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Castelli Gabba RoS jersey review

12 Mar 2020
Verdict:

The Castelli Gabba RoS jersey is the original weatherproof jersey and it is still the best

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£175
For 
Breathability • Weatherproofing • Insulation • Fit

Now in its 10th model year as part of the Italian brand’s winter apparel range, the Castelli Gabba RoS jersey was revised for a fourth time for AW19. The Castelli Gabba has undergone some substantial changes to further refine a design that has been right on the money from the very start after being introduced way back in 2009.

Perversely, in some ways starting from such a high baseline can hamstring the popularity of a product over the long term. A brand could understandably adopt an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ stance, say, but that risks ceding ground to competitors who get ‘inspired’ to bring out something similar.

Equally, the brand could make running changes in an attempt to stay contemporary, but to the detriment of the product.

The unusually mild winter we’ve had this year has given me plenty of opportunities to spend time riding in the Castelli Gabba RoS jersey, so I can say with some confidence that while Castelli has taken the latter approach, the latest revisions to the already-accomplished garment - while they have changed it noticeably - have done nothing to harm its performance.

The alterations have seen the Gabba gain an ‘RoS’ moniker, which stands for ‘Rain or Shine’, to reflect its improved dry weather performance alongside the near-waterproof protection it has offered since its inception.

Body fabric

Where in the past they have been labelled as Gore Windstopper, the body panels of the Gabba RoS make use of Gore-Tex’s new Infinium fabric branding. It is less a brand new fabric, more a new way of combining existing Gore-Tex fabrics - Cyclist editor Pete Muir comprehensively explained the details of the update in his review of Gore’s C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo jacket.

Nonetheless, Castelli has exclusive rights to use the Infinium fabric outside of Gore itself, which is a testament to the high regard in which Castelli is held for garment development.

Buy the Castelli Gabba RoS now from Chain Reaction Cycles 

The front of the Gabba RoS uses Infinium 205, a heavier variant of the fabric which Castelli says is waterproof and lightly fleeced, while the back uses Infinium 203. It isn’t insulated, but still water-repellant and crucially very stretchy.

I found this balance of fabrics works really well. The bulkier Infinium 205, being situated over the rider’s chest and down the fronts of the upper arms, bears the brunt of the weather conditions. It effectively blocks wind and repels water while the lighter, stretchier Infinium 203 at the rear allowed for plenty of ventilation in warmer conditions and helps create the Gabba’s famous racy fit.

Taped seams

Visually the most noticeable update to the Gabba RoS is the contrast piping at the shoulders. Castelli says these seams have been taped just far enough to prevent 90% of water ingress but still keep the garment from becoming rigid and bulky.

On balance I’d say the taped seams are a worthwhile update; the addition does have an effect on fit at the shoulder but the garment certainly didn’t feel a lot less flexible than previous iterations in this area.

Plus it effectively negated water ingress - previous Gabbas I have used in wet weather used to leak slightly at the seam junction between front, back and shoulder fabric panels, evident by small patches of wetness on the shoulders of a base layer. Castelli has now solved this issue in the Gabba RoS, which extends its range of comfortable use into even wetter weather.

Refined features

The broader updates to the Gabba RoS are ably supported by a host of smaller ones. Castelli has shifted from a traditional three-pocket layout to a double pocket in the Gabba RoS, and the pockets now feature a reflective strip at their base, spanning their width.

It is another astute update in my opinion - the bigger pockets are easier to access with gloved hands while riding and there is a slim compartment at the left side of the right pocket to keep a mini-pump upright. The reflectivity is a welcome boost to safety by improving visibility in grotty conditions - the most likely conditions you’ll be using the garment in.

The bottom 20% of the fabric covering the Gabba RoS’s YKK zipper has been removed. It makes sense because this portion is hidden by the stomach, hips and legs of the rider in an on-bike position. Less fabric means less opportunity for it to bunch, a fact that was born out in use - I found the Gabba RoS was not prone to bunching and folding in this area.

Price

Buy the Castelli Gabba RoS now from Chain Reaction Cycles 

The Castelli Gabba RoS boasts a broad combination of technical features but the performance those features create does have an associated cost. Admittedly at first glance, the Gabba RoS’s £175 price tag does seem unusually high. £175 for a jersey?

However, I believe the price is justified due to the jersey’s versatility.

The Castelli Gabba RoS can be dressed up with arm warmers and a fleece base layer to cope with wet conditions in mid-single-digit temperatures. Equally, it can be dressed down with a sleeveless base layer and no warmers to suit dry weather in the mid-teens.

The jersey’s comfortable range of use is equivalent to two or three more specific garments in my opinion. The price also compares favourably to its competitor garments too - Assos’s Equipe RS jersey is £250, Sportful’s Fiandre Pro jacket is £190, and Rapha’s Pro Team Shadow jersey is £240.

For those reasons I’d say the Castelli Gabba RoS remains as invaluable a purchase as it always has been. A rider, particularly one who does most of their riding in Britain, needs a weather protective top in their cycling wardrobe. In choosing a Castelli Gabba RoS that rider is guaranteed not to go too far wrong.

Click through to page two for more on the development of the latest Castelli Gabba

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