You will remember that I was fairly gushing in relation to my praise of the Castelli Alpha Jersey. I do think it’s one of the great pieces of clothing from any manufacturer. It does all that it claims to do and goes beyond. You can easily use it for 3 seasons of the year.
You may be aware of the Perfetto jersey and, if you are, you know what comparison is coming. The Gabba, again. For all things must be judged against the Gabba. But, as I’ve also said before, it’s unfair to do that. It’s unfair because not everything needs to be a Gabba and it’s not necessarily the Goldilocks garment that the collective subconscious believes it to be. And I lay the legend of the Gabba squarely at the feet of the internet. Castelli never made the healing of the sick properties that it now appears to be imbued with.
So I approach this review with that comparison in mind. It’s fairly clear that this is truly intended as Gabba lite. Even Castelli make that claim this time around “It was the pros who first asked for a Gabba that’s not as hot as the Gabba but warmer than the Fawesome Vest. So we started from the Gabba and made the back in Nano Light fabric — the same fabric as our Nano Flex tights but without the brushed fleece inside. This gives the piece a lot of breathability and keeps you from overheating inside. We further lightened it up by using a lighter weight of Windstopper® (a full 25% lighter than the one used on the Gabba) on the front.”
Ok, I have a bit of a problem. They took the Gabba then ditched the Gore X-Lite and replaced it with Gore 150. They took out the back and replaced it with nano light. Umm, thematic approach to foul weather aside, what’s actually left of the Gabba other than the look of the Gabba?
See, the thing is, that lighter Gore windstopper, that comes from the Alpha. Nano light? It’s the light version of the nano warm from the Alpha (but we’ll return to that later). In terms of genetics this is an Alpha minus its inner insulation and half of its sleeves. But then genetics is weird anyway, you and I share 50% of our DNA with a banana.
Does this sound negative? It’s not meant to. When I reviewed the Alpha I said that, in my view, it was actually better at keeping the rain out than the Gabba. I know that goes against Castelli’s 5 dot rating for both garments but I still consider it to be true based on my experience. And remember that any windproof membrane that’s described as water resistant will hold on a hell of a lot longer than you might give it credit for. So I’m actually delighted to find the Alpha’s windstopper 150 in use here as it’s a terrific piece of fabric. I don’t know how much of a success the Alpha has been, though I suspect its sales are nowhere near the Gabba, so perhaps Castelli’s description of this as a “Gabba lite” (my spin) is a shrewd marketing one.
Anyway, Perfetto. It means perfect. It’s a grand claim and I wonder where it fits into new consumer legislation. It’s also a new direction for Castelli. The Gabba is dead, sort of. Only the short sleeve Gabba, the “original and the best,”, will continue to exist. The long sleeve Gabba becomes the Perfetto long sleeve and the short sleeve reviewed here is the, umm, Perfetto short sleeve. The Fawesome vest will become the Perfetto vest. And that’s all a bit confusing as well given that the long sleeve Perfetto (Gabba) will be quite dissimilar from the short sleeve Perfetto.
So, we’ve got all the confusing stuff out of the way. Let’s have a look at this new beast. It claims to be perfect so it damn well better be.
The Perfetto comes in 5 colours and retails for £125.00. That’s a little cheaper than the short sleeve Gabba. Whatever colour you choose the back is always black. It’s light. Really really light. 257g apparently for a large. Save that mine comes out at 247g for the XL. You could actually scrunch it up pretty small as well, though I’ve no idea why you’d want or need to.
And sizing? OK, it’s tight. No, really really tight. I mean, I ordered an XL which is described as for being up to 41.5 inches. I am currently 40.5 inches. There should be room. But this is Castelli who are, of course, on the Italian side of sizing (with apologies to those Italian brands that are not!). At the very least I should be able to buy an XL and get a similar fit to the Gabba or Alpha. Nope. It’s race fit. Just be aware of that. I’ve said before that it doesn’t matter to me whether I am an XL, L or M in clothing just that I should expect to be the same thing with the same company where possible. If you want a race fit version of this get your normal Gabba size (assuming you have one). If you want a bit less fitted get the next one up. If you’re between sizes definitely get the next size up. By way of comparison I’ve laid the XL Perfetto over my L Parentini Mossa. And when I finally found my measuring tape it comes out at just under 20 inches from pit to pit. Bear in mind though that the 150 will stretch side to side quite a lot and the nano fabric is insanely stretchy. You will get a good fit, it just depends what you want that fit to be.
