by Josh Liberles
The Fawesome vest provides tight-fitting warmth and weather protection. © Greg Hudson, Corsa Concepts
The Cyclocross Magazine Labs had the chance to preview some of the latest product offerings from clothing company Castelli, and we found several that are worthy of consideration for your cyclocross wardrobe. Or perhaps someone on your holiday gift list could use better weather protection or a style upgrade? One of these items could be just the thing.
My best guess is that this garment is so named because Castelli, or somebody, thinks it’s friggin’ awesome? I won’t argue the point: The Fawesome is great on its own in cool weather, or use it as a middle layer on really nasty days. Unlike the Protezione, the fit is pretty darned tight, and the Fawesome’s sleek profile gives away its road lineage – I’d wear this in a road race with zero concern about extra wind resistance. On the contrary, it’s almost like a torso shoe cover.
The one thing the Fawesome lacks is pockets, but it’s a light, compressible, stretchy and waterproof garment that provides some welcome warmth when the weather turns. As the fabric’s name emphasizes, the Windstopper X-Lite Plus panel in front takes the edge off, while the Velocity fabric in back to let your body breathe. This one’s a keeper for the gear bag, and the fit’s going to keep me honest through the holidays.
The Fawesome comes in Black/Reflective silver trim or White with High-Viz yellow trim, Sizes small through 3XL.
MSRP $119, made in Macau.
Castelli Protezione Rain Jacket
The Castelli Protezione rain jacket offers a long tail, vented back and great styling! © Greg Hudson, Corsa Concepts
This has been a personal favorite this year, both for keeping precipitation out and for regulating body temperature on cooler, but dry, days. The Protezione runs on the larger size – especially for an Italian company – but that’s a good thing here as it means more ability to layer as needed.
The waterproofing is excellent, and the breathability of the Castelli “Torrent 3″ fabric is adequate. Truth be told, if I ride hard enough, I’ll sweat myself clammy inside the highest-tech jackets, but the saving graces here are the mesh vents protected by a flap beneath the shoulder blades in back and the “pit zips.” The Velcro cuffs also cinch down to keep out the wind, but can be quickly opened up for another ventilation point when things get steamy, and a drawstring around the waist performs a similar temperature- and weather-regulation function.
A light fleece lining around the collar makes the face and neck contact points snuggly, and a dotted reflective print provides attractive style with safety. One of my favorite features is the extra long tail – even if you’re committing the fenderless faux pas on training rides, your upper back and a good portion of your tush will stay dry.
The Protezione comes in red/white or black/white, has two side pockets, and is available in sizes small through Santa-friendly 3XL.
MSRP $249, made in China.
CW 6.0 Cross and CW 3.0 Gloves
Castelli CW 6.0 Cross Glove mixes minimal padding and breathability on the front with weather protection on the back.
Castelli’s 6.0 gloves have “Cross” right in the name, and although they’re certainly suitable for the road or mountain biking, they make a versatile choice for cyclocross. The padding on the palm is minimal, with a perforated Clarion palm allowing for good control, breathability and protection. The only pad is on the outside of the glove at the base of the palm. A microsuede back of the thumb is perfect for clearing specs – or your nose – and the neoprene back and Velcro cuff provide wind and water protection. Printed on silicone coating, the palms help increase the grippiness.
I found these to be great for the majority of my ’cross season: they provide some weather protection without sacrificing the all-important handlebar feeling and control. For me, they’re not warm enough for training rides that dip below about 50F, but the extra intensity in races meant that they were always warm enough for competitions.
The Castelli CW 3.0 gloves provide some serious cold weather protection. © Greg Hudson, Corsa Concepts
When it dips super cold – and it’s time we face up to the fact that our season runs through mid-January in the Midwest – the CW 3.0 glove makes a good choice. They’re a bit on the thick side for racing in anything other than arctic conditions, but they’re great for training or morning pre-rides when you need a little extra warmth. Thinsulate 100 insulation keeps your digits from going numb with relatively little bulk, and Castelli incorporates an internal membrane to keep out wind and moisture.
I’m happy to have the CW 3.0 in my arsenal, but I did find temperature regulation on long, hard efforts tough. Sweaty hands are bound to get cold, so I’ll often carry an extra pair of lighter gloves (the 6.0, for example) and swap at the base of a long climb or before an interval.
MSRPs: $49.95 for CW 6.0 Cross and $64.99 for CW 3.0. Made in China.
The main benefit of the Castelli Nanoflex warmers is the moisture blocking. © Greg Hudson, Corsa Concepts
Do you ride when the summer’s over, even if it’s raining? You’re a cyclocrosser, of course you do! Castelli’s Nanoflex warmers are more expensive than most companies’ equivalents, but they also offer unique protection: they’re impressively waterproof. I’ve had a set of the Nanoflex knee warmers for over a year, and although they show a little wear at the knee from millions of flexes there, their performance hasn’t changed. Stick your hand inside, run them under the faucet, and the water just rolls off.
The stretchy warmers are lightly fleece-lined and will help a bit with the wind, but Castelli only rates the arm and knee warmers down to 50F, and the leg warmers a little lower. If you see a lot of moisture, they may be worth the extra cost. Be on the lookout for other Castelli garments coming out with the same rain-beating exterior.
Available in Black, White and Red. MSRP: Arm – $59.95; Knee – $59.95; Leg – $69.95
More info at http://castelli-cycling.com. Stay tuned as we have a gaggle of product reviews – from clothing to components to gear bags – lined up for the next few weeks.