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Castelli Gabba R Review

Castelli Gabba R Review

05.04.24 11:51 954Text: NoPain (translated by AI)Photos: Castelli, @woutbeel (Paris-Roubaix)The sixth generation of the Gabba takes the Italians' "Foul Weather Race Protection" to a new level: waterproof, highly breathable, and the most aerodynamic jacket that Castelli has ever tested in the wind tunnel.05.04.24 11:51 2.040

Castelli Gabba R Review

05.04.24 11:51 2.040 NoPain (translated by AI) Castelli, @woutbeel (Paris-Roubaix)
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The sixth generation of the Gabba takes the Italians' "Foul Weather Race Protection" to a new level: waterproof, highly breathable, and the most aerodynamic jacket that Castelli has ever tested in the wind tunnel.05.04.24 11:51 2.040

After years of research and development, a brand-new, exclusive fabric technology was discovered, enabling the Italians to create a highly elastic, functionally waterproof, and extremely breathable racing jersey - with the fit and aerodynamics of a speedsuit and the wet protection of a rain jacket. Ladies and Gentlemen, Castelli proudly presents the Gabba R and the Gabba R Jacket. The "R" stands for Racing.

The History of the Gabba

Gabba: The name has now become part of the cycling vocabulary and is used as a generic term for a short-sleeved jersey designed to cope with cool and often wet conditions. Gabba jerseys are widespread in professional races when riders need to stay warm and ride hard. Although every team refers to their short-sleeved rain jacket as a "Gabba," there is only one true Gabba.

The creation of the Gabba Jersey is closely linked with the riders of the former Cervélo TestTeam, especially Gabriel Rasch, Marcel Wyss, Serge Pauwels, Jeremy Hunt, Dan Lloyd, Roger Hammond, and Philip Deignan, who in August 2009, together with Castelli's developers, worked on improving their rainwear as part of a focus group. It was the Norwegian rider Gabriel Rasch (nickname: Gabba) who addressed the need for a garment for racing in the rain that would not slow down the riders due to flapping fabric or cause overheating.

  • Gabriel Rasch...Gabriel Rasch...Gabriel Rasch...
    Gabriel Rasch...
    Gabriel Rasch...
  • ... with "his" invention.... with "his" invention.... with "his" invention.
    ... with "his" invention.
    ... with "his" invention.

During a workshop, Rasch pulled out his snipped-up Castelli Pocket Liner rain jacket, which he had completely detached the sleeves from at shoulder height. "Although the jacket is completely waterproof, it flaps, is bulky and not breathable," he made the assembled team prick up their ears. "To avoid overheating in the race, I cut off the sleeves and wear it exclusively when it rains and is especially cold."

Rasch primarily wanted to be aerodynamic and keep his torso warm; he pointed out that the endless pursuit of total waterproofness in bad weather races was pointless. In the following meetings, they agreed on a tightly cut, highly stretchable, and breathable rain jacket with wind protection, bib, high collar, and slightly longer short sleeves as the production goal - the starting signal for the Gabba.

The Birth Hour

With this initial idea, the Castelli designers set to work and presented the first prototype of a snug-fitting Aero Race Jersey for bad weather just a few months later. Made from a lightweight, stretchy, windproof and waterproof Windstopper material, developed by Castelli and Gore, combined with a fluffy and water-repellent Nano Flex fabric insert under the arms for breathability, the later "Gabba" jersey was born.

Subsequently, they experimented with various zippers and materials, as 100% waterproof jerseys were not particularly comfortable and absolutely waterproof zippers were not easy to open during the hectic race action. Moreover, some materials shrank after washing and the zippers puckered - in short: it was not an easy development process. The first prototypes raced in competitions were internally referred to as "Aero Rain Race Jersey", were completely black and aroused great curiosity in the professional peloton from the start. Although they were not yet fully developed, some wearers enjoyed at least a mental advantage due to the cool style and the envy of other team riders.

In 2010, the finished "Aero Rain Race Jersey" was renamed Gabba and was ridden for the first time at the spring classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad by the Cervélo TestTeam. The riders were absolutely thrilled and from then on trusted the new jerseys exclusively on cold and windy training days and in rain races.

Detailansicht
Thor Hushovd with the first generation Gabba at the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2010.

