smooth-working YKK zipper, this is a piece that’s as much a pleasure to see as it is to wear.
The cut is very much a ‘pro fit’, which means the sleeves are snug, and the length at the front of the jersey is a little short off the bike. On the bike however, the fit comes into its own and comfort is the name of the game. The fleece backed fabric feels great against the skin and is very breathable, despite its water repellency.
While I didn’t have an opportunity to comprehensively test the Nelmezzo RoS jersey’s water-shedding ability, I’d expect it to be good for misty days or light, intermittent rain. That said, I always use and recommend a more waterproof rain coat for heavy and/or consistent rain.
I sized up to a large (from my typical medium) and almost wished I’d have gone with an XL to give me more room for layers underneath.
While the Nelmezzo RoS jersey was awesome as a layering piece in the very cold conditions we have currently in Nebraska, its true strength lies in spring and fall riding. In these conditions, the snug fit would be a boon more than a bane, making this is a piece that’s really at its best in the elements for which it was designed. I’m looking forward to using it more on my spring rides to come.
Note: Castelli sent their gear for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We are not being paid, nor bribed, for these posts and we will give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.