Castelli Mortirolo jacket – £175
Armando Castelli, working for a small clothing company popular with cyclists during the 1940s, made clothing for Gino Bartali. But later, while working with Fausto Coppi, Castelli first introduced silk jerseys – woollen jerseys were the standard choice – prompted by the desire of Coppi for a lighter jersey to give him an advantage in the heat and anguish of the Tour’s Alpine climbs.
But it wasn’t until 1974 that the company Castelli Sport came into life, driven by the son of Armando Castelli. Since then, the company has continued to push the envelope, constantly developing new designs and innovating where other brands have stood by and watched.
The brand aimed to cater for cyclists wanting premium quality, innovation and technology-led race clothing, and this certainly shows in the Mortirolo jacket. It’s one that, as we’ve found testing it recently, is perhaps perfectly suited to most typical UK winter days.
Gore-Tex Windstopper fabric is used for the front facing elements of the jacket, but the Windstopper membrane is removed from the back panels and replaced with Castelli’s Warmer fabric, a fleecy polyester that keeps you warm but is more breathable than the front panels. It’s a combination that works well together, giving a good barrier against the wind but keeps you cooler when you’re cycling hard.
Castelli have anticipated that some cyclists might appreciate a little ventilation (other than opening up the full length zipper) and so there are two vertical zippers on the chest, which open to reveal a mesh-lining. In use they do actually channel a surprising amount of cool air in, and is preferential to having the jacket flapping about with the main zip open. A nice alternative to opening up the main zip.
Attention to detail is something of a hallmark for the Italian company, and you really feel like it’s been designed by cyclists. This explains the details like three perfectly sized and placed rear pockets, the tall collar that is higher at the back to keep your neck covered when crouched over the handlebars, and the low profile cuffs with a design that does well to keep drafts out.
Fit is something that Castelli really focused on, and it pays off; this is one of the best winter jackets I’ve ever tested. There’s silicone gripper tape around the waist but the fit of the jacket is that good that it’s not really necessary. And the stretchiness of the material serves to enhance the fit when cycling, with no areas causing restriction. It’s about as close as you’ll get to a bespoke cycling jacket.
As for the styling, it’s an understated jacket and looks smart in black, and doesn’t look like any other cycling jacket out there. We love the snug fit and the high quality of the manufacturing, and does well to justify that high price tag. There’s several Castelli tabs and logos dotted about, and there’s a few subtle reflective bits too. It’s a light feeling jacket with virtually no bulk and because the fit is so good, there’s no rumpling up of excess material.
We’ve been wearing this jacket a lot recently as the weather has taken a sudden dip for the worse, and it’s been the ideal partner for long dark training sessions. The Windstopper front panels keep even the strongest gale at bay, while the rear panels cope well with increasing heat levels when you’re really motoring.
Though it’s not waterproof, it’s dealt with reasonably heavy rainfall impressively, and has kept us a comfortable temperature when it’s cold but not that cold. Paired with a short or long sleeve base layer it’s all you need at this time of year, and as we head deeper into winter, it can be backed up with a thicker mid-layer.
One note of caution, care needs to be taken when sizing up a Castelli jacket, as they still err on the small side in typical Italian style, so you may need to go up a size. It’s available in five sizes so everyone should be able to find a good fit.
Luxurious to wear, fits properly, deals with typical British winter weather and packed with nice details. Expensive yes, but it represents a serious investment, and if you’re serious about riding and training through the winter, you won’t be quibbling with the price now will you.
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