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Location: Perthshire, Scotland & Snowdonia, Wales
Weather: Typical Mixed UK Spring & Summer
TESTER: Ben Giles
Our new Castelli range had barely arrived in stores this Spring when our resident roadie Ben from our Perth shop was on the phone looking to
test it out on a trip to Snowdonia. Big miles, big hills and potentially typical Welsh weather - what better way to see just how good it is? Here's Ben's take:
This season I have been fortunate enough to demo some of the new Castelli range that launched earlier in stores. So far, I have been very impressed with the
products, having been somewhat reluctant to stock them initially. The one item that has really changed my point of view is the Gabba jersey. This is by far one
of my favourite items of clothing now in my wardrobe.
The Gabba blurs the lines between a performance jersey and waterproof jacket. It has become my go to layer for working hard in inclement weather. The Gore Windstopper
face fabric blocks out virtually all the wind and goes a long way to keeping the moisture out without letting me cook. When I use it in conjunction with a lightweight
mesh base layer the true virtues of the Gabba can be experienced: the heat and perspiration that inevitably build up when riding at tempo is transferred through to the
outer layers of the fabric, keeping me dry and comfortable rather than sweating inside a rain jacket.
I tend to get a lot of my miles in early doors or late into the evening. As the Gabba is generally more pleasant to wear than a rain cape due to its cut and
softer material, it has been perfect for the damp evenings and soggy mornings that we have had this July. At the start of this season I was fortunate enough to be
in Snowdonia for a couple of weeks, attempting to get in as many vertical kilometres as possible before being engulfed in a blaze of lactic acid. The conditions
were rather damp with temperatures hovering around 7 – 15 degrees as to be expected in late spring. I tended to layer up with the Gabba in these conditions adding
a lightweight jersey, arm warmers and neck gaiter to provide a little more insulation. I put this to the test frequently riding up and over Pen-y-Pass on Snowdon,
Bwlch y Groes and the Devil's Staircase. During these climbs I was easily able to vent and remain at a comfortable temperature, whereas I think if I was wearing a
more traditional system (warm jersey and racecape) I would have overheated on the way up and suffered from significant windchill on the descents as my layers would
have been saturated in sweat. On the descents the high collar really helped to keep me snug and stopped the cold air rushing inside the jersey when I was deep in the drops.
This brings me onto the cut of the jersey. I like to ride fast. To ride fast you need layers that are low profile and don’t flap in the wind. The Gabba has a
nice athletic cut, is a little more generous across the shoulders than a standard jersey with a long back and tail flap that offers significant protection over your
backside. The neat and tidy profile of the jersey really makes me feel like my clothing isn’t dragging me backwards and that every last watt is going into the bike
not into flapping a jacket around like a windsock. This really is the fundamental reasoning behind the Gabba: wet nasty weather shouldn’t stop you from riding hard.
Wet weather clothing shouldn’t impede your speed yet it so frequently does. This is why the Gabba in my mind is a real game changer.
Not only was I lucky enough to demo a cracking jacket/jersey, I was also fortunate enough to try out a set of Castelli's Endurance bib-shorts. Now, working in
the bike industry I get the opportunity to grace my backside with some of the most premium and luxurious chamois pads currently on the market. The Endurance Bibs,
priced at £125, sit comfortably in the mid-priced bib line up. From my experience in them, Castelli have hit the nail on the head. These are just a solid pair of
bibs. I couldn’t fault them. I was a fan of the wide silicone leg gripper that kept the short in place and the slight compression through the main body of the leg.
The chamois was held snugly in place against my posterior by supportive but unrestrictive bib straps. Castelli are renowned for their snug fits in shorts and these
are no exception. I would strongly recommend sizing up. Being used to a slightly racier fit and a being very twiggy roadie without a waist I was happy in a size
medium however would have equally been happy in the large when I wear a small in most other brands. Being a fairly lightweight short, dry times are kept to a minimum,
making them perfect for soggy conditions. Again, when paired with warmers they are transformed into adequate bibs for three season conditions.
To summarise, the kit that I was testing has become my go-to outfit for riding hard in changeable conditions. If I wasn’t lucky enough to keep the Gabba I would
happily be looking to purchase one for myself. I would strongly recommend the kit to anyone that trains hard or races in all the conditions that are thrown at us in the UK.
Thanks to Ben for giving our new Castelli kit a thorough test in all weathers. Head to Instagram to see more of
Ben's adventures, and pop in to our Perth store to get the best advice for your cycling endeavours.
Alpine Bikes are proud to work alongside Trek Bicycles & Bontrager to bring you the biggest range of bikes, apparel and equipment in Scotland. Whether you
want to test yourself on the road, feel the thrill of speed through the forest, or pack your bags for a big tour, we've got you covered. Pop into your local
Alpine Bikes store to see the full range.
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