Gravel Gear

Reviewed: Castelli ’Cross Sanremo Speedsuit

The Cross Sanremo Speedsuit is versatile and warm, but don’t throw out your other skinsuits just yet

Cyclocross weather is unpredictable. It could be warm and sunny one weekend and freezing the next. Castelli’s ’Cross Sanremo Speedsuit, which uses three-quarter sleeves and applies thermal material only to its upper half, attempts to cover as much of this range as possible. It comes close to hitting the mark, but misses in a few key areas.

The original Sanremo Speedsuit was designed for the blazing-fast finishers of the UCI WorldTour. The Speedsuit is essentially a play off of a skinsuit, but the top half can be unzipped similar to a traditional jersey — think of a tight jersey and bibs sewn together at the back, but not the front. The cyclocross version uses the same design concept, but changes the cut and adds key thermal elements up top.

The original Speedsuit was amazingly tight, and is still available in several models, most of which sport traditional three-pocket uppers. The ’cross suit, however, is looser and longer through the upper body to make it more comfortable when off the bike. The longer front also prevents the dreaded bellybutton gap, something best avoided in sub-freezing temperatures.

The ’Cross Sanremo suit uses a thermal material on the uppers, while the bottom half is made from the same thinner material you’d find on Castelli’s Race Bibshort line.

The two rear pockets are great for training, but not ideal for racing. Your pedal could snag a jersey pocket when you shoulder the bike. Castelli says it added pockets to the ’Cross Sanremo suit so that riders could wear it outside of races. But it makes more sense to wear a long sleeve jersey or jacket over a thermal skinsuit in training.

I rode in the ’Cross suit a handful of times and found it to be too warm for anything above 50 degrees, despite the lack of thermal bottoms and a highly breathable material in the underarm. On a cloudy and windy day, with temperatures around 45 degrees, the ’Cross Sanremo suit was perfect. Had the sun been out, it may have been too hot.

I’m quite a fan of the three-quarter sleeves. Most long-sleeve skinsuits tend to be too short for my long arms anyway.

The ’Cross Speedsuit’s aesthetics are subdued, but of the three colors offered — black, blue, and grey (pictured) — the best is the Johnny Cash look of the all-black Speedsuit.

The ’Cross Sanremo suit’s chamois, Castelli’s Kiss 3, is not the Italian brand’s top-of-the-line pad, but it is more comfortable than any other ’cross skinsuit I’ve worn.

At six-foot and 165 pounds with a 32-inch waist and broad shoulders, the medium was tight on me. The large would have probably been a better choice, but I prefer a snug fit, and the overbuilt zipper was up to the task.

To order a custom sublimated version of the ’Cross Sanremo Speedsuit, Castelli requires a minimum order of five pieces. Each item is priced at $270. Castelli’s custom line also has a more traditional skinsuit for ’cross, its Thermal CX Speedsuit. That is priced at $175, again with a five-piece minimum.

A couple other manufacturers allow riders to order custom skinsuits without the headache of minimums. Pactimo offers an order period in the early fall during which cyclocross riders can place full custom orders with no minimums. That brand’s Cross-Skinsuit is $225, though it has a pesky rear pocket. Vie13 Kustom Apparel allows riders to purchase any item with no minimums. The Vie13 Fleece Long Sleeve Skinsuit starts at $222 and prices decrease with bulk orders. Additionally, Vie13 has a 50 percent off crash replacement program that covers the garment for the first six months.

The ’Cross Sanremo Speedsuit will not cover the full swing of the mercury. Cold days will demand a full thermal, and warmer days require no thermal. In my race bag, I would rather have a traditional long-sleeve skinsuit and a thermal skinsuit. If you seldom see very cold days, the all-black ’Cross Sanremo Suit is a versatile option that will last you years, no matter what team you’re racing for.

Suggested retail price: $279
We like: Warm upper; comfortable chamois; high-end leg opening.
We don’t like: No need for pockets, let alone two; some sort of warmer fabric on the shorts would be nice.
The scoop: A well-made thermal skinsuit that covers some colder conditions, but not all, and is a good option for a privateer.
More info: Castelli-cycling.com