Prendas Long Sleeve Anniversary Jersey : the Art of the Jersey

Many years ago I started cycling and bought some cheap team kit. I was oblivious to the rules. But there were real advantages to buying the kit that I found, it was cheap, it wore well, it was nice. The kit in question was CSC Nobili kit and I thought I was the man. That was 2005. 12 years later and I don’t think that kit has yet reached retro status yet. It’s not awfully special, perhaps it never will. But I remember it pretty fondly as my first ‘proper’ cycling jersey. A few months later I bought a white world champion jersey, knowing no better. Once again it was cheap, and comfy and I thought it looked great. Then the council resurfaced a local road. Cue the end of that jersey, a pair of tyres and some pretty hefty scratches on my chainstays. Fast forward, I learnt the rules. I eschewed team kit and went for, well, something a little more boring…..

Personal evolution is a funny thing. You start oblivious to the rules, learn them, fervently respect them, then say screw them. I really don’t care anymore, I wear what I want and what feels right. Retro for retro sake isn’t always successful but it’s fair to say that the guys at Prendas have turned the identification of what constitutes good retro into a bit of an art form.

I’ve always been fascinated by jersey design. The variation is enormous for what is essentially a fancy t-shirt with a zip. And if I’m fascinated by that wealth of design then for Prendas’ Andy Storey it’s practically a religion. He literally wrote the book on it.

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Click to buy for £15.99

It’s a fascinating read through the evolution of the cycling jersey from the first wool jerseys shorn (sic) of the rampant sponsorship of the modern jersey bang up to date. It isn’t every jersey, but it does cover all the important ones with commentary from Andy on each page. It’s an excellent read with a nod to the design ethos sprinkled with a bit of history. Within those pages lurk a variety of jerseys that were either stupidly cool to begin with or have gained cult status over the years. And it’s from those that Prendas have built a huge following in recreating iconic jerseys.

They’ve always had a knack for identifying the iconic ones, the Mapei, the (Lemond) Z, the Molteni, the La Vie Claire, the Reynolds and, my current fave, the GIS Gelati. And there’s a hell of a choice, as you can see here Prendas Cycle Jerseys

Because the majority are made by Santini and because Prendas’ size guides are great it’s easy to predict getting the right size. And, once you do, it’s then easy to order another design in that size knowing that the new one will fit.

Prendas have been doing this stuff for 20 years from that place down gravel lane in Poole. Even that has retro charm. Down gravel lane is part of the address. And in celebration of that 20 years they’ve recently launched the Anniversary Jersey. If you don’t fancy a long sleeve right now then there’s a short sleeve version, bibshorts, caps and socks (click here)

I’m currently rocking the roubaix fleece backed long sleeve version in an XL. That’s sized for 39-41 chest. It’s accurate so there’s no surprise when you order. Prendas have always been super helpful in relation to sizing, so if there’s an issue, drop them a line.

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It’s a striking orange thing. Which is nice, as it matches my new Giro Empire VR90 slippers, watch for a review of them soon. Being made by Santini and having Prendas’ name on it is pretty much a cast iron guarantee of quality. Stitching is excellent and I have no doubt that this will last for many years. It washed predictably, dries quickly and is just the perfect spring/autumn piece.

Indeed, I gave it a bit of a baptism of fire doing back to back 30 and 40 milers on one particular day into some particularly nasty headwinds and finding every muddy back lane it was possible to come across. Armed only with a short sleeve base layer underneath. And it performed very well indeed, keeping me warm, snugly and, crucially, the accumulated road grime was easy to remove with a 14 minute cool wash.

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The ska and dogtooth patterns are a nice addition to this design. The Mrs remarked that I looked like a policeman. On the roads, that’s not really a bad thing. Prendas signature stripes are all present and correct. You can see the micro roubaix fleece in the pics above. This isn’t a jersey for the coldest winter days but given how rare they are, this is something that you’ll get a lot of use from.

