Castelli Climber's Jersey 2.0 vs Rapha Climber's Jersey

BikeRadar Battle: Lightweight jerseys for hot days

On hot days a superlight jersey can do wonders for keeping you comfortable. Although dubbed ‘climber’s jerseys’, these two pieces work just as well if your typical ride’s elevation profile looks like The Netherlands. Here I examine the nitty gritty of the Castelli Climber’s Jersey 2.0 and the Rapha Pro Team Climber’s Jersey – and declare a winner.

Both are fairly light: 100g for a large Castelli and 120g for a medium Rapha (both shown here on the same 185lb/84kg rider).

The Rapha feels softer and silkier to the touch, but the Castelli breathes better on the front by a wide margin. Put it to you this way: I have yet to unzip the Castelli jersey, even when slogging slowly up long, steep climbs.

The castelli climber's jersey 2.0 uses the aero cut of castelli's race jersey with whisper-thin mesh material: the castelli climber's jersey 2.0 uses the aero cut of castelli's race jersey with whisper-thin mesh material
The castelli climber's jersey 2.0 uses the aero cut of castelli's race jersey with whisper-thin mesh material: the castelli climber's jersey 2.0 uses the aero cut of castelli's race jersey with whisper-thin mesh material

Castelli's piece fits, feels and arguably functions like an aero jersey. A very thin aero jersey

Both jerseys have pockets with structure and substance, which may sound like a silly thing to say, but numerous hyperlight jerseys – including previous attempts by Castelli like the Ultraleggera Jersey I tested in 2012 – have hyper-stretchy pockets.

The Rapha looks better off the bike. It’s tight but not shrink-wrapped, and not completely see-through. The Castelli looks like a fully aero baselayer, which is kinda what it is – plus pockets and a zipper.

The rapha climber's jersey feels silky, but doesn't breath quite as well on the shoulders and chest as the castelli: the rapha climber's jersey feels silky, but doesn't breath quite as well on the shoulders and chest as the castelli
The rapha climber's jersey feels silky, but doesn't breath quite as well on the shoulders and chest as the castelli: the rapha climber's jersey feels silky, but doesn't breath quite as well on the shoulders and chest as the castelli

The Rapha is soft and silky to the touch, but wrinkles a bit when in the riding position

The Castelli is cut better for on-bike position. When on the hoods or in the drops, the shoulders and sleeves are nearly wrinkle free. The Rapha is cut more for standing upright. Lean forward and the arms bind just a little.

 Castelli Rapha Advantage
Weight100g120gCastelli 
Price US$129 / £71 / AU$TBC    US$195 / £130 / AU$210    Castelli
LooksShrink-wrapped aero baselayerTighty whiteyRapha
VentilationDid I forget to put a jersey on?Lightweight, but still a jerseyCastelli
FitAero cut for on-bikeSlightly more relaxedPersonal preference
Wicking/dryingImmediateBetter than averageCastelli
PocketsVery little saggingLittle to no saggingRapha
Overall  Castelli

Bottom line, if hot-weather performance is your priority, then the Castelli Climber's Jersey 2.0 is your best bet.

The castelli climber's jersey 2.0 is probably better worn with white bibs straps...: the castelli climber's jersey 2.0 is probably better worn with white bibs straps...
The castelli climber's jersey 2.0 is probably better worn with white bibs straps...: the castelli climber's jersey 2.0 is probably better worn with white bibs straps...

Note to self, and others: wear bibs shorts with white straps...

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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