What's Cool In Road Cycling

Castelli Perfetto Light Jersey Review

With each piece of gear I test or review, there’s usually a eureka moment where I “get it”.  For Castelli’s Perfetto Light jersey, mine came at the Cyclosportif Megeve in France – on an overcast day in the French Alps where rain came and went.  Conditions were ideal to test this jersey – cloudy start at 8:30am, rain coming as showers rolled through the valleys as I climbed the Col des Aravis and Col de la Croix Fry – I spent somewhere over 90 minutes going uphill, lots of time going downhill, and plenty warming up and staying dry in some wet weather gear.

On this big day out, I mated the Perfetto Light jersey with a base layer, arm warmers, and Castelli’s Nanoflex bibtights.

The Perfetto Light and shines on two fronts – comfort and function – we can even add a third if you like the way it looks.  It was bornnin 2016 from Castelli’s now famous Gabba jersey – a game changer in elite level wet weather protection.  More closely associated with top level racing than almost any other clothing brand, Castelli’s product development is very much inspired and led by the pros who ride their gear.  Add in a top-notch product development team based in Castelli’s Italian headquarters and they’ve produced some very good cycling gear… but you know that already.

What you might not know is where the Perfetto Light jersey fits into the line – and why you might need one.  To quote the Castelli website: “It was the pros who first asked for a Gabba that’s not as hot as the Gabba but warmer than the Fawesome Vest.”  Even though this is built and intended as race wear, I’ve found the Perfetto Light just as useful in spring & summer on damp or cool days where it’s a perfect jersey for long rides – and even as an under layer in winter. Paired with a base layer and some arm warmers, and a light rain jacket tucked into the pocket – you’re pretty much set for a day out where wet weather is on the menu.

Both comfort and function are covered by the Gore Windstopper® 150 2-way stretch fabric on front, sleeves and yoke.  It’s as windproof as I could want, and over a base layer it keeps the wind chill out with no issues, while under a rain jacket adds a layer of real warmth that comes in handy on days in the high mountains – or anywhere you’re likely to find a noticeable temperature swing.  My ride in France started with a long gradual descent at altitude – so the Perfetto Light was a welcome addition under my Tempesta rain jacket (see my Tempesta review here).   Once we started the first climb though, the rain jacket came off and just the jersey and base layer were plenty to keep me warm on the 10km+ up hill.

The jersey performs very well in light rain and the front fabric also does an excellent job of repelling any amount of rain that’s lighter than what would call for an actual rain jacket.   The Gore Windstopper is pretty impervious, although some moisture did pass through the zipper, which does not have a backing layer, so I asked Castelli’s product chief Steve Smith about it:

 “The front zipper doesn’t have a backing for a couple of reasons. First because this garment is focused on breathability and not overheating, we liked the fact that a Vislon zipper allows a very slight amount of air to get in — not enough to chill you, but enough to help in moving moisture away. Think of the huge difference that even the slightest breeze can make when you hang-dry your clothes after washing — that’s the effect that the air flow gives to keeping you dryer. Secondly as a race piece we wanted it to be as easy as possible to regulate the zipper in a race situation and zip flaps tend to impede the sliding of the zipper. Seeing as how essentially no rain hits the zipper when you’re in a road riding position, we felt that was a small tradeoff for the benefits for this lighter version of the Gabba designed for training and racing in conditions where the Gabba is too much.

The collar is nice and tall to keep the neck warm, but the mesh liner is soft against the skin and never felt too hot for me.

The day progressed over the top of the Aravais and a very long (35km) descent to the next valley, before tackling the 10km slog up the Croix Fry.  The moisture from the valley made conditions quite humid on the way up – but I kept cool by simply unzipping the jersey, and took advantage of the breathable Nano fabric on the back to help vent out the body heat.  Of note here is that the zipper is easy to grab with full finger gloves, and also locks off when pressed flat, which prevents the zipper from inadvertently opening more than you want.

The Gore Windstopper 150 fabric used in the front and shoulders is lighter than the famed and nearly invincible Gabba jersey – adding to the overall lighter weight.

The back of the jersey is Castelli Nano Light fabric – a lighter version of their also game-changing Nanoflex fabric that repels water while stretching and breathing.  It doesn’t have the wind-blocking as the jersey front – so it really helps in venting out the hot air.  The pockets are vented at the bottom to allow water to drain – should you find yourself in such a downpour.  There’s also a nice drop down flap to cover your butt from tire spray, and the reflective strip across the bottom adds a touch of visibility.

My size Small fit my 135lb frame nicely – no bulking or flapping – and the longer sleeves are a nice touch that just help keep more of your body heat in.

My tester is the original version of the Perfetto Light, and for 2017 they’ve made a couple minor mods (hence the moniker “2”) including different cosmetic logoing, drain holes in the pockets being more durable, very slight fit adjustments and pocket shape.
Steve summed up the changes for me as: “We really liked the old one, and pro as well as consumer feedback has been very positive so we didn’t really want to move it to far.”
Overall it’s another very high quality piece of gear, which has shown no signs of wear and tear in the 12 months I’ve been using it – even after repeated washing in cold water.
 • Price: US $159.99
• Get more info at the Castelli website.
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