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Round the back and we have a tidy array of pockets including a central zipped one. There’s no weather proofing here but that makes no appreciable difference. If you’re running sans mudguards I’d always recommend that a phone be put in a bag anyway. Sleeve length is generous and will cater for those with longer arms without drowning those with shorter ones. The waist gripper is simple, straightforward and effective.

This is a good design, visible, and distinctive. It’s a suitable commemoration of a remarkable little supplier that just gets on with being great on a daily basis. If you don’t want this colour, then a Molteni, Rocket or La Vie Claire are one of the other long sleeve jerseys available. All will be similarly if not identically sized so you can buy with confidence. The price is a very reasonable £69.99 with the short sleeve (non thermal) variants being between £55-£59. That represents great value for some vibrant reproductions which are comfortable, durable and smart.

I’ve been once again impressed by Prendas’ offerings. This is a no nonsense roubaix jersey that does what it says on the tin. It performs well, looks good and is great value. Here’s to another 20 years, at least.

Of course, evolution is also about moving forward not just updating and, with that in mind, I’ve just received a supply of Andy Storey’s new chamois cream, a side project he’s set up called ontherivet. You can buy some of that here. And, if you used the code StoreyRT at the moment it’ll take 20% off the RRP of £9.99. I used this for the first time on the weekend at Battle on the Beach and, can I say, that’s a damn good test of a chamois cream given the huge differences in surfaces, constant in and out of the saddle and the fact that riding singletrack on a CX bike really does cause havoc to those parts. It smells nice, goes on easy and works very well. Indeed, my only real concern, with all chamois cream, is that it may well last a little too long. So I guess I need to get out more this year so I can order more and keep what’s a fantastic new project going. Andy tells me there are plans for other things such as embrocation in due course, so keep a look out for that. And never, ever get them mixed up.

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Let’s get straight to it. This is a lovely lovely thing. And let’s also deal with the other thing. I have absolutely no knowledge of F1 and no interest in it. But, from what I can tell, Petronas Mercedes do appear to have the nicest colour scheme and that’s reflected here. So, yeah, there’s some branding on this. For me, I’m entirely neutral on it. If you’re a Ferrari fan, it might be an issue.

Anyhow, you will remember that I adore the Assos Falkenzahn Gilet. It is without equal because, well, no one else makes anything remotely like it. But it was never cheap, not even in the sales. And while the Team Vest is not a Falkenzahn and it’s still not what you could call cheap per se, there’s enough genealogy here to suggest that this is, like the new Mille Intermediate Jersey, if not a repositioning of Assos as a budget brand, then another effort to make parts of the range a little more affordable.

There’s not a lot of information out there about the Team Vest and it’s not that easy to get hold of. You can order it straight from Assos themselves (and it does come very quickly) and there are a few other UK stockists as well. It’s got an RRP of £120 which is certainly not cheap but it’s considerably cheaper than the Falkenzahn and certainly in line with the other premium brands.

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Once again Assos take a different approach. This isn’t a rain proof or even rain resistant shell. It’s not even windproof. It’s a thermal gilet and that’s actually quite a rare proposition. In some ways it’s a product that shouldn’t exist because it shouldn’t actually work. Where the Falkenzahn is high tech and proprietary Assos make no grand claims for this. And that’s fine, it’s all about the performance after all. What we have a is a 3 season thermal gilet. 4 if you count the fact that true winter has all but disappeared in the UK.

One of the sublime things about the Falkenzahn was just how springy and form fitting it was. And despite this essentially being ‘only’ roubaix backed polymix none of that incredible fit has been lost. Once again I ordered the XL (I tend to size up with most of the Assos range, new Mille aside) and it’s perfect. And not only is it a perfect fit, like the Falkenzahn it has an incredible ability to mesh seamlessly with any other garment in the Assos range. So, chuck the Team Jersey underneath and you’re sorted for spring/summer and those cooler mornings. You can get the Intermediate jersey under there and it looks like it was all designed to fit together. You can even squeeze the Tiburu jersey under and tough out some of the colder winter days. It’s also a pretty great under warmer for something like the Habu jacket. This is testament to Assos’ ALS system which ensures that all layering fits properly together.

