Castelli did a bit of a shuffling in its beloved Gabba category this past year. Before we go any further, let’s all take a deep breath and a long draw off that flask in your gear bag. It’s going to be okay. They didn’t discontinue anything.
What Castelli did was to differentiate their cold/wet tops a bit. What you’ve known as the Gabba Long Sleeve, the windproof, waterproof, long-sleeve jersey with a spray skirt and front vents still exists. The company got so much favorable feedback on it they decided not to mess with it and dubbed it the Perfetto Long Sleeve, as in perfect, which is what owners the world over have told them it is.
Because it breathes reasonably well and reduces bulk by bringing my jersey and rain jacket into a single garment, the Perfetto continues to be my go-to for Belgian weather. If you tell me it’s 45 or 50 degrees and raining, I don’t have to think twice about what I’m going to wear. The only real question is how heavy a base layer I’ll wear, and the Perfetto is so warm that I don’t pull out a winter base layer until the temperature is below 45 degrees. I tend to run cold, so I respect that folks who live further north are probably disinclined to even zip this thing up until the temperature is 45. Castelli suggests it works best from 43 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, but I think that’s conservative.
My one and only knock against the Perfetto is that like all Castelli garments, it’s cut for people whose trunk lacks the junk. I carry enough junk that the spray skirt tends to ride up a bit, rather than staying firmly ensconced around my sitter. Still, the spray skirt does a good job of preventing anything slung from your rear tire from soaking your bibs. It’s not a fender, natch, but it’s a net improvement over a typical jersey. For the record, my issue is less so than it was with the previous Gabba; Castelli is to be credited for cutting the Perfetto and Gabba with a bit more room below the waist.
The vent holes in the pocket (that will let water drain out if you’re riding in a total downpour) are now laser-cut, reducing bulk in the garment. The mesh that was previously used in the pockets to allow water to drain, but it also allowed everything in your pockets to wind up covered in sand. This is a real improvement.
Castelli also offers the Perfetto in a convertible version so that you can zip off the sleeves if your spring squall turns to beaming sun. As a result they suggest that this piece can be worn comfortably up to 64 degrees.
Castelli now reserves the Gabba monicker for a short-sleeve top that offers all the same features as the Perfetto Long Sleeve, but in a short-sleeve jersey, dubbed the Gabba 3. It stops the rain like a wine bottle at a TSA checkpoint. And when combined with a pair of Castelli’s Nanoflex arm warmers you get nearly the same protection for your arms. Where the Perfetto Long Sleeve is the howitzer you pull out only for the worst days, the Gabba 3 is the more versatile piece. Sure, you can roll out in awful conditions and if things improve simply pull down the warmers. I can recall plenty of spring rides in New England where things started well enough and went to hell more than an hour from home. I could have rolled out in this with some warmers in my pocket and whipped them out when the first drops tapped my helmet.
I wouldn’t say I’m masochistic (Oh who am I fooling? I’m a cyclist.) but I will admit that I honestly look forward to lousy, changeable days so I can pull the Gabba 3 out. Arguably the biggest surprise to this thing is just how comfortable it is as the day warms up. Once I shed arm warmers I’m comfortable nearly to 70 degrees. Those of you carrying Canadian or Welsh passports will probably want the Perfetto Light 2 for anything above 50 degrees (Fahrenheit, not Celsius, right?). But I’ll get to that in a second. Castelli suggests the operating range for the Gabba 3 as 50 to 64 degrees. Again, I think that’s conservative. With the right arm warmers, I’ll wear this thing down to the mid-40s.
Castelli has yet another wrinkle in this collection of nasty day antidotes, the Perfetto Light 2. Like the Gabba 3, the Perfetto Light 2 is short-sleeved. The recommended use range for this piece is just a bit warmer. I went out on a drizzly day when the mercury couldn’t seem to hit 60 degrees. No arm warmers. I was curious to know if I’d get home wanting to take a half-hour shower in scalding water. Compared to its big brother, the Perfetto Long Sleeve, the Perfetto Light 2 uses the same insulation, but isn’t quite as wind and waterproof. As a result, it’s a lighter, more supple garment. I’d be unlikely to wear this before 50 degrees, but I’d be comfortable in it all the way up to 70 degrees. Castelli suggests 50-68 degrees.
Of the four pieces, were I only to pick one, I’d probably go with the Perfetto Long Sleeve. Around here any day that is both cold and wet is, in all likelihood, going to stay that way. That said, it’s a tough choice between that and the Gabba 3. In Southern or Central California spring conditions, or through the Mid-South or Deep South, I’d be Gabba 3 all the way. And if I were in the Pacific Northwest, I’d have either the Gabba 3 or Perfetto Light 2 just to get me through the summer and early fall. As much as I love convertible garments in theory, they end up being way more complicated than warmers. It’s a good deal easier just to hook a thumb on a warmer under your jersey sleeve and pull down.
The Perfetto Long Sleeve runs $199.99 and comes in six colors and five sizes (S-XXL). The Gabba 3 comes in eight colors (!), and six sizes (S-3XL). It’ll set you back $179.99. The Perfetto Light 2 goes for $149.99, comes in five colors and five sizes (S-XXL).
Final thought: The secret to secret miles.