It was Milan-San Remo and the Spring Classics of 2013 when Castelli’s Gabba jacket came on my radar. It was a horrible start to the cycling season and many of the pro teams were wearing an unidentified jersey/jacket hybrid that went outside of their sponsorship commitments. It was the Castelli Gabba.
I went and bought a Gabba for my own use to find out what all the fuss was about. I originally wanted the long-sleeve version, but only the short-sleeve was available where I was shopping at the time. Therefore I bought the nanoflex armwarmers with it.
Since then the Gabba has undergone some minor updates and we took the new version out for a test drive over the past couple months.
Here’s what Castelli says about the Gabba 2:
Products like the Gabba Jersey define Castelli. Based on pro rider needs, created to offer a tangible competitive advantage and developed in a no-compromise pursuit of performance, this jersey represents the essence of who we are.
After four years of winning races in the worst weather possible and after being purchased by more than half the pro peloton, the Gabba has received an update. We’ve put a flap over the zipper to keep out drafts, and we’ve ever so slightly refined the fit, improved the drainage in the pockets and improved the construction of the waistband. And we’ve added a new color. It didn’t really need anything else.
But we’ve kept absolutely everything you love about the Gabba. Otherwise we’d have half the peloton angry with us.
The Gabba is one of my favourite garments in my collection (and I have a big collection!). The short sleeved version with the nanoflex armwarmers is a versatile combination and I have no desire to even test out the long sleeved version.
The fabric feels almost like a very thin neoprene except that the waterproof and breathability capabilities are much more suited to the demands of riding and keeping dry. The main part of the jersey material consists of 92% polyester, 8% elastane.
The fit of the Gabba is impeccable. The arms are slightly longer than a typical jersey, the front doesn’t bunch up when positioned forward, and the shoulders are shaped so that they fit nicely when bent over towards the handlebars. Some nice detail and touch points are evident in the collar, zipper, pockets and sleeves. This is clearly a garment designed and refined by serious cyclists.
For me, the Gabba performs best when I’m on a hard ride when it’s cool outside (I’m comfortable down to nearly 0-5°C and up to 15°C) and I don’t want to sweat and overheat. It’s absolutely perfect for racing or riding hard in cool temperatures. When it rains, the water beads off it and keeps you dry. The flap at the back is a nice feature to pull out when water is spraying your backside (for all other times, please tuck it in – it looks better).
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Gabba if you’re on a social ride and want to keep warm. It’s not the same as a nice comfy fleece-lined jersey or jacket that you’d rug up with in winter. Castelli have other products better suited to that. The Gabba works best when worn nice and snug, in dry or wet conditions, when working hard.
With over two years wearing the original Gabba and now trying the Gabba 2 improvements, I’d recommend every serious cyclist have this garment in their wardrobe. It’s in the $250 AUD price range, but its quality and styling will last you years and it will be well used.