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One of the things I particularly like about the Team Vest is the high collar. Once again it’s pretty stretchy and form fitting. The black shoulder panels are a carry over from the Falkenzahn, a waffly fabric that retains a little more heat despite their lightweight construction. The arm sections are elasticated and trimmed all the way round. It’s oh so comfy.

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The internal structure is a roubaix type fleece. It’s fairly thin but that’s all you really need. It makes it that bit more versatile as you can’t overheat in it. Indeed, you can probably get away with this into the upper teens in the summer without having to stow it. You can stow it as well, though it’s not the most packable thing out there.

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Around the back and we have three nice deep pockets and a single reflective band. Really deep pockets actually, so you can stow a load of your kit in here. It would make a pretty good audax vest in that respect. Or a cool weather sportive companion.

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I’ve been using this extensively over the last few weeks including some days sans mudguards. Being white (in places) it will pick up some road grime but it cleans very well. I’ve used it down to about 0 degrees with a Tiburu jersey (review of that coming soon) and it’s superb. Despite the lack of any windproofing you can’t feel any wind coming through and your chest remains warm. Cooler mornings that become milder days are easily taken care of as well. It’s hugely versatile, great looking and, of course, built to last. Despite the cheaper price, nothing about Assos’ quality has been lost in the transition.

I’ve used my own money to buy both the Falkenzahn and Team Vest so I’m well qualified to comment on which I would buy if I could only buy one. And, despite the F1 branding, my view is that the Team Vest is perfection. If I had to own only one, it would be this.

But, my plea to Assos is to make it accessible for everyone. Keep the team one for the diehards, get a ‘plain’ version out there for everyone else. A bi colour version aping the current Falkenzahn design would probably sell very well. It might even be, copyright issues allowing, that a checkerboard colourway without the branding would be a good look.

My perception is that there’s a subtle shift at Assos towards a larger range of products that cater for more pockets. The new Mille Intermediate Jersey is an absolute winner. This Team Vest is superb. I’m currently using the new Mille ‘entry level’ bibshorts (which have replaced the Neo Pro) and they are also amazing and cheaper than even the old Uno were. There are some gaps. A more affordable full on rain jacket and, notably, some form of Gabba. If they ever get round to making such a thing, watch out.

But, for now, this will do very nicely indeed. It might actually be my new favourite thing. But, the thing is, I will shortly have to tell you all about the Tiburu shorts, and those are very special indeed.

Funkier Merano K Pro Base Layer

You might have come across Funkier on sites such as Chain Reaction and Merlin Cycles. It’s good value stuff. Funkier actually started off as a women’s clothing brand and branched out into cycling gear. So they’ve got experience in putting stuff together and great knowledge of materials. It’s an American company, based in Wisconsin.

I’ve been testing their Merano base layer over the last couple of months. And it’s been a very nice thing to wear. Base layers vary widely between your traditional merino, to synthetic wool-a-like to the ‘Under Armour’ type compression gear. And Funkier’s Merano is very much from that latter school of base layers.

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When it arrives, you wonder how on earth it can fit you, it’s much smaller than me. I opted for a a L/XL size on my 39.5″ chest and it really is ‘poured on.’ But it’s also very comfortable indeed. The stretch on it is outstanding.

The Merano is a synthetic mix; Nylon makes up most of the material mixed with Elastane and Polyester. It stretches wonderfully and feels great next to the skin. It’s very well sized as as well. The arms are absolutely perfect on me and there’s a little added length in the body to tuck into your winter bibs or tights. There’s quite a bit of useful tech going on here but, broadly, it’s quick drying, very well ventilated and, above all, warm.

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The patterning is fairly unique. I can’t say that I can perceive any real difference between the different parts of the design but I can say that it holds its shape very well. Despite giving the appearance of a multi panelled affair the base layer is actually an all in one and absolutely seamless. So there’s no irritation caused by wearing it for long hours. And that’s pretty important as the compressive nature of the base layer means that it will be in close contact with your skin.

