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. First up in our Winter Wear Review is Grannygear.
Castelli Winter Clothing: Winter Wear Review- by Grannygear
I have five items of clothing that would be welcome into nearly any rider’s closet and are well suited to the generally mild, but challenging Fall thru Spring riding season in So Cal. Unless I am at elevation, the temps will seldom get much colder than into the 30s and generally speaking we would be riding through temps from the 40s into the 60s. If it is 30 degrees I am having coffee waiting for it to warm up.
What we do require is a garment that is very forgiving in the way it breathes so that we can get rid of excess moisture, yet still block the windchill. Rain is not so much a priority. We can begin with temps in the high 30s and climb for a couple of hours while the day warms by 20 degrees or more. Heavy tights or jackets are a burden in that case, so we get used to starting out a little cold feeling on our rides so we do not overcook before we are done. Seldom will we ride where it is 40 degrees all day. It happens, but not so much unless you are up high for the entire ride.
In that vein, we have some items from Castelli and GORE Wear that we will be using over the next couple of months. Here is what we have to review and some early impressions beginning with Castelli.
The ‘Perfect’ Jersey: The Perfetto Long Sleeve
From the website:
PERFETTO LONG SLEEVE
THE PERFECT JACKET?
This jacket was initially created as a long sleeve version of the Gabba — kind of a cold weather version of the Gabba. But we kept hearing so many people refer to the long-sleeve version of the Gabba as perfect, so we’ve renamed it the Perfetto Long Sleeve.
It’s a great piece in cool conditions with just a light base layer, or it goes to very cold conditions if you add an extra layer or 2 or 3.
We’ve improved the water-repellent finish so it will keep you drier without affecting breathability.
We’ve refined the fit. We’ve laser cut the drain holes in the pockets. And we’ve totally redone the splash flap on the back to make it lie flatter and fit better.
The reflective logo back there keeps you visible.
When I see GORE Windstopper on a garment, I am encouraged as that has proven to be a very good fabric for So Cal riding. It allows for a pretty thin garment that blocks wind like a block wall, but breathes very well. That fabric in the X-Lite Plus version is built into the Perfetto. I have heard this called a jacket, but in my mind it is really more like a jersey that can make a jacket superfluous. The fit is very tight, so size up if you want to avoid being shrink wrapped. I needed to go to an XL to get room for a layer underneath and I am almost always a LG in a jersey or jacket. As well, GORE Windstopper is not very stretchy, so you need to get it right. I could get a base and long sleeve jersey under this, but I doubt I would enjoy it. What would work is a heavier base layer if the temps were to be in the mid 40s and below.
The arms are generous in length and there are three functional pockets in the back with water drains. Based on my experience with Windstopper, it is not waterproof but sheds water well and the Perfetto is also coated for drippy days. I expect it to be decent for most anything but a real soaker.
I love the bright color and the cut is flattering as long as you have been skipping the extra cheesecake helpings. Italian, you know. The collar is soft and sits high and just right for drafty mornings. Besides the full front zipper, there are two ‘rib cage’ zipped vents for extra ventilation. They are pretty effective, actually.
There is no insulation layer at all.
I have used this several times now from the high 30s and warming into the low 60s with either a long sleeve medium weight base layer or a short sleeve medium weight base layer and I have seldom found such a good balance of warmth, protection, and breath-ability. You do feel the cold air, especially on your arms because the Perfetto is so tight fitting, but that soon fades away when you heat up during riding.
This is not something you would stand around in the cold with. It is for active, hard riding in temps from the 40s-50s and maybe a bit outside that range depending on the layer underneath and your own thermostat. I did build up moisture in it while working hard in the sun on a cold day, but as I backed off for a bit, the dampness faded and I never felt trapped in it. Impressive!
More on the Perfetto later, but I think it will be perfect for night rides at speed and early days. So far, it is a peach, albeit an Italian one. Bella!
Suggested retail is $199.99.
Sorpasso 2 Tights and Bib Knickers:
From the Castelli website for the Sorpasso 2 Tights:
SORPASSO 2 BIBTIGHT
THE SECRET TO OUR BEST WINTER TIGHT
The Sorpasso Bibtight is our best winter tight because of its exceptionally wide comfort range and the amazing fit. And both of these features come from the combination of our Thermoflex Core2 fabric and our standard fleecy Thermoflex.
The Core2 fabric is made with a hollow-core polyester yarn on the inside and a nylon outer face, which together provide excellent insulation for cold temperatures along with better wicking to keep you comfortable when it’s not so cold. This fabric offers some wind protection but is somewhat limited in stretch, and that’s where the extremely stretchy Thermoflex fabric comes in.
The overall effect is a tight that offers optimal compression and seems to just move with you.
For 2017 we’ve updated the design of the tight and given it a lumbar support panel that further improves the fit.
I have worn the tights and the knickers (they are the same in features and fabric, etc) enough to know a good thing when I see them. What I appreciate about Castelli’s description of these is they have the ideal conditions for the garments really pegged. I have used them in nearly exactly the temp range and conditions they call out and they have been super. Wind blocking is very good, but not complete, so below 40 degrees I would want more between me and the elements. But they are not a wind tunnel pointed at your crotch like some tights I have used. They are a decent blend of warmth, comfort (almost), and thickness/flexibility.
The “almost” comfort rating is due to the too-tight shoulder straps that really could be longer and the very snug waist section. I would expect the straps to stretch out but the waist, not so much. They mention a Lumbar support in the ad copy but that also means a ‘tight belt’ feeling at the waist. I am wearing the LG size tights/knickers, yet I could not imagine XLs on me. However the chamois, a Progetto X2 Air in both of them, has been fabulous so far (longest ride 2 hours).
I really like knickers as they fit that temp range we spend a lot of time riding in, conditions where you would stay in knee warmers all day but a tight is too much. Might as well have the knee warmers built in.
Both of them have a delicious, ‘snugly’ feel to them, that fabric doing it’s best to insulate me from the cool air.
More on these as well after some more saddle time. The tights retail for $179.99 and the knickers version at $149.99.
About The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.