When the Gabba first launched in 2013, it basically took over the cycling world. By now, you're likely familiar with its clandestine appearances throughout the peloton, so we'll skip the anecdotal praise and get to the matter at hand: Castelli's replacing it. The new, Men's Perfetto Jersey spells the end of the Gabba era, and—once we got over our initial outrage—we realized that Castelli hasn't lost its collective mind. The long-sleeve Perfetto is, basically, a Gabba-plus, beginning with the same race-fit, weather-resistant features that made the Gabba so damned impressive and pushing those properties to further extremes. It's still based on the platform of GORE's Windstopper X-Lite Plus material, and we'll cover that below, but any time something as iconic as the Gabba gets tweaked, those changes bear analyzing in detail.
The biggest change from Gabba to Perfetto is that Castelli claims to have improved the Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric's water-repellent finish. We write "claims," because it's hard to believe that it gets better than the Gabba. But here we are. The change addresses a relatively minor complaint that many of us have with the Gabba—namely, it does tend to get a bit stifling during race efforts and interval sessions. That's not an issue that most other inclement weather gear needs to address, because most other inclement weather gear isn't cut for racing. Since the Gabba is, we were able to push it to its limits in the most demanding situations. The Perfetto effectively extends those limits; we look forward to testing them in the sodden races of early spring.
The Perfetto's improved water-resistance and breathability are only noticeable during hard efforts in questionable conditions, but Castelli also made a few readily apparent changes to how the jersey fits. First, the brand refined the fit, further eliminating unnecessary material at the usual flap-points for an even more streamlined ride. Castelli also revisited the extended rear storm flap, making it more of a flexible material (similar to Nano Flex) that lies flat rather than blousing out. The rear pockets were also tidied-up, with the drain mesh relocated to three laser cut holes instead of an accordion construction between the pockets and the jersey itself. This contributes to the lower profile storm flap's fit, which in turn improves the overall profile of the jersey.
With the exception of the stretchy Nano Flex inserts in the underarms, the Perfetto's body is made from Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric. Windstopper X-Lite Plus has 1.4 billion impossibly small pores per square-inch that guard your microclimate jealously. They don't let wind in, but they do let moisture and water vapor out. This claim isn't just based on vague marketing copy, though—the science behind Windstopper X-Lite is measurable in a rating called CFM, which stands for cubic feet per minute, used to measure the volume of air that passes through a fabric in, you guessed it, one minute. In order to be considered truly "windproof," a fabric must register a CFM of equal to or less than 1.0. Windstopper X-Lite Plus actually beats this rating, so you're guaranteed a top that is literally classifiable as windproof.
While the Windstopper membrane is impressive, the Perfetto's key defining element is its race-minded fit. The sleeves are forward-oriented and the chest features an abbreviated fit compared to similar offerings from other manufacturers. The Perfetto feels a little tight across the chest while you're standing, but your body fills it out perfectly while stretched out on the bike. Compared to the Gabba, it sits even closer to your chest and stomach, eliminating the pregnant hippo look that so many of us despise in kit designed for cold or inclement weather.
The Nano Flex underarm inserts offer increased stretch and ventilation, which can be further supplemented with vertically oriented, zippered vents on either side of the front panel. Those vents seem inconsequential, but they're a surprisingly effective alternative to opening the front-zipper floodgates. The collar is articulated to eliminate looseness while you're in the saddle and the front zipper features an external flap. The Gabba's reflective stripes are replaced by Castelli branding on the storm flap, which is one of the few embellishments to an otherwise refreshingly minimalistic design.
Castelli recommends the Perfetto for use in the same temperature range as the Gabba: 43 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. As with the Gabba, many of us find that the mid-50s are a bit warm for this jersey, especially when hammering through intervals or riding at racing effort levels. Its peloton-worthy cut, insulating characteristics, and low claimed weight do recommend it for racing, just in the low-50s and below. Recreational cyclists or riders building low-intensity base miles will find that the Perfetto works comfortably into the high-50s, depending on personal temperature preferences.
- An update to the original race-cut, weather-resistant cycling jersey
- GORE Windstopper X-Lite Plus is breathable, all-weather protection
- Racing fit is cut to eliminate flapping material
- Wheel spray is deterred by the closer-fitting storm flap
- Zippered side vents dump heat during hard efforts
- Laser-cut mesh drains in the three rear pockets
- Reflective branding adds visibility in inclement conditions
- Castelli continues to redefine all-weather racing kit