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Castelli's Pro Mesh Sleeveless baselayer – which you might have spotted being worn by the Team Sky riders at the Tour de France this year – is indeed a pro-level garment, with a price tag to match. It works superbly – the only real issue is that so does Castelli's £35 short-sleeve Pro Issue baselayer, which Sean rated very highly.
It is very light, weighing in at a scant 50g on the trusty road.cc Scales of Truth, with no fabric to spare anywhere (although, again, the Pro Issue beats it at 48g – and a claimed 44g for the sleeveless version). It has an extended back for a spot-on cycling-specific fit, but a very slim cut – ideal for an almost invisible silhouette under the jersey or bib shorts. The seams are kept as flat and minimalist as possible too.
Sometimes, in seemingly delicate garments like this, the seams can become stiff, rough or degraded around the edges, but not here. In use, no matter how much sweating you do – and I've done a lot during the warm spells this summer – you're completely unaware of the baselayer; I experienced no chafing or rubbing at all, despite it fitting me rather tightly, even in a large.
That sizing is what I'd expect that from a Castelli product, frankly, whose products tend to come up in a typically Italian fit – which is to say, small. Nevertheless, whether you prefer a tight or slightly looser fit, you can buy your size accordingly and it'll perform brilliantly at wicking away moisture in warm weather, which is what it's designed for.
Depite its light weight, it's hardy enough to handle normal washing with your other sports kit, and the build quality looks good too – just one loose thread in the neckline after a good amount of use that doesn't affect comfort or overall integrity. It looks – and smells – as fresh as ever too.
As well as this bright and attractive blue and orange colourway, you can also have it in an even brighter multi-coloured pattern, a plainer version of greys, or you can show your support for Team Sky if you like – a boon for those not wanting to flash the entire kit on their ride. Bear in mind if you have a white or particularly thin jersey, there's a chance you will see the pattern through the fabric, like with my own white Rapha Lightweight jersey.
Like most of Castelli's garments it's expensive, and it's about as good as I can imagine a lightweight mesh baselayer can be. Its hot weather performance, along with the stylish designs, make it an enticing option. However, the excellence of the Pro Issue, which is £20 and 2g less – in fact, £25 and 6g less if you go for the sleeveless version – is a bit of a thorn in its side. That's not to say this one isn't an excellent top – and it does carry Castelli's top-notch 'Rosso Corsa' label – but it's hard to recommend it over the Pro Issue given the price differential.
An excellent summer baselayer but it's hard to see why it's £20 more than the excellent Pro Issue...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Pro Mesh Sleeveless baselayer
Size tested: Large
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: "The pro cyclists we work with know the importance of the right base layer for the conditions. The Pro Mesh is made for the widest range of conditions and is designed to keep you dry in cool to mild temperatures [and the warmest]. We'll even put it under a Flanders Warm base layer in the coldest conditions. We've given it a graphic print so you can show off that you have something special when you open your jersey zip."
It's a bit of an odd description because it's one of two baselayers Castelli lists as being for temperatures of '15-30c'. So a bit more than 'cool to mild' temperatures...
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- 3D mesh fabric for excellent moisture management
- Sublimated print graphic
- Waist hem stays flat under shorts
- [Claimed] weight: 50g
Considering how light it is, it's excellent. Only a single strand at the neckline has come loose after plenty of use.
It's superlight and does its job really well – you simply forget you're wearing it.
Considering its lightweight nature, it's standing up well to wearing and washing.
It's slim without being restrictive, and fits around the arms and waist perfectly.
Like most Castelli products, it comes up a touch small. Opt for bigger if you're normally between sizes.
50g in a large – though that is 2g more than the short-sleeve Pro Issue baselayer that Sean tested...
Practically flawless in this regard.
This an excellent mesh baselayer, but it is £20 more than the Pro Issue short sleeve baselayer, which performs superbly in hot weather too (and £25 more than the sleeveless version, which presumably performs just as well, without sleeves...).
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
You need to treat it with care, but it's surprisingly resilient.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Design, light weight, cut.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, except the price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a fantastic baselayer for hot weather, but it is expensive compared with other Castelli designs that perform just as well.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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