Castelli, Italian manufacturer of high-end cycle apparel, has produced a simple yet effective skull cap in its Viva Thermo Skully.
It's a thin thermal layer designed to be worn under the helmet, and it performs its job brilliantly. At first glance I was concerned that it would be too thin to deal with the cold snaps the UK has had recently – but those concerns were unfounded.
With a fleece liner and a shower resistant layer on the outside, the Viva Thermo Skully is stretchy and fits comfortably around the head – and heads of all sizes too. The cut means there's no bunching or excess, which makes adjustment of your helmet to accommodate it unnecessary. Just pop it on and away you go with lots of comfort and warmth.
The seams are well constructed, and while not taped they are flat to avoid any annoying digging or chafing against your helmet. The edges are actually seamless around the base, which also adds to comfort too.
The skull cap washes very well – after a few uses the fleece lining has remained as soft as it was when new, and the colours stay vibrant. This is particularly good, considering the bright red nature of the sample I had on test. If that doesn't match your kit, though, you can get it in blue or yellow fluoro, as well as more neutral white and black with the Castelli branding around the base. (And pastel blue 'Donna' versions for women – because men's and women's head shapes are so different...)
As with many Castelli products, it's on the pricey side at £19, but to be honest it's a nice piece that will last multiple winters, and does a great job in wintry conditions – just as good as my merino wool alternative.
A simple product done very well
road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Viva Thermo Skully
Size tested: Uni, Red
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Castelli says: "Sometimes simpler products are better, and nowhere is that more true than on this skully. Thin Thermoflex fabric is extremely warm yet provides excellent moisture management and easily fits under your helmet. The raw-cut edges eliminate bulk under the straps. This really is perfection, simplified."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Thermoflex is warm, soft and stretchy
- Flat-lock stitching
- Raw-cut edge lies flat and doesn't bunch under helmet
- 32g weight
Very well made, with flatlock stitching for smooth lines and design.
Kept me warm even in freezing conditions. Very, very good.
The fabric will stain if lots of dirt gets on the bright colours – but I do mean lots of dirt. Maybe not the cyclo-crossers among you.
Comfortable and form fitting.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easily – choose dark colours if you get muddy though.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – I can't complain.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Form fitting and slim profile.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd have preferred it in black, but that's personal preference.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding