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When you think of a speedsuit you tend to imagine a suit designed in the wind tunnel with the only focus being on aerodynamics. That's not the case with the Castelli Cross Sanremo Speedsuit. Castelli has actually produced an incredibly comfortable and well designed suit with cyclo-cross firmly at its core.
Castelli's Sanremo Speedsuits have been around for a while now, often getting high praise for their comfort and design (check out Mat's review of the 3.0 here). This cyclo-cross-specific version is tailored to enhance the suit's range of motion purely for this demanding discipline.
In reality it is still the simple formula of a race cut jersey and shorts sewn together at the back while leaving the front open, but the changes are in the detail. The stretchy Nervato fabric under the arms allows flexibility for shouldering the bike while still being breathable, and the seams on the shoulders have even been rotated to remove any pressure points when shouldering the bike too. The use of Thermoflex fleece fabric for the upper body keeps you warm during the coldest of winter rides.
There's no doubt that comfort has been kept as a priority, and it shows. The Kiss Air seat pad is excellent even on long rides, and the single-piece shorts construction means fewer seams to worry about causing aggravation. The leg fit is tight but not overly so, with Castelli's Body Paint shorts which are supposedly 'more aerodynamic than if you weren't wearing anything at all', but I can't say I tested that theory!
Practicality-wise it is also surprisingly good. The full-length zipper has a large tab making it easy to use even when your hands are covered in mud or you have gloves on, and the addition of two large rear pockets gives the suit plenty of versatility, meaning it can and probably should be used for other winter rides.
Another plus was the warmth of the suit. The fleece fabric, combined with three-quarter-length arms and a high neck line, kept the body temperature up even when I was taking it easy. Granted, this winter has been warmer than most, but I rarely needed more than a gilet over the top to feel comfortable on some road rides. Equally, the ventilation was good enough to stop you from over heating when at max effort or racing.
The main pitfall seems to be the price, as it often is for the high end items. For £190, it's an expensive piece of kit, but there is no doubt you are buying quality. Bearing in mind you are effectively getting a high-end pair of shorts and jersey, it's probably not far off what you would have to spend anyway. Plus, with its versatility, you certainly won't just be using it for 'cross.
Finally, a word of warning. Make sure you get the sizing right. As with most skin suits, they tend to come up small and the Cross Sanremo Speedsuit is no exception. Even at 5ft 7in and weighing in at 62kg, I found the small extremely tight. In fact, it was so snug that the zip would irritate my neck enough that I usually had to ride with it slightly open. You have been warned!
A comfortable, warm and surprisingly versatile speedsuit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Cross Sanremo Speedsuit
Size tested: Small, Black
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?
The Castelli Cross Sanremo Speedsuit is designed specifically with cyclocross in mind. The same comfort as the rest of the range but a number of details to help with the range of motion and flexibility within the suit. The suit is very good all round and was surprisingly versatile, meaning it could be used throughout the winter, not just for cyclo-cross.
Castelli says: "The Castelli Cross Sanremo Speedsuit is a perennial favorite here at Castelli Café, offering some extra warmth and protection not just for Cross racing but for mountain biking and spring autumn rides on the road bike, but we always felt there was one small issue, the lack of pockets made it unsuitable for longer rides or even epic races like the 3 Peaks. Thankfully this winters version keeps all the good bits and adds pockets, oh and some funky new colours too. The 'Cross Sanremo Speedsuit, its worth taking a closer look."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Thermoflex fleece fabric on upper body.
Single-piece construction of shorts with Action 290 fabric for stretch and durability.
Full-length YKK® Vislon zipper with large pull tab that can be easily grabbed with muddy gloves.
3/4-length sleeves to take off the chill.
Nervato fabric insert under arms allows for temperature regulation and shoulder room for off-the-bike flexibility.
Higher neck provides extra warmth.
GIRO3 single-layer sublimation-printed leg ending.
KISS Air seat pad for great protection but minimum bulk.
2 rear pockets make this a great piece for 'cross training or cool-weather rides.
High-quality suit well constructed. No issues with seams or logos.
Exceptional comfort, versatility, flexibility with range of motion. Did exactly what was needed of a 'cross-specific skinsuit.
Fits well around the body and legs. No need to worry about creasing and so on. The high neck did catch on my neck – enough to have to ride with it open, which was a little annoying.
Well fitting but does come up on the small side. Be sure to get the sizing right before buying.
With the thicker fleece material for the top half, it is naturally heavier than your average skinsuit. It's certainly not noticeable when riding, though, and the comfort benefits far outweigh the weight.
Other than the tightness when off the bike, as with any skinsuit, I can't rate the comfort higher! The seat pad is great, even on long rides, the fleece material keeps you warm through the winter, and the inclusion of flexible materials for off the bike movement is excellent.
It's definitely expensive! But when you are getting high-quality shorts and a jersey you would be spending close to that anyway. Plus this isn't just any pair of shorts or jersey, these are the highest quality with 'cross specifically in mind. You will find yourself wearing this for more than just CX rides too, so it becomes more cost effective.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed well, which is a necessity for a piece of cross kit. Survived the mud and didn't run or start to peel after a number of washes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The versatility and the inclusion of details like pockets and stretchy material under the arms. Nice and warm for the winter too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The high neck line meant the suit would catch my neck awkwardly.
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: Cannondale CAADX My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives