The thing about Castelli's Feroce long sleeve base layer is that it's not a long sleeve base layer.
'Don't think of it as a long sleeve base layer. Think of it as a short sleeve base layer with arm warmers attached,' say Castelli.
Well, that partly explains things but they're still messing with my mind here.
'It's made to be used with a short sleeve jersey by making the sleeves in our heaviest weight seamless construction. The body is medium weight, and we use a lighter weight fabric under the straps of your bib shorts. You get perfect temperature equilibrium. And when things heat up? Just push the sleeves up since the ultra stretchy construction makes it easy and comfortable.'
Ah, it all becomes clear. They've used different weaves and densities of fabric to take account of your other clothing. Interesting idea; does it work?
The body section of the Feroce is highly textured. The areas underneath where the straps go are a fairly loose knit, the ribbed sides provide loads of stretch and the remaining areas at the front and down the middle of the back are a plain weave. There are no seams down the body to bother you and the neck is close fitting without being tight so there's no space for cold air to slink in there.
As Castelli promise, the sleeves are a heavier weight. They're not way, way thicker than the body, but enough to notice; enough for me to try wearing the Feroce underneath a short sleeve jersey before reading the blurb and finding out that that was the whole idea. Like the body, the sleeves are mega stretchy so you're guaranteed a close fit without a restrictive feel. Snug, not tight.
The Feroce works really well for autumn use - and presumably for spring use too. The fabric is a mix of polyester (74%), polypropylene (20%) and elastane (6%) and it feels good against your skin. You know how some fabrics immediately feel warm when you touch them and some stay cold for ages? Wool: warm. Shiny nylon: cold. This is one of the warmer ones, and the fact that it's so stretchy means it's always in contact with your skin so it can wick your sweat away consistently. It does an excellent job on that front, and it dries out fast so you don't get cold five minutes after tackling the first big hill of the day.
I've been wearing this under various different jerseys in the sort of temperatures where I'd usually wear a base layer, jersey and arm warmers, and it has been really comfortable. Castelli reckon the temperature range is 10-18C. That's about right - low to mid-teens for me, although we're all slightly different. You can push the sleeves up your arms easily enough if you want some extra cooling, and they won't be baggy when you pull them back down.
Once the mercury drops to the point that you need a gilet on top of your jersey, the Feroce isn't so suitable. I found that when I had a gilet on as well, there was too much of a difference between the temperature of my arms and the temperature of my body, so it was time to rethink my strategy.
Despite what Castelli say about it not being a long sleeve base layer, I've been using it as exactly that on nippy mornings and evenings. My hands nearly always suffer first in the cold, then it works up my arms, so having a bit of extra insulation there isn't a bad thing.
My only problem with the Feroce is the price. You could buy a short sleeve base layer for £40 -a very good one -and Castelli's own water-resistant NanoFlex arm warmers for £30. That's a total of £70 and you'd have a versatile combo. Although the Feroce is an excellent top, £80 is a whole lot of cash.
Excellent long sleeve top for wearing under a short sleeve jersey, but it's expensive
road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Feroce Midweight Base Layer
Size tested: S/M
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?
As well as the comments quoted in the text of the review, Castelli say:
"Perfect for riding in cool, windy conditions
Medium weight for broad seasonal use
Seamless construction for comfort
Polyester/Lycra for excellent moisture management"
It's intended for riding where you're likely to get sweaty, essentially.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The areas under where your bib short straps are likely to be are almost fluffy on the inside, doing a great job of picking up moisture from your skin and shifting it outwards via capillary action.
It's well made with very few seams to affect the feel.
High-quality wicking; a close, comfortable fit.
If you were to judge it as a straightforward long sleeve base layer, the value would be low. Judge it as a short sleeve base with arm warmers attached, which is what Castelli reckon it is, and the price is more justified though it's still more expensive than Castelli's own short sleeve base + armwarmer combo. Either way, it's not cheap.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. I just think that the price is high for the gap that it plugs.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It feels exceptionally comfy even when you're working hard and sweating.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Only if it were £20 cheaper
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Excellent product, it's just the price that puts me off.
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.