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Turn it inside out and you can see that it’s not fleecy but there’s a certain warmth to the material.

This is actually a very well priced base layer but there’s a slight wrinkle with current availability. It does appear quite hard to come by in the UK at the moment. Merlin have the ‘older’ model for £35.99 but in limited sizes. There are some on ebay (again the older one). So the best bet at the moment is to buy direct from Funkier themselves for $39.99. There’s a ten dollar shipping charge so that all comes out at about £39 assuming no customs charges. Alternatively an email to UK importer Bob Elliot might be in order.

Anyhow, how is it? Well, it’s pretty great actually. Although it takes a very different path to being warm than, for example, the Helly Hansen wool or the Craft Warm, it performs very well indeed. In fact, though I referred to it as being from the ‘Under Armour’ school earlier on it comfortably exceeds the warmth of one of their ‘cold’ base layers.

One of the other pluses to the Merano is that because of the close fit, it’s a tidy base layer to wear underneath a short sleeve jersey on those cool spring days. It creates the look of a jersey plus arm warmers. And despite the warmth it creates it’s never over powering. Breathability is always top notch. It’s also a pretty versatile thing. I’ve been using it under running jerseys and it would also make a pretty great football or rugby base layer as well.

This is an excellent base layer and well worth investing in even as we come to the start of more spring like conditions. I’ll see if I can find some more links to where you can buy.

Giro Factor ACC shoes

Tough crowd. Imagine breaking into new markets. It’s not easy. Yeah, it helps if you’re an established brand that’s demonstrably associated with cycling, but getting into a market segment is still a big ask.

That’s what Giro, better known for their helmets, did back in 2011 when they decided to get into the cycling shoe market. Not just road shoes either, the whole shebang. They’re still at it today, trying to break into the clothing market. And, to date, it’s been a pretty successful transition in all cases.

When Giro released the original Factors back in 2011 I was at the front of the queue, drawn to the good looks, light weight and bling factor. So I bought a pair of the original white Factor shoes with their supernatural fit system. And they were sublime, lasted me for an age. Eventually they made way for some Rapha Condor Sharp versions which, for me, remain just one of the best looking cycling shoes ever made. I’ve owned the Trans as well, and the Treble. I’ve done commuting and CX in the Gauge and Code. Looking back, it seems I’ve owned more Giro shoes than from any other manufacturer.

And I had the Empire SLX in Orange. With the laces. And that’s the other thing Giro do. Make….stuff…..cool. So when they got Taylor Phinney to wear them in the Peloton everyone went wild. It’s not the case that they brought  laces back, others had been doing it. But Giro were the only ones to make it really work as a commercial proposition. And now everyone’s doing it. But nothing touches the SLX in terms of style. And no off road shoe looks like the VR90 either. So you might ask, why don’t I still own the SLX? It was nothing to do with fit or ability, I swapped to a CX bike on the road for a year or so and just wore MTB shoes. So off they went.

Fast forward and, when I spend my time on the road, in the dry, hot days of summer, I wanted something a bit blingier than my trusty Shimano R171. Something a tad lighter as well. So I went back, as it were, to the beginning. Personally I still prefer buckles over laces but that’s a personal thing. If laces are your style, get the SLX, you won’t be sorry.

The Giro Factor AAC are in the process of being replaced. The new Techlace version are the de facto replacement. But the shoes are very similar in terms of the last and upper fit and there are so many good deals on the Factor at the moment that I thought I’d bring you this review.

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Like most things cycling, making stuff isn’t that difficult a concept. You want a light weight shoe that breathes and that fits you well. Pulling it off is hard because we are all so very different. I take a 45 in the Giro. In terms of sizing I’d say they’re pretty normal. I’m a 44 in ‘everyday shoes’ but a 45 in most of my trainers. To that extent I’m wary of saying size up. But, in comparison with my other shoes, they are pretty much the same. They’re a nice snug fit in the main body but the toe box is, for me, a tad wider than some of the Italian brands. And that’s a good thing. They’re available in white/black, as reviewed here, white/red and all black.

