The light levels are dropping and so is the temperature – it must be time to break out the winter cycling gear. Castelli is touting a range of products aimed at covering the raft of weather conditions winter can bring (that's everything from warm and wet to bright but freezing) so we’ve taken a gander at what’s on offer from the Italian brand's women's selection.
Castelli has packed a raft of features into its various jackets, combined with fairly understated styles and colours – though there are bright options available if you like your cycle kit loud.
The kit is aimed at the 'performance' cyclist, so expect a tight fit. Indeed, as with many Italian brands even this tends to come up on the small side so expect to go up a size or two from your high-street dress size.
Castelli products are available internationally, and we'll be adding US and Australian prices shortly.
Women’s Gabba jacket
The Gabba – which could almost have been specifically designed for the warm, wet UK autumn – has long been one of the most popular products in the mens’s pro peloton, and it’s finally available as a women’s specific version. The Castelli Gabba long sleeve (£170), somewhere between a jacket and a jersey, has something of a following.
The women’s-specific Gabba has the same features as the men’s version, but with a feminine cut and different palette; there are black, red and purple versions.
Made from Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric, the Gabba is effective in its simplicity. It’s not waterproof, but is water resistant and, as we’ve mentioned in a test of the men’s Castelli Jacket on BikeRadar, it keeps you warm even if it gets wet.
Vents on the front at each hip zip open to allow increased internal airflow, and there are three pockets on at the rear that feature reflective piping and a mesh bottom to allow water to drain through.
The cut is aero and snug, and (as we might have mentioned) sizes on the smaller end of the spectrum – though not as much as we imagined it might for an Italian brand. I tried a Medium, and in my opinion it corresponds to a UK 10 or small UK 12 (that's US 6-8), with room for a light base layer underneath.
Elemento 2 7X(AIR) W jacket
If you are looking for warmth on bitterly cold but dry winter days, then the Elemento 2 jacket (£300) promises cosiness, with a raft of features designed to keep the warmth in and the wind out. It's available in a stealthy black or white and purple.
Castelli has used a stretch quilting stitch to produce ruffled panels of their WindShear fabric on the front, back and sleeves of the jacket. The texture traps air in the fabric providing insulation, while allowing breathability through the fabric to prevent moisture buildup inside.
Open the jacket up, and the second feature we noticed was an additional fleece layer with a separate zip at the front. Layering up is a well-known defence against the cold, and it’s interesting to see this integrated into a jacket. A peripheral benefit of this feature is further temperature regulation; get too hot, and you can open the outer layer a little without blasting your chest with cold air.
Warm fleece panels on the inside back and sleeve of the jacket provide even more insulation, and feel soft and warm to the touch. The cuffs are an area prone to letting cold air in so Castelli has opted for a raw-edge Lycra option that lies snug but not tightly at the wrist.
One feature that looks like it will be particularly welcome on windy days is the additional internal fleece-lined cover, which sits against the back of the neck.
Three rear pockets and a zipped side pocket, plus reflective accents and silicone gripper strip at the hem finish off the long list of features in this jacket.
Castelli Alpha Women’s jacket
Castelli claims the Alpha jacket (£230) is its ‘most innovative jacket ever’, whatever that means. As with the Elemento though, it’s undeniably strong on features.
Designed to be windproof, water resistant and highly ventilated, the Alpha women’s jacket claims the kind of properties that avid winter-trainers will no doubt appreciate.
Pockets aplenty mean there's ample space to stow your stuff – there are three at the back, plus a zipped rear pocket and a second zipped pocket at the hip.
Both the second internal collar and integrated internal front layer make an appearance in the Alpha, providing protection from the elements even when the assymetric front zip is open. More airflow is provided via the rear air vents which allow moisture to escape.
Windstopper four-way stretch fabric allows freedom of moment when on the bike, complemented by the angled cuff construction. Both the cuffs, with their raw-edge Lycra, and the lower hem are designed to sit flush against the body to minimise aerodynamic drag.
The fit is close, aided by the panel construction and rear darts, which give the Castelli Alpha jacket a nipped-in waist.
Castelli Women’s Sorpasso bib tight
Castelli's cold-weather protection for your lower half comes courtesy of the Sorpasso bib tights (£130). The Sorpoasso bibs use a combination of Castelli’s Thermoflex and Thermoflex Core2 material, which combine hollow fibres for insulation in a stretchy, fleece-lined fabric.
Castelli has opted for the beside-boob formation for the bib straps, with a mesh material forming a high back and the fleece-lined Lycra at the front and waist.
Paneled anatomical construction ensures a good fit, but again it's worth taking care with the sizing. Although there is plenty of give, overstretching the Lycra allows the red fleece lining to show through.
A wide elastic and silicone band at the ankle provides a secure fit, with YKK zips with a reflective cover.
The bibs feature an integral Progetto X2 women’s specific chamois pad that combines various densities of padding.
Cold feet are no fun, particularly if you are clocking up the winter miles. Castelli's Troppo shoe cover (£50) is made of firm, stretchy windproof and water-resistant Lycra, with a rear waterproof zip. It comes in black, pink or yellow options; each features reflective prints on the rear and outer side.
In terms of fit, we tried the medium over a pair of fairly chunky size UK7 shoes, and they did go on – albeit with a bit of a struggle. For UK 7 and above we’d recommend going for size Large or more.
Women’s Chromo glove
Incorporating Windstopper X-Fast fabric and plenty of insulation, the Chromo gloves (£55) are designed to prevent your fingers falling off when the temperature drops.
Hands tend to bear the brunt of wind chill, sitting stationary and exposed on the bars, so when the temperature drops the holy grail is warmth and wind protection without sacrificing dexterity and control.
The insulation on the Chromo gloves is fairly bulky, though a very quick spin on the bike reassured me that I could still control gears and brakes.
There’s also a micro suede thumb panel for wiping glasses/your nose depending on preference.
Attelier socks, Viva Donna headband and Campiglio knit cap
A winter outfit wouldn’t be complete without a pair of merino socks, and the Atteliers (£15) combine a very fine knit with soft feel and a nice long cuff for extra winter insulation.
From toe to top, the Viva Donna headband (£11) is a raw-edged thermoflex band that’s fine enough to sit under a helmet and provide a bit of insulation for the ears, another part of the anatomy that tends to suffer when the wind picks up.
And finally, the Campiglio knit cap (£25) is perfect for keeping your noggin warm and your helmet hair covered at those all-important café stops. It features a snug internal fleece band. Warm though it is, it's most likely too thick to fit under a helmet.