Of all the brands we work with, Castelli is by far the one I’m most familiar with. My wardrobe is full of Castelli gear in different materials, bib shorts and pants with different pads and technologies, lots of accessories, a couple pro team jerseys and even streetwear. I wear Castelli gear all year round and am sure to get something new every season, so it is always nice when the brand comes up with something that not only is new, but feels new. This winter they did just that with the Fly Thermal Jacket. A new type of insulated, yet lightweight and versatile thermal jacket. To complete the kit I got the upgraded Sorpasso RoS bibtights in Belgian Blue and my favourite base layer, the Flanders Warm. Over the past weeks I’ve done my best to find the coldest temperatures for cycling, both in Germany and northern Belgium, and really put the kit to the test. My findings are described in the following paragraphs.
Castelli Fly Thermal Jacket – Warm and lightweight
If you get the chance to get your hands on one, do it. It’s the only way to understand how it really performs as a winter jacket. When I first took it out of the package, I did not expect it to look as slim as it does on the body, because it is slightly similar in construction to an outdoor winter jacket, but light. Very light. This is due to the technology that Castelli has used with the FLY Fabric Technology, the CLIMA SL insulation layer and the FLY SL Shell for wind protection. The Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper lining completes the winter protection and list of fancy features.
I’ve used the jacket with just the Flanders base layer in temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees and it’s been more than enough. This autumn’s weather hasn’t allowed me to get down to 0 degrees or below, but that shouldn’t be a challenge for the kit either, as the jacket has had no problem keeping me warm even in the north Belgian cost winds. On the slow climbs up the German Eifel roads, as the sun rises and body temperature rises, the bottom-opening YKK Vislon zip was a great way to cool down while protecting the chest and neck from the wind. A feature I did not think I would use too often, but which has become a habit. After reaching the top, quickly zipping the jacket closed before riding down the hill will keep the temperature inside against the colder wind.
The jacket has a great fit and sits well on the body thanks to the slim cut and elastic and silicone details. Reflective accents add that extra bit of protection required in this darker time of year. The pockets are large and secure enough for all the usual riding essentials, with an extra zipped pocket for valuables. Picking out the right jacket before stepping out on a cold day can be quite the challenge. That’s why having a versatile, warm jacket like the Fly Thermal becomes a real game-changer.
Castelli Sorpasso RoS Pants
If you scroll through our social media until last winter, you’ll see that the Sorpasso RoS is not a new product for me. This year, however, I got the upgraded version with the Blue Belgian colour scheme. More than just the colour, the panel construction has been updated and definitely looks a lot more refined. The right time to switch from bib-horts to bib-pants is somewhat of an unknown, but once you have made the switch, you want something that will keep you warm.
The Sorpasso RoS has a great anatomical cut at the hips and knees and, thanks to Castelli’s Nano Flex 3G fabric, offers stretchy compression so you can still be ready to perform even when the temperature drops.
Rain and wet weather are an unavoidable part of autumn and winter cycling, and the water-resistant properties of the pants work very well, with extra protection (Flex Xtra dry fabric) on the upper front for the necessary wind protection down there, and on the back so you don’t end up with soaked pads. Like the jacket, the trousers have reflective elements to increase visibility on the road. The ankle zips are another detail that adds to the high quality of the bib pants. The Lie-flat elastic bibs are comfortable to wear, yet strong and keep the bibs in place. Unbeatable quality.
Progetto X² Air Seamless – The Best Seatpad
For the Sorpasso RoS, Castelli have chosen their top of the range Progetto X² Air Seamless pad, which is also used on the race bibs of the pro teams. I wrote a lot of positive things about the Progetto X² on my Free Aero Race Bibs shorts last year and my opinion remains the same. The seamless, four-way stretch skin layer remains a standout feature, providing a soft, friction-free experience that moves in sync with your body. The outer fabric is highly breathable and the padding conforms to your body shape and optimises contact with the saddle thanks to multi-density foam that is also softer in sensitive areas. After two years of using this pad on the various Castelli bibs I have, it remains my favourite.
Flanders Base Layer
Jackets and bib pants are usually the most discussed topic in the run-up to winter. A good base layer is essential for comfortable winter cycling. Our position and movements on the bike pose a challenge to cycling clothing manufacturers, who have to work out what kind of construction and materials will keep the different parts of our upper body warm and dry. It didn’t take me long to find the Castelli Flanders Warm, which also bears the Castelli Rosso Corsa label. It has mesh inserts under the arms and the cut fits perfectly inside the bib. It offers great insulation for the chest and back, with the long neck version offering extra protection for the throat. In my opinion, the best base layer available for this time of year. I have both long and short neck versions and more than one of each.
While the Flanders and Sorpasso RoS were already part of my winter favourites last year, the Fly Jacket has now established itself as my go-to winter jacket. It is very light, yet warm, and versatile enough to be the right choice for not-so-cold days. We road cyclists are known for spending a lot of money on our bikes, but in winter if we don’t have the right gear to get us out of the door, all that technology becomes irrelevant. Castelli is certainly the most reliable brand I have ever come across and is always my choice when I decide to invest in higher quality gear.