Unlike the SLX this is good, old school buckle system territory. Two velcro straps and one ratchet buckle. The straps and buckles are replaceable but the top flap (where the Giro is sited) is not. But, in use, it’s a very durable system indeed. It’s easy to get the fit you want with the Factors. There’s no fancy heel system like you see on a Sidi. There are no internal grippy bits at the heels. Indeed, the heels are actually a little shorter than on comparable shoes. And you know what? It makes absolutely no difference. Providing you get the correct size you will not experience any heel lift whatsoever in a Giro Factor, which is important, given how stiff they are.

The upper is a microlight fibre. It’s not leather. It’s pretty resilient overall to bumps and scrapes. Crucially, it wipes clean very easily indeed. It’s great to see that Giro opted for a black lining, especially at the ankles. There’s no worse look than an otherwise pristine white shoe with faded or dirty inner white lining. Shoe makes, take note, it’s not big and it’s not clever.

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The upper is covered in multiple perforations. This is a good shoe for the summer as it breathes very well. There are vents underneath, which I’ll come to in a bit. It’s certainly usable in winter but, guys, keep them for the good days. The buckle operation is straightforward and these are adjustable on the fly. The bottom lever pulls out and ratchets the strap tighter. The upper level pushes in and releases the tension. Altering the velcro while riding is a piece of cake.

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But it’s the soles that are the soul of these shoes. A lightweight carbon fibre sole provided by carbon experts Easton. There are a number of different types. This is the ACC version, found in the Factor. The Techlace ditches it and uses a new SLX2 sole which is even lighter again and it that sole found in the uber light Empire model. The lesser models go for fibre reinforced soles. All are stiff but the EC90 variants are incredibly so.

The rear heel bumper is now replaceable (the original versions didn’t have this). The front one is not. But it should see you through loads of use. There are useful guidelines for clear positioning and, as stated, a nice little vent at the front. That means air in. It also means water in but, come on, these are not for rain! They’ll do rain, of course. They wipe clean and the fibre does not shrink. That can’t be said for other shoes. The sole is a work of art and always has been. In my view Giro/Easton have nailed it. The weight of EACH shoe in size 45 with Shimano cleats installed is 328g so sub 600g the pair without. If you want to go lighter then the Techlace shave about 50g off at the same size and, as you’d expect, the SLX a whole lot more.

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I’ve opted to use the  Giro Prolight insole in mine but the Factors are supplied with Giro’s excellent Supernatural Fit System which allows you to insert different arch supports depending on your foot type. The insole uses Giro’s x-static coating for bacterial prevention. I have to say, Giro have never skimped the provided insole and other manufacturers might learn a thing or two in this regard.

Price? It’s broadly irrelevant now in terms of RRP but they were £249.99. That’s actually very good in comparison to those premium marques who charge more and from which you gain no more. They’ll last for ages and they are about the most comfortable shoes out there. At the moment their pricing varies but I’ve managed to find a bit of stock at Sigma Sport where there’s good availability in a number of sizes at the price of £124.99. That is a bargain. They also have the black if that’s your sort of thing. But, if they are out of stock of your size, then a bit of googling should show up some good results. If you fancy the bling then hunt down some SLX and if you fancy some BOA fastening goodness then the Techlace should be on your list. It’s interesting to see that in only a few years Giro not only broke into the market but pretty much owned it.

Truestart Hero Energy Bars

You might recall that I was a big fan of Truestart Coffee when I first came across their wares in the Fuelit Selection Box last year. While I am, like most cyclists, a purveyor of ‘proper coffee’ I have to say that I found their instant coffee not only tremendously effective but also great tasting coffee.

And I’m happy to say that the company has been going from strength to strength over the last year winning many awards and building #teamtruestart, a hugely impressive collection of sporting individuals. Their coffee has become widely available in all the major stockists and the brand is booming on social media, a testament to the indefatigable nature of owners Helena and Simon Hills and their team.

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But it’s one thing selling coffee, it’s quite another breaking into a crowded energy bar market. That said, it all tends to get a little over complicated on occasion, all you really need is a decent energy hit, long lasting if possible, easy to handle on the move and easily eaten. Now I’ve laid that out there it does seem a little harder I guess.

