When is a Castelli Gabba not a Castelli Gabba? When it's a Perfetto, that's when. The Castelli Perfetto Long Sleeve replaces the Gabba long sleeve in the Italian brand's winter clothing lineup – and it's as good as you'd hope.
- Pros: Great breathability and water resistance in a flexible package
- Cons: Expensive
For the avoidance of confusion (especially for those loyal to the historically excellent Castelli Gabba products), the Perfetto is the new long-sleeve version of the short-sleeve Gabba 3. You could think of it as the long-sleeve Gabba 3 because, well, that's exactly what it is – they even sit right next to each other on the brand's website.
Castelli says that it changed the name in response to riders calling it the 'perfect jacket', but whatever Castelli has chosen to call it, it's still right at the vanguard of what high-performance, water-resistant, windproof, breathable outer garments are capable of, even eight years on from when we saw the first generation Gabba in the pro peloton.
Like the Gabba 2, the Perfetto relies upon Gore's Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric for its technical qualities, this time with a refinement of the surface treatment to improve water resistance without, Castelli says, affecting breathability. I hadn't used a Gabba before now (I do, though, own a Sportful Light Wind Jacket, which is a riff on the same theme) and the beading performance is exceptional, with breathability very good too.
Many brands now boast a long-sleeve garment like the Perfetto, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's well up on the podium of the very best. Quite which is best for you will be determined on whether you prioritise insulation, waterproofness or weight, but the Perfetto is probably towards the more waterproof end of the scale, while not sacrificing very good performance everywhere else – at 332g, it's not super-light, but it does reflect the protection it gives you.
The fit is incredibly comfortable while being form fitting, especially in the medium on test (I tend to split between a medium and large). This was always the Gabba party piece in my view – it looks and wears like an ordinary long-sleeve jersey, but it absolutely isn't. The Perfetto obviously lends itself to more wintry use, but the slim silhouette in the body and those sleeves gives a cocoon-like feel, a bit like donning body armour before going into battle (with the elements).
How you use the Perfetto is up to you: it's not categorised as a jersey or jacket if you ask Castelli, which simply describes it as the 'Perfetto Long Sleeve'. It's a fully capable outer layer with thermal layering underneath, or use as a single layer with a baselayer underneath. In fact, in anything but guaranteed mild and dry weather or the wettest of wet days, the Perfetto has things well and truly covered.
The rear pockets are relatively easy to reach and winter jacket-deep, and feature laser-cut holes for drainage in case you get caught in heavy rain. All round, the finish is superb, and it looks every inch the pro-level garment that Team Sky would have hoped to benefit from when the Italian-British partnership began.
The flanks feature zips to open up the garment to more airflow than the considerable amount of breathability the fabric already offers…
while the neck features a mesh layer next to the skin to increase comfort. The Nano Flex fabric under the arms is another nice comfort-orientated touch, as is the dropped tail to protect your behind.
Castelli says it has redesigned it to sit flatter against your bibs, and there's no doubt that it does sit nicely, reinforcing the feeling of being cocooned at the body and arms.
The silicone band is tacky and adds a little extra adhesion when things get soggy too, while the reflective Castelli branding laid over it adds to the safety element while reminding others that you're undoubtedly wearing a Gabba. Sorry, a Perfetto.
At £180, it's quite an investment, but be under no illusion here: it's well worth the money. The only thorn in its side is the Sportful Light Wind Jacket, which is £30 cheaper. Arguably it's a slightly less hardy but more breathable alternative, so whether it's the one for you will depend on your needs. Dave gave the Sportful an 8/10 rating (though he did criticise the sleeve length).
All in, the Perfetto is a brilliant-fitting (for a keen roadie), comfortable foul-weather outer layer with plenty of flexibility that manages to build on the legend of the Gabba, deviating only in name.
The Perfetto is a long-sleeve Gabba 3, and it's everything you'd want it to be
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Perfetto Long Sleeve
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Castelli says: "The perfect jacket? This jacket was initially created as a long sleeve version of the Gabba - kind of a cold weather version of the Gabba. But we kept hearing so many people refer to the long-sleeve version of the Gabba as perfect, so we've renamed it the Perfetto Long Sleeve.
"It's a great piece in cool conditions with just a light base layer, or it goes to very cold conditions if you add an extra layer or 2 or 3. We've improved the water-repellent finish so it will keep you drier without affecting breathability.
"We've refined the fit. We've laser cut the drain holes in the pockets. And we've totally redone the splash flap on the back to make it lie flatter and fit better. The reflective logo back there keeps you visible."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Castelli lists these features:
- Fully aero, fully breathable and fully protected
- Gore® Windstopper® X-Lite Plus fabric for lightweight total wind protection with water-repellent finish
- Nano Flex fabric insert under arms
- Storm-flap construction with reflective logo at back protects from wheel spray
- Silicone gripper at waist prevents ride-up
- Full-length YKK® Vislon® zipper with wind flap
- 3 rear pockets with laser-cut drain holes
- Weight: 386g (claimed; 332g actual in medium)
As far as I can see, this is getting on for as good as it gets – it needs to be to keep the water off and last testing conditions.
Excellent, leaning slightly more towards the waterproof end of the scale in my opinion.
Early days, but it's difficult to spot any weaknesses here.
I love the race-cut slim fit, but if you're less keen buy a size up from your norm (just like most Castelli clothing, to be honest).
Typical Castelli – a smaller cut than the norm, so consider sizing up from your standard choice.
Its 332g is perfectly acceptable, even very good for the performance this outer layer offers (and lighter than Castelli claims). Perhaps that's where the next step change is going to come in this market: a lighter construction.
No complaints from me, though I like to wear it with a long-sleeve merino baselayer. The seams are soft, though.
Given the performance, the Perfetto is well worth the £180 asking price – but it is £180, £30 more than the Sportful Light Wind Jacket.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very well – I'd use Nikwax Techwash to make sure that water resistant treatment is maintained.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Awesome, to be honest.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great all-round performance with no downsides.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, aside from the price tag.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Sportful Light Wind Jacket stands out to me as a direct rival, with the Perfetto just standing out with slightly better water resistance, albeit at a £30 premium.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, alongside the Sportful option.
Use this box to explain your overall score
I'm torn between an 8 and 9. In terms of sheer overall performance it's clearly a 9, but the value and Castelli's small sizing and fit (which won't be for everyone) just pulls it back into the 'very good' category. Plus, Sportful's Light Wind Jacket also received an 8/10 from Dave, and I like that garment just as much, give or take a raindrop or two.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding