Castelli Espresso Jacket £194.99
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. The brand aimed to cater for cyclists wanting premium quality, innovation and technology-led race clothing, and was one of the first to embrace Lycra. Innovation was never far from the Castelli factory, which continued to work with many of the leading racing cyclists of the past decades, developing, pioneering and enhancing modern day cycle clothing.
The Espresso jacket, the company’s latest addition to its range, uses Windstopper X-Panther fabric, a stretchier version of the Gore fabric that’s both comfortable and warm. The material is combined with some lovely design features, making it possibly the last jacket you’ll ever need.
Inside, the jacket is fleece lined, with a large overlap of material behind the zip to prevent cold seeping through. The collar is tall, and is taller at the back than the front and shaped so as to better cover the neck when in the hunched over position that riding a bike requires. The top inch of the collar can be folded down if it’s warm enough The back is cut long enough to cover the top of the bum, and a section of logo’ed gripper tape keeps everything in place. Finally on the inside, a small zipped pocket on the right side is designed to hold an MP3/radio player, with a double-flapped opening taking the cable outwards and a small loop below the neck guiding the cable.
Outside, zipping the jacket up us aided with an extended tab of material which, when held by one hand, makes guiding the zip into place easy. The zip handle is made of a thick rubber and is long enough to be easily held when wearing thick winter gloves – a common oversight with other jackets, and a piece of fleece material hides the zip when it’s fully done up. Two long zipped ventilation ports on the front are of limited use; far more effective when wanting to cool down is to open the main zip.
On the back two large zipped pockets are lined with reflective material, and the rather interesting zip pulls, which despite being dismissed at first actually proved really useful when riding: there’s nothing more annoying than trying to open a rear pocket with a small zipper and big gloves. The middle pocket is left open, albeit with a flap of material covering the opening.
The sleeves culminate in wide stretchy cuffs, lined with gripper tape. They’re on the snug side when the 5” zip is done up, but opening it reveals a piece of stretchy material that allows the sleeves to expand, making both fitting your arms into place and accommodating winter gloves easier.
This is an expensive jacket, but you really are getting a lot for the money. On some rides that featured plenty of rain or were freezing cold, the Expresso was easily capable with keeping the wearer warm and dry. In warmer conditions it felt a bit too substantial. Adjusting the layering underneath sorted this, but for extreme conditions the jacket copes admirably. Laden as it is with features and smart design, all the little touches make slipping it on quite an experience, easy to use and easy to live with.
Sizes go from S to XXXL – as with many Italian clothing brands, the sizing came up a little small. Where I would normally where a medium Rapha jacket for example, I had to size up to large, so ensure you check the well detailed sizing guide first.