The raison d’etre to the Hero bars is the same as the coffee, a controlled, precise caffeine hit, so it doesn’t matter which flavour you choose, you’ll get 95mg of natural caffeine in each bar, the same as one scoop of their coffee. Let’s do perspective, that’s a bigger caffeine shot than a normal can of Red Bull and marginally more than a shot of Costa Espresso (other coffee shops are available). And it’s guaranteed to be 95mg every……single…..time. I won’t bore you with science but there’s some pretty good evidence out there that caffeine consumption during exercise encourages your body to use fat cells as energy rather than glycogen. So consuming caffeine before or during tends to aid endurance. And as yet no-one’s been doing much in the way of adding this level of caffeine to energy bars or gels.

There are 4 flavours available each being with each consisting of a ‘main flavour’ plus coffee. So we have Coffee and Cherry, Coffee and Peanut Butter, Coffee and Beetroot and Arabica. The observant amongst you will note that, essentially, the last one is Coffee only. Each 43g bar is pretty much the same in terms of kcals (200 or so) and each of them is gluten free. The ingredients vary but chiefly they consist of oats, seeds, nuts and TrueStart Performance Coffee, bound with coconut oil and agave nectar.

It’s quite interesting to read the genesis of the product in Helena’s blog which can be found here.

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The coffee arabica is, naturally, the most coffee tasting of the bunch. The coffee cherry is what it says on the wrapper, cherry like without being synthetic tasting.

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Beetroot has become quite a big thing in energy products now. It tastes good and defies what you might expect. But my overall favourite has to be the peanut butter version. With that hint of coffee in the background it’s spot on.

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These are easy to carry and easy to eat. There’s no stubborn packaging to wrestle with, the bar comes out easy, it’s moist, chewy and not sticky. There’s no mess in the wrapper when you roll it up and put it back in your jersey pocket. They taste excellent, the energy provision is good and that caffeine hit should provide a useful pick me up deep into that endurance ride.

Pricing is excellent. £21.48 for a box of 12 (£1.79 each). At the moment you need to make a choice in terms of flavours as you can’t mix and match.

I’m impressed. These do everything I need them to do on a long ride. They taste great, they’re easy to handle, they don’t create any mess and they’re good value. Getting that caffeine hit to keep you going is a big bonus. I’ve quite a few of them to get through so I guess I need to get out on some big rides now. That’ll also stop me eating them in the house as, actually, they’re a damn good snack as well.

Click here to purchase Hero bars

Click here to purchase coffee

Oh and, Primal make team kit as well!

Castelli Espresso 4 winter jacket

This one’s been a staple in the Castelli winter range for a while now. The go to winter jacket. Castelli say this of it: “Everything Castelli does is somehow designed to make you faster. Think of this as your go-fast-in-July jacket. We didn’t make it aero, so it’s not going to help you win the club training rides in January. What we did is include every creature comfort to help you get in as much training as you can stand over the winter.”

You may have noticed that I occasionally disagree with what manufacturers say about their product. And I’ve certainly been critical of Castelli’s claims before, but mostly in their favour. And, shock, I think I might disagree with them to an extent here. Get the correct size, and I’ll come back to that, and there’s no reason why you can’t be aero in this. All while being super warm and having those creature comforts that they claim.

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It’s a bright young thing. I confess my Samsung S7 was turned to pro and vivid but it’s still a pretty realistic impression of its sheer redness. If red isn’t your thing (we Welsh are pretty fond of it) then there’s blue, black or mirage. Castelli seem awfully fond of mirage now. I have to say I have no idea what mirage is though it does seem to be teal, whatever that is. With Castelli teal does appear to be the new black.

