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The Castelli Perfetto Light 2 is an exceptionally good short-sleeve jersey that offers windproofing and water resistance in a lightweight and newly updated package. It's a lot like Castelli's genre-defining Gabba but slightly dialled back; a little less hardcore, a little less warm and a bit more breathable.
Chances are that if you've been road riding for a while you'll know about Castelli's Gabba, right? In short, it's a windproof, highly water-resistant, and breathable jersey in a performance cut. You can check out our review of the Castelli Gabba 2 jersey here.
The Perfetto Light (I'll drop the '2' from hereon in) follows a similar concept but it's more breathable and a lighter weight, so it's suitable for warmer conditions.
'What makes the difference between the Perfetto Light and the Gabba?' you ask.
Okay, keep your wig on, I'm getting to that.
Like the Gabba, the Perfetto Light uses a Gore Windstopper fabric, but whereas the Gabba uses Windstopper X-Lite Plus, it's Windstopper 150 for the Perfetto Light. Although not as stretchy lengthwise, Windstopper 150 is very stretchy across its width and is also about 25 per cent lighter. The fabric has been updated with an improved water repellent finish.
This Windstopper 150 is used for the front panels, the collar, the yoke and the tops of the arms – or, to make things easier, it's the blue stuff in our pictures! It's a softshell fabric that, as the name tells you, stops air getting through, and it's also highly water-resistant.
Whereas the Gabba is made from Windstopper almost throughout, the rear panels and the underside of the Perfetto Light's arms are made from Nano Light Pro fabric.
Give me a chance, will ya? It's like the Nano Flex that Castelli uses for some tights and arm warmers, but without the brushed back. And Nano Flex, before you ask, is a warm polyamide/elastane mix that's given a coating of silicone 'nanofilaments' to make water roll off the surface rather than soaking in. (Check out our review of the Nanoflex Pro Bibtights here.)
The Perfetto Light has recently been updated from the original version that has been around for the past couple of years. The tail is no longer made from Windstopper 150 fabric but from new Nano Light Pro which has a water repellent finish, whilst maintaining high levels of breathability. And rather than being mesh, the bottom of each of the three rear pockets now features a metal eyelet to let any water drain out.
Castelli has also altered the silicone gripper. Whereas before it went all the way around from the bottom of the body section, now it's positioned at the bottom of the extended tail, and this does help a little with keeping that tail in place. Previously, there was reflective binding around the top of the pockets and the bottom of the rear hem, but that has now gone, replaced by the Castelli name written on the tail in reflective print. It just looks grey in daylight but it stands out when caught in headlights.
Pull the Perfetto Light on and the cut is that of a slim-fitting race jersey. As I mentioned, the Windstopper 150 fabric (the blue stuff) doesn't feel quite as stretchy as Windstopper X-Lite Plus but, on the other hand, the Nano Light Pro (the black stuff) is considerably more stretchy, so chances are you'll get a close fit without anything feeling too tight.
Head out into the big wide world and the Perfetto Light immediately impresses. The Windstopper 150 just doesn't let cold air through but it does allow sweaty vapour to get out well, and the Nano Light Pro fabric is as breathable as a pair of Roubaix tights, say, or thick bib shorts. There's no membrane in there to hinder the escape of damp air.
This, along with the fact that it's fairly lightweight, means the Perfetto is suitable for quite warm weather. I've used it with arm warmers in temperatures from about 11°C right up to 18°C and been perfectly comfortable. It might be good for a couple of degrees either side of that, depending on whether you tend to run hot or cold and the intensity at which you're riding. That temperature range covers most of the UK spring and autumn, plus a lot of early mornings and late evenings in the summer, so you're certain to get your money's worth here.
Although water repellent, the Nano Light Pro panels don't keep out the rain as well as a Windstopper fabric, so the Perfetto Light isn't as weather-proof as the Gabba. On the other hand, it's still pretty impressive, and teamed up with some water repellent arm warmers it can see off road spray and a short shower with ease.
As ever with this type of jersey, if the heavens open you're going to get wet eventually – this isn't a waterproof jacket – but the Perfetto Light will keep you dry enough in changeable weather that you can get by without the hassle of getting a waterproof on and off, which is especially useful if you're racing or on a fast group ride, but handy the rest of the time too.
The Perfetto Light is a little cheaper than the Gabba (£150), a similar price to the Santini Beta Light Short Sleeve Wind Jersey (£129.99) and a little more than the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain Short Sleeve jersey (£100) that Dave reviewed recently. There's certainly no shortage of windproof/water-resistant jerseys out there these days. This is definitely among the very best foul weather jerseys I've tried, great for keeping you comfortable across a surprisingly wide range of different conditions.
Exceptional performance from a race-cut windproof jersey that's suitable for a wide range of conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Perfetto Light SS Drive Blue
Size tested: Large, Blue
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, "It was the pros who first asked for a Gabba that's not as hot as the Gabba but warmer than the Fawesome Vest. So we started from the Gabba and made the back in Nano Light fabric – the same fabric as our Nano Flex tights but without the brushed fleece inside. This gives the piece a lot of breathability and keeps you from overheating inside. We further lightened it up by using a lighter weight of Windstopper (a full 25% lighter than the one used on the Gabba) on the front.
"You make think that this is filling a very small niche. But just try it. It can cover most of the conditions of the Gabba (except wet racing and very cold), yet it handles warmer temperatures better. And the fit is exceptional, which is one more reason you'll keep reaching for it. The consensus of our Castelli test crew is that this piece doesn't fully replace the Gabba or Fawesome, but it's another arrow in your quiver that is ideally suited to cool temperatures, especially when it's dry or there's a risk of light rain."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Castelli lists these features:
* Gore Windstopper 150 fabric on front, sleeves and yoke for lightweight wind protection
* Nano Light Pro fabric on the back sheds water but allows significant breathability
* 3 external rear pockets
* Extended tail with reflective Castelli wordmark
* YKK Vislon zipper for easy opening and closing
According to Gore, the company behind Windstopper, "Windstopper fabrics combine total windproofness with maximum breathability. Engineered for a wide range activities and weather conditions, our fabrics are so comfortable and versatile, they often become favourite everyday outdoor garments as well."
I found the Perfetto Light suitable for temperatures from about 11°C. I expected to get sweaty at about 16°C or so, but the Perfetto Light is breathable enough that it's comfortable enough in warmer conditions too.
I've always found Windstopper fabrics to be very durable. Once the Nano Light Pro panels lose their water-shedding ability you can iron them to renew the performance.
It's a slim, race cut but with enough stretch to accommodate a variety of different builds. It'll fit best if you're slim, but you don't need to be a stickman/woman.
As mentioned, it's a slim cut. I usually take a large, sometimes a medium, and I took a large here.
It's not cheap but it's good value: cheaper than the Gabba (£150) and a similar price to the Santini Beta Light Short Sleeve Wind Jersey (£129.99).
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
You just bung it in the washing machine at a low heat along with most of your other cycling stuff and it comes out fine.
The Nano Light fabric becomes gradually less water repellent, but ironing revitalises it. That might sound a bit strange but it does work.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It keeps cold air out effectively and is water repellent too, especially at the front. Plus, it has the added advantage of being highly breathable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The windproofing and the slim cut.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm struggling. It's a great jersey.
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
Like the Gabba, this is an exceptional jersey – not surprisingly, because this is essentially the Gabba Lite. You'll use it across a whole range of different temperatures covering a big chunk of the UK calendar, so you're bound to get your money's worth.
About the tester
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.