When the Gabba WS Rain Jersey arrived in stores two years after its ProTour debut, despite its preceding reputation, it was anything but an instant bestseller. However, the positive feedback from the sponsored riders and the great interest from other pro teams reinforced the Italians' decision to keep the product in their lineup.

  • After the dissolution of the Cervélo TestTeam in 2011, Castelli became the supplier for the Garmin-Cervélo Team.After the dissolution of the Cervélo TestTeam in 2011, Castelli became the supplier for the Garmin-Cervélo Team.
    After the dissolution of the Cervélo TestTeam in 2011, Castelli became the supplier for the Garmin-Cervélo Team.
    After the dissolution of the Cervélo TestTeam in 2011, Castelli became the supplier for the Garmin-Cervélo Team.
  • Initially, Castelli turned down requests from other teams regarding the Gabba.Initially, Castelli turned down requests from other teams regarding the Gabba.
    Initially, Castelli turned down requests from other teams regarding the Gabba.
    Initially, Castelli turned down requests from other teams regarding the Gabba.
  • Nevertheless, one repeatedly spotted rival team riders in major races with blacked-out Gabbas.Nevertheless, one repeatedly spotted rival team riders in major races with blacked-out Gabbas.
    Nevertheless, one repeatedly spotted rival team riders in major races with blacked-out Gabbas.
    Nevertheless, one repeatedly spotted rival team riders in major races with blacked-out Gabbas.

Castelli's success proved them right. From one spring classic to another, more and more riders from other teams were spotted wearing Gabbas, until soon the majority of the pro peloton was donning one. Teams like BMC, Omega Pharma, Sky, IAM, FDJ, and AG2R initially bought Gabbas on their own at retail price, until finally Castelli relented and supplied all teams that requested them with Gabbas. "The cycling world is like a big family, and we had friends in most of the teams, so it was kind of normal that we helped everyone out," said Marketing Communication Director Søren Jensen.

  • Castelli Gabba R Review

The Hype

On March 17, 2013, during the 104th edition of the spring classic Milan-San Remo, icy conditions with snowfall prevailed, and in addition to the sponsored team riders, most other professionals also reached for their Gabba Jersey. However, they had to paint over the red Castelli logos with black markers to avoid problems with their clothing sponsors. That's the story as it goes, which can be substantiated by numerous photos.

Detailansicht
Perfect Gabba weather: The legendary Milan-San Remo 2013 in all its glory.

The unforgettable images of the peloton, mostly dressed "in black jackets" - including Thomas Voeckler, Fabian Cancellara, and the eventual winner Gerald Ciolek - riding through a snowstorm before the race was interrupted and the riders were taken to the warmer Ligurian coast, caused a great stir in the cycling press and achieved immense viral reach.

Shortly thereafter, commercial sales exploded and the Gabba became synonymous with the all-weather jersey for cold and wet conditions, continuing its victory march to this day (now in its sixth generation).

As a successful marketing stunt, Castelli released the "Pro Edition" in 2014, where the jersey was delivered in a chic box including a black marker.

 More foul weather. More waterproof. More aero. More race. 

Gabba R
  • Castelli Gabba R Review

The Gabba R Material

Castelli's legendary Gabba has been considered a real insider tip for sporty cycling in the rain and cold since its introduction, thanks to its balanced ratio of breathability, weather protection, and Aerofit. It also offers exceptionally high comfort in dry weather.

Thanks to innovative fabric technology, it has now been possible to create a rain jacket with a stretch fit that offers unprecedented performance in terms of aerodynamics and rain protection. Thus, the electrospun outer membrane keeps out almost all rain, while its microporous, air-permeable structure allows the jacket to be worn after the rain or in dry conditions. Another advantage of the thin, flexible fabric is the ability to wear multiple layers underneath to cover a wide range of temperatures.

Castelli's Polyurethane Membrane*
  • The outer microporous electrospun hydrophilic polyurethane membrane has tiny pores, which allows for more moisture release and does not require an external textile layer.
  • The fabric weighs only 125 g per m2 and stretches at least double in every direction.
  • The inner fabric lining is made of 78% polyester and 22% elastane, to maintain extreme stretchability while simultaneously improving breathability.
  • The membrane and the entire fabric are PFAS-free.
* To develop the exclusive fabric, Castelli worked closely with ITTTAI, the leading innovator in membrane technology and lamination.