Anyhow, the Espresso is pure softshell and always has been. Pure, heavyweight fleece lined softshell. It’s windstopper as well and is supplied, in common with most of Castelli’s products, by Gore. It’s the X-Fast fabric which is said to be water resistant and windproof. Both claims are, by some margin, satisfied. I’ve noted previously that all windstopper fabrics will be water resistant to an extent. The Espresso shuns rain very effectively indeed. It’s not sealed, of course, so water will find it’s own way in the end. The softshell element extends all the way round the jacket. This doesn’t take the approach of Assos’ Bonka which trades its rear for a lighter and more breathable panel.

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What’s not awfully obvious in all the press shots is the shoulder articulation. The sleeves are not joined at the shoulder or underarm instead converging inside the jacket and achieving a potentially greater level of articulation and breathability. It also helps it look, well a bit Star Trek, and that, in my book, is no bad thing. Indeed, it’s interesting that Castelli might pitch itself as Kirk where Assos’ venerable Airjack 851 was clearly inspired by that other space franchise and not the light side. You might see a touch of the Zapp Brannigan as well, I couldn’t possibly comment. It’s a really nice touch and it works very effectively to vent what is otherwise a wraparound. There’s pocket on the chest as well for, well, more valuable items I guess. There’s no shortage of storage here.

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The shoulders aren’t the only vent. The side of the chest region has a zipped vent on each side which is lined. If you do get a bit hot it’s easy to create a bit more airflow. The zip is on the small side so achieving this with big gloves might not be all that easy. It’s an effective old school solution. If it’s raining it does provide a bigger target of course.

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The collar is a lovely thing. It’s high enough without being too high. The zipper here IS operable with thick gloves. It’s fleece lined and the rear section is, in common with many Castelli jackets now, articulated to allow for an even better fit. Castelli seem to get the collar sections better than most other manufacturers. It’s an important area in my view.

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The cuffs are the same as those seen on the innovative Potenza jersey using the crosswrap design. I’m a fan of these. They’re sufficiently insulating without creating that moistness that really thick sleeve endings can cause in full on winter jackets. You can see the fleeciness of the interior in the photos above as well.

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The back has three big pockets with enough capacity for all those winter things. There’s a reflective strip round the bottom (and round the front) and the piping on the shoulders is also reflective. The rear hem is an elastic band gripper. Everything fits nicely. There’s no fourth valuables pocket here, that role being taken instead by the zipped chest pocket.

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The neck area has a mesh section at the top most part. It’s a nice addition and makes sure that it keeps moisture away from your neck here which can cause a chilling effect.

Sizing? It’s interesting. I used to own the Espresso Due 2 and that was the only Castelli product (until the Potenza) that I took in a large rather than an XL (39.5″ chest). And that carries forward to the new one as well. The Espresso is a looser fit than the rest of the range so, if you can, size down for a racy fit that will also be pretty aero.

In use the Espresso is one of the warmest jackets out there. It’s not Assos Bonka warm, but, it tends to be a warmer jacket straight out of the house where the Assos takes a few miles to warm up. It’s good for Castelli’s intended 0-10 degrees C and definitely not above. It’s far too warm for that. It’s good for below zero as well with the right choice of base layer. It’s not as breathable as others because of that wrap around shell but that’s not too important as it’s brilliant at heat retention and this is all about winter riding. I’d be interested to see an Espresso with the rear approach of the Bonka, Castelli Alpha jersey or some of the Sportful Fiandre range (don’t forget that Sportful are the same group of companies).

In terms of rain, it’s not intended as a foul weather piece a la the Paretini Mossa.2 but will get you through the heaviest of showers with little or no ingress. It’s still not an all day persistent rain piece, for that you’re still better off with a shell rather than a windstopper.

It’s fabulously well put together but then you’d expect that for the price. RRP is £225. Well under the Assos but not quite as warm or breathable. At the moment, as we approach the end of winter prices have tumbled somewhat and the best of them appear to be at Sigma Sport who have most of the colours in most of the sizes at a reasonable £157.50. You may even be able to find a 10% code floating round the net to get that closer to £140. It’s something that should last you many years so it’s a sound investment overall. It’s pretty hard to fault the Espresso. The only thing we can fault is that our British winters might not be cold enough to truly exploit the protection that such garments offer.