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Apparel & Accessories

Reviewed: Castelli Perfetto Light jersey and Tempesta Jacket

Castelli's Perfetto Light jersey may be the single best piece of springtime cycling apparel we've tested.

Castelli Perfetto Light

It’s fair to say I’ve spent more of 2016 wearing a Castelli Perfetto Light jersey than any other piece of clothing I own — cycling or otherwise. It’s the most versatile piece of bike apparel I’ve ever come across.

The jersey takes all the characteristics that made Castelli’s Gabba such a huge hit — water-resistance, wind proofing, insulation, and a race fit in an adaptable, short-sleeve package — and lightens them up just a bit. The result is a top that isn’t quite as suited as the Gabba to freezing temperatures or driving rains but that outshines it everywhere else.

With arm warmers and a light vest, I’m comfortable down to the low 40s Fahrenheit, but in a more streamlined way than what I can achieve with anything else in my cool-weather cycling wardrobe. And two weeks ago, I wore the Perfetto Light during the mountainous Paris-Nice Challenge in southern France, where, thanks to the full-length zipper, I stayed comfortable as temperatures crept into the 60s, but where I was grateful for the bit of insulation during the early morning start and on some long, chilly descents.

Basically, the only times I’m not riding this jersey in temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees is when it’s still dirty from the previous day’s ride.

Like the Gabba, the Perfetto Light starts with a four-way-stretch Windstopper fabric up front and for the sleeves, but Castelli has gone for a lighter-weight option here. It’s less bulky, meaning the fit feels racier, and it’s more breathable. Out back, the Perfetto sports an even more breathable fabric with a brushed fleece lining. It feels cozy to the touch but does a great job of preventing overheating.

The dropped tail keeps springtime muck off your bibs, while reflective trim offers a bit of extra visibility for those evening rides when it’s not yet light quite late enough.

If there’s a better jersey for getting through shoulder season, I haven’t come across it.

Tempesta Race Jacket

Castelli lists the weight of the Tempesta at 201 grams, but our medium tester came in at just 193 grams. Suffice it to say, this thing is light. For comparison, a bare iPhone 6 comes in at 130 grams. I’ve had one of each in my jersey pockets during several recent rides.

The Tempesta is built primarily from a waterproof fabric that eVent made exclusively for Castelli. It’s a lighter version of eVent’s waterproof-breathable membrane, which has won accolades for its ability to breathe even in dry conditions. (Other waterproof-breathable membranes need to get wet to become breathable.)

That dry-weather performance lets the Tempesta do double duty as both a rain barrier and an insulating layer, making it a pretty great thing to throw in a jersey pocket when riding in the varied conditions of spring (or summer at higher elevations). It’s been too dry in Boulder over the past couple of months for me to get much of a sense of the jacket’s wet-weather performance, though I did pull it on in a minor mist outside of Nice, France, in early March. The jacket did save me on two recent rides, however, when temperatures dropped in late afternoon but I still had the 2,000-foot descent of Boulder’s Magnolia Road to get down on my way home.

The most striking thing about the Tempesta, at least initially, is the fit. I hadn’t ever really thought about how billowy and ill-fitting most rain jackets are until I put this one on. Like any piece of race-specific cycling apparel, it felt awkward and constraining until I bent forward in a riding position. Then everything snapped in place. If you have body-builder arms, look elsewhere. But if you like the thought of wearing a rain shell without feeling like you’re dragging a parachute, the fit here is a revelation.

The high collar keeps out drafts, even in a tuck. That plus the eVent fabric, waterproof zipper, and taped seams probably creates a pretty great barrier against the wet. (Again, I haven’t had opportunity to ride it in the rain yet. But I did run water directly over the seams, which would be the first place water would get through, and everything stayed dry on the inside.)

Another feature for keeping the rain out is draw strings at the elastic cuffs. The pulls have magnets in them, which, in theory, hook up to magnets embedded in the sleeves, to keep the strings out of the way. It’s a good idea, but it absolutely does not work.

The magnets are too weak to do any good. Even sitting still at my desk while I write this, I can barely get the pulls to attach. On the bike, they do nothing, leaving a loop of cord dangling awkwardly from inside your wrist. (I’ve tried them on three different Tempestas, all with the same result. The magnets just don’t hold.) It’s not a fatal flaw. But it’s an odd oversight, considering how very well thought out and executed everything else is with this jacket.