I had a look at the pictures on Wiggle, that’s a tight fit but with some wiggle room (sorry). The review on road.cc is much more my experience of the fit. Painted on.
Of course, the point to a garment such as this is that it should be fitted. With it against your skin you will perspire against the garment and it will breathe out that sweat. Similarly the skin tight effect will help the garment shed water as there will be no wrinkles in which it can collect. The added bonus to sizing up is that you will squeeze a base layer in but, for me, this is a jersey and should be able to be worn without. So that’s how it will be tested.
It’s a striking looking thing, particularly in the red I chose. It screams performance from its very fibre. Despite its limited colourway I think it’s a good looking thing. The requisite amount of scorpione are present.
And there are some nice little details as well. More scorpione on a really good zip and a reminder, just in case you forget, that this is foul weather gear, sorry, race equipment.
As stated the back is black. Now, it’s a bit of a quandary if you like your visibility. But the nice reflective stripe is present along with yet another scorpion. I don’t think it’s possible to have too many of them personally. That nano lite fabric is proprietary. It’s amazing. It has a slight but perceptible squash to it. It’s DWR treated of course so, for a while at least, water should run off. While it is nano in name I’m not actually sure, contrary to my earlier statement, that is shares much DNA with the nano warm of the Alpha. Whatever it is, it’s great.
Like the Gabba the pockets are perforated with mesh underneath and this will allow any water, which has run down your back, to get out. I liked this about the Gabba, asked for it on the Mossa and it’s good to see it present here. Now, I don’t know what kind of torrent it takes for such a thing to be necessary but it can’t hurt. The back pockets are also made from the nano lite. They are very elastic and sometimes getting stuff in and out isn’t as easy as it could be. They look like they will stand up to punishment though.
Like the Gabba, but unlike the Alpha, the front is a rouched elastic section with grippers. It’s similarly tight but it’s comfortable once done up. You may have noticed that there’s no protection for the zip either by way of a storm flap or reverse sealing. That’s fine, in practice whilst it may be that tiny bit less water resistant or windproof it’s going to be very small margins.
The collar is lined with a fabric mesh to provide a bit more warmth and some comfort away from the main material. It’s free to move around as well being only sewn in at the seams.
Anyhow, minor irritations aside in relation to naming, description and sizing, I think it’s pretty great looking and really does make you want to get out there and ride in (foul weather) in it. Because the windstopper 150 is a bit less stretchy overall there’s a one more sizing niggle and that is the arms. They’re super tight, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that once you put your arms out the under arm section stretches out flat rather than moving with you creating a small pocket of air. I wonder whether further extending the nano light fabric into this region would have been more comfortable without sacrificing any performance. The neck is very good but perhaps slightly looser than it might need to be which is a little incongruous given the sizing of the rest of the garment.
But here’s the thing. For all my little whinges above, and they are little, once on the bike it fits like a shield. Personally I’d prefer it to be a cm or so looser but that’s very personal, so get the one you like the fit of after trying on the available sizes. If you do want to wear a base layer (and I don’t think you need one) then you may well need to size up. None of the tightness is in any way constricting and the arm issue is irrelevant on the bike. It just goes to show that you really need to try stuff on the bike to know. Thing is that’s often quite difficult with a bloody great set of windstopper labels attached to the front zip. Once they’re off you’re left with a used garment.
