What's Cool In Road Cycling

Castelli Unlimited Collection Bridges Gravel & Road

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REVIEW: The Castelli “Unlimited” collection of jersey, bibshorts, gloves and more, is designed for riders who love both adventure, and road cycling. Here’s a close look at the Castelli collection’s features and performance.

I’ve been racing cyclocross since 2008 and have been a long-time regular at the Paris-Ancaster off-road race. It’s been a bit over three years since I jumped on the gravel bandwagon and started switching away from road racing towards gravel events. Frankly, I love it.

I have a closet full of road kit for all seasons, including great Pez kit from Castelli. Of course, any of it can be used for long days out on gravel or on the mountain bike.  But the new Castelli Unlimited range of shorts and jersey, have been designed with materials and features for specific use in the growing discipline of gravel riding.

 

Unlimited Jersey – $139.99 USD
The Unlimited jersey carries on the theme of durability. The fabric throughout is thicker than a lightweight summer jersey, and there are no airy mesh side or back panels. This is not one of those jerseys where you still need to apply sunscreen underneath.

The main body of the jersey is Castelli’s “ProSecco” fabric, a bit thicker and more snag-resistant than lighter-weight fabric. It seems to do a good job in moisture management on even the hot and humid days.

The sleeves and shoulders are reinforced with a thicker and more snag and abrasion resistant fabric to protect against snagging on branches and shrubbery on trails. Despite this additional durability, the sleeve fabric didn’t feel constrictive, and the arms are cut long and flat, with no silicone grippers but holding its position well.

castelli unlimited jersey rear pocketsOut back, there are the standard 3-jersey design with an 4th zippered pocket. The right and left jersey pocket opening are slightly slanted to help ease reaching into them while riding. I’ve stuffed my phone, rain jacket, tools and such into them and they didn’t sway annoyingly while standing up.

The fit overall is good and the sizing runs relatively true, with Medium fitting me well (176 cm, 67 kg) and striking a nice compromise between form-fitting and a super-conforming race fit. It’s snug enough that there’s not a lot of excess fabric either when standing upright or tucked into a riding position, so there’s no annoying flapping. It’s also not the race cut where the front waist is cut much higher than the back, so you won’t be exposing your belly button to the world when you walk into the local shop for resupply.

• Buy the Unlimited jersey here.

Unlimited Bibshorts – $139.99 USD

The shorts are all about the long haul. Two mesh pockets are built into the small of the back, at the base of the bib straps, and are big enough to hold a gel flask, tools like tubeless plugs, air cartridges, etc. They can be looked at as additional clothing stowage sites. Or they can allow you to have some storage space on your body even if you are riding with a non-cycling shirt.

The other location for pockets is the side pockets along each hip, as is common now to the gravel genre. Not quite as big as a typical jersey pocket, but they are big enough to stuff a decent amount of odds and ends into them. I have some lightweight jerseys with pockets that sag and sway annoyingly even with relatively light stuff in them, so these side pockets would be a much-preferred option. They’re definitely a good place to store bars, gels, and food in a relatively easy to reach location, while also freeing up jersey pockets for vests, arm warmers, and more for long days with variable weather.

A side benefit to the hip pockets is that the additional layers of fabric can slide against each other in case of a slide out, which can be common on gravel due to the highly variable traction. I remember in the late 80s when Scott came out with egg-shaped thin foam/plastic hip guards that you wore under your shorts for the same reason.

The shorts themselves are constructed of relatively thick and abrasion-resistant 200 g/m2 lycra. We have some ridiculously hot and humid summer days here in the Niagara region of Canada, but I have not felt stifling when wearing the Unlimited bibs despite the double layering.

That’s a full gel flask in the hip pocket that I really didn’t even notice throughout a long ride. I could’ve easily fit much more into the hip pocket.

Indeed, whether it’s hot and muggy days or on long rides, what we’re all looking for with cycling clothing is that true “second skin” feeling. The last thing I want is to feel fabric tugging, constriction by silicone leg grippers, bibs digging into my shoulders, etc. In my hot/humid rides so far, the Unlimited bibs pass this test.

I started cycling in the era of wool shorts and actual chamois padding, so modern chamois is a world-changing miracle for me. Having said that, I can switch between a dead flat old school Fizik Arione saddle with no cut-out on my gravel bike to a super-shaped and a full-length cut-out Selle SMP saddle on my road bike with no issues, so honestly I’m not the best judge of chamois design and placement.

I’m a huge fan of the new thigh hems that are laser cut and flat, relying on the cut and fabric along with maybe a bit of silicone to hold its position rather than the cheaper/older style of a thick elastic silicone band that can feel very constrictive. The Unlimited shorts have a long hem, with thin vertically-aligned silicone strips to keep the shorts in place.

MSRP for the Unlimited bibshorts is $139.99 USD

 

Unlimited Gloves – $49.99 USD.
The final piece of Unlimited kit I tested was the long-fingered gloves. I’m a dedicated glove proponent for all riding. For off-road, I especially love having a lightweight long-fingered gloves for a bit of protection from getting my fingers whipped by passing branches or brush.

These Castelli gloves have a fairly light, airy, and stretchy fabric over the entire back of the hand, thus they’re easy to take on and off without the additional weight and bulk of Velcro closures. They’re about as light and airy as you can get, so they are noticeable but not a deal breaker in hot conditions for me.

All fingertips have a bit of extra rubbery padding to aid durability, and the thumb and index finger have a smartphone-compatible fabric in addition.

castelli unlimited glove palmThe palm padding is minimal, with only one small rhomboid-shaped median nerve padding at the base of the hand.

MSRP for the Unlimited long-fingered glove is $49.99 USD.

Summary
Overall, I like the understated styling of the Unlimited jersey and its overall fit being a nice middle ground between comfy and aero. The shorts have lots of cargo capacity, and are cut in a way where they disappear. The gloves are minimalist yet excellent for providing a bit of full-fingered protection for those who value that. I’ve taken to using the entire kit on MTB rides in addition to gravel.

The pricing on the range is what you would expect for high-quality kit, so you’re not being charged a gravel premium. In the end, the Unlimited lives true to its name. It’s solid, top-shelf kit that you can use for any good long day in the saddle, whether it is road, gravel, or trail.

Check out the full Castelli Unlimited range.

 

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