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The Castelli Aero Rain Lite jersey is windproof, very water resistant and surprisingly breathable which makes it a great training top for wet and changeable weather conditions.
Essentially, this is the long-sleeve version of Castelli's Gabba Rain Jersey with a few modifications... which is fine by me because the Gabba jersey was one of the best products I tested last year.
The Aero Rain Lite uses the same Gore Windstopper X-Light Plus fabric. As the name suggests, it's windproof. The fabric also keeps water out pretty well although Castelli don't tape the seams so the jersey as a whole isn't classed as waterproof.
The best thing about the fabric is that it doesn't feel like a typical waterproof material. It's lightweight, it stretches widthwise and lengthwise so you can get a close fit, and the inner surface is soft so it's comfortable against your skin. There's a bit of a rustle to it when you move but, really, if you wear this over a base layer it feels pretty much like any other jersey.
The difference is that it keeps you that bit warmer than normal thanks to the Windstopper fabric shutting the cold air out. And, even more valuable, rain just runs off the fabric.
As I said, the seams aren't sealed so water can get in if you're out in a real cloudburst, but nine times out of 10, this jersey will provide the protection you need to stay dry. There's a storm flap around the back that'll keep road spray off your bum too. You can tuck the flap away when it's not needed.
The other key feature of the Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric is that it's highly breathable. The only panels that aren't made of this are the ones underneath the arms. They're made from NanoFlex which is a fleecy fabric that's water resistant rather than waterproof, and it's even more breathable.
This means that when you work up a sweat, lots of the moist vapour is able to escape outward. The internal atmosphere gets more humid than in a standard jersey, of course, but two chest zips allow you to manage the internal climate well and you can always open the full-length front zip – a high-quality one from YKK – to let more air in on the climbs.
As well as the fabrics, the Aero Rain Lite jersey has a few more neat touches. A silicone gripper holds the hem in place and you get three pockets in the lower back, each with an eyelet in the bottom to let water that gets in the top drain out again. Reflective trim around the top of the pockets adds to your visibility.
It's a slim, performance cut. I found the neck pretty close fitting, which it's supposed to be. I had the large size and the neck is 15in. There's a bit of give here because of the stretch in the fabric but you might want to check this before you buy, just to be on the safe side.
Rather than shell out on one of these, why not just wear a normal jersey and stick a waterproof in your pocket? We've all been doing that for years and it works fine. The advantage here is that you don't have to use up pocket space by taking along a waterproof that you might not use. And on the whole, I'd rather take the minimum with me when I go out for a ride. Plus, this is a jersey and it fits like a jersey; it doesn't flap around like lots of waterproofs.
Castelli give a temperature range for this jersey of 7-15°C. I'd say that's about right. It all depends what you wear underneath, of course – whether you go for a thermal base layer or a short sleeve mesh one. And it's best suited to changeable conditions; there's little point wearing this if you know it's not going to rain.
Just a quick thought on the price... £190 is expensive for a jersey, of course, but this is more than a jersey by dint of the fact it's windproof and highly water resistant. And don't forget that you'll be saving wear and tear on a waterproof, so you can offset that against the price too. Just a thought!
Windproof and very water resistant jersey that's breathable and very stretchy; it'll keep you comfortable in unpredictable weather
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Make and model: Castelli Aero Rain Lite LS Jersey
Size tested: Black/Red, 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 say, "The Gabba WS Rain Jersey was such a spectacular success in the pro peloton that we couldn't resist making a long sleeve version for those nasty training days.
Waterproof fabric with remarkable stretch and breathability, but with an almost weightless feel when on the body. Cut long in back to keep wheel splash at bay, and with generous zippered vents along the side.
- Fully aero, fully breathable, and fully protected
- Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric for lightweight and total wind and water protection
- NANOflex fabric insert under arms for temperature regulation
- Storm-flap construction at back protects from wheel spray
- Silicone gripper on waistband to limit ride up
- Front zippered chest vents
- Full-length YKK Vislon zipper
- 3 rear pockets with eyelet holes
- Rear reflective tabs and trim for high visibility"
This is a training jersey so the fact that you can get a more aero fit than you can with a standard waterproof is less of a benefit than it is with the Gabba, a jersey designed for racing. Still, anything that avoids annoying flapping is a good thing in my book.
It's a slim-fitting jersey for training rides.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Castelli developed the Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric with Gore. The fabric itself is waterproof, windproof and breathable. It's also lightweight and very stretchy.
It's excellent. It does exactly what it promises.
It's not so much that it's lightweight that matters, it's more the fact that it does away with the need to carry a waterproof jacket in your pocket.
It doesn't feel quite like a standard jersey, but it's not far off when worn over a base layer.
Tricky. £190 is a lot of cash, clearly, but you're essentially getting a jersey and a waterproof combined. It's definitely a saving over the cost of a top of the line Castelli jersey plus a waterproof hardshell. That said, it's still a lot of money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's designed for training rides in changeable conditions. For that, it's spot on.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fact that it's feels almost like a normal jersey, but it's waterproof too. Magic!
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm glad the neck wasn't any tighter. If it was, I'd have been in trouble.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
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, 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.