Castelli’s “comfort range” indicator claims that this is a jersey that should work from 10-20 degrees C. So that’s what I used it in. Pretty much. True to form I wanted to see how low it would go and when I set out for work it was about 6 degrees. In that it coped admirably. It’s windstopper, by Gore, what did you expect? I caned the commute in and averaged about 18mph. A quick commute by most day’s standards. What often happens is that I need to put whatever I’ve worn by the window to dry out. But not the Perfetto. It was bone dry in every area that normally gets a bit damp. Shoulders and arms were dry, the back section was dry, chest was dry. There were a few water droplets on my phone which had been in the back pocket. That was it. In terms of breathability at low temps (the ride warmed up to about 12 degrees by the end) it does what it claims, bit of insulation, tons of breathability.
But it was the way home that I wanted to try. 18-20 degrees, the top of the range. Can you really wear something that will keep you dry in a shower in, essentially, average UK summer temps? Can it still breathe? Do you die in your own sweat?
Surprisingly you really can wear this in high (by our standards) temperatures. Now, I would never ever set out on a 20 degree dry ride in the sun in this, I mean, why the hell would you? But if it’s that spring/summer day with big temperature variables the fact that you won’t overheat at 20 degrees is what swings it, though much depends on how long it stays 20 degrees for. You can stow it, but, really, why would you? So, on the way home I caned it even more. 20 degrees, 19.5 mph average, just under 1000 ft of climbing. Sure it was warmer than a normal jersey, sure I would have preferred a normal jersey. But it was fine. Better than fine in fact when I took it off, there was absolutely no dampness at all. That’s pretty incredible really and I guarantee you won’t get that on the Gabba at those temps. If the day is mid temp, with some dampness and you think it might get warmer, fine. If it’s forecast to be 20, just take a gilet in case you need some protection.
If you wear it tight and don’t wear a base layer I could see how, for example, the arms might start being a bit sticky, but that can be mitigated by size choice.
So far, so good. So far, not perfect, depending on what you want it for, but close to being so. The real genius to the Perfetto isn’t the gore windstopper, it isn’t the fit, it’s actually that stuff round the back. That stuff is incredible in terms of ventilation, really properly good.
One more thought? Is it warmer than the Fawesome. Now, you’ve got me there. The Fawesome is X-lite rather than 150 and I always found the Fawesome to be pretty warm actually. So I don’t know I’d agree with that and, given how small a Fawesome can bundle down, it remains a damn good option in the spring/summer/rain. In fact I’d say the sizing on the Perfetto is a bit like the Fawesome which always ran a bit small(er) as well. In fact I wonder whether sales might get a bit carved up across the board. If you want a long sleeve Gabba for the cold times (and I still think you’d be better with a Mossa for those) then what’s the short sleeve for? Racing? Perfetto should do that. It may be that these little niches within niches are getting a little too nichey.
So, what’s missing from my review? Well, rain. Sorry, you’ll have to wait till Monday/Tuesday for that when I will venture out once more and suffer for my art. We know it’s going to work, it’s a windstopper with DWR. The question will be whether it can balance the warmth, perspiration and incoming rain. I will update when it’s all done.
UPDATE: Any good in the rain? Yeah, I wore it for a ride of just over 2 1/2 hours in on and off rain and temps of about 16-17 degrees and it works exactly as described really. It will keep rain off for ages and, eventually, while it might find its way in you will remain warm and, crucially, not too warm. What’s very interesting is just how water “proof” the respective fabrics appear to be.
The top picture is the Gore150. As you can see it just won’t pass through, I left it like that for about 1/2 hour and it was still pooled there. What really surprised me was the the rear which is not really a windstopper or membrane. Again the water just sat there, no leakage. It’s not a particularly high tech approach to embedding rain repellent, just a coating, but it works. It will eventually wash out a bit but you can always re-proof it. Any good for rain riding? Yep. Does exactly what it sets out to do. Though, don’t expect magical properties here. Eventually you’ll get wet from the inside and the seams will show signs of ingress.
But, that sizing. I’m going to have to speak to someone about it. Mine measured just under 40 inches on the chest as stated above. I couldn’t figure out why it was tight. But the waist, claimed to be for a 36 1/2 waist measures only 30 inches all round. That means that the taper from chest to waist is a little un-natural (on me). Worse still I asked someone with a large to measure theirs and theirs appears to be bigger (particularly in the waist) to my XL. I will see what Castelli have to say.