 Light, breathable and environmentally friendly. 

Castelli's Polyurethane Membrane
  • Castelli Gabba R Review

Aerodynamics - Sensation in the Wind Tunnel

Of course, aerodynamics played a significant role in the further development of the Gabba, as no athlete can afford to give away anything in races. Therefore, multiple visits to the wind tunnel were made to pit the Gabba R against its predecessors.

The result: In comparison to the old Gabba RoS 2, the short-sleeved Gabba R allowed for a 2.5% higher speed, which means that, purely mathematically, at 40 km/h, one saves about 2 to 2.5 seconds per kilometer. The long-sleeved Gabba R surpasses the Perfetto RoS 2 jacket by 3.5% and even the Slicker Pro rain jacket by 4.5%. The tests were conducted at speeds of 40 km/h and 50 km/h, as these jackets are specifically designed for aerodynamics at high speeds in racing.

  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review

The Incredible: To assess the top performance of the Gabba R, Castelli conducted two separate wind tunnel tests with other garments and complemented these with control rides on the road. It was repeatedly found that the Gabba R was actually faster in certain positions and at certain speeds than a Sanremo BTW Speed Suit, as used by the Team Soudal Quick-Step. Specifically, this means that the Gabba R was about 1% faster in a "normal" road position at speeds of 37 to 50 km/h, while it was only about 1% slower in extremely aggressive, low riding positions.

Although Castelli has no conclusive explanation for whether it's due to the material surface, the cut, or a combination of both, it can be stated: In wet and cold racing conditions, athletes can definitely ride the entire race duration with the Gabba R, without losing time due to changing or poorer aerodynamics. In the best case, they may even be faster than with their Speed Suits.

  • Castelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
Detailansicht

Gabba R White Paper

The aerodynamic results of the Gabba R were so astonishing that Castelli has published the complete test protocol and the results in the interest of full transparency.

Click here to download:

 Too good to be true. 

Faster with Gabba R than without?
  • Castelli Gabba R Review

Rain Protection

Since the introduction of the first Gabba, the focus has been on providing cyclists with comfort and warmth even in adverse weather conditions, while at the same time promoting their riding speed and performance. With the new Gabba R, this goal has been elevated to a new level by finally abandoning the claim of 100% waterproofness and speaking of "functional waterproofness".

Castelli's polyurethane membrane has a water column of over 5,000 mm. Although this may seem relatively low compared to certain outdoor jackets, which advertise with 10,000 mm, it is more than sufficient to repel even heavy rain. This is because, on one hand, it is not about preventing the penetration of moisture under the pressure of a heavy backpack or when sitting on a wet surface, and on the other hand, increased water impermeability often comes at the expense of breathability.

Furthermore, the Gabba R was not fully seam-sealed because this would have compromised the elasticity of the membrane. Instead, the seams were reduced to the essential areas: the shoulder area, the armholes, the back of the sleeves, and the back. With normal use, the hydrophilic properties of the material should prevent water penetration during heavy rain. Besides, the benefits of higher stretchability in terms of aerodynamics and comfort outweigh the disadvantages of minor water ingress. Only the seams on the top of the shoulders were sealed, as these are most exposed to rain while cycling fast.

The feedback from testers was varied: some reported no water ingress at all, while others reported insignificant amounts.

  • Castelli Gabba R Review

Fit - Put on, take off, or better to leave on?

Developed for WorldTour racing, the Gabba R offers 100% stretchability in all directions. The tight fit optimizes aerodynamics, while comfort is maintained thanks to the high elasticity. In tests, Castelli found that the moisture that forms inside the jacket during intense efforts tends to stay warmer due to the body-hugging cut, as it is kept close to the body and causes less cold due to wind chill than other jackets.

For a looser fit, especially when wearing over thermal layers in very cold temperatures, the Italians recommend choosing one size larger, as Kasper Asgreen does for winter training in Denmark.

  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review

Putting on and taking off

Putting on the jacket, especially the long-sleeve version, requires some effort due to the stretchable sleeves and the snug forearm that prevents flapping in the wind. Castelli explicitly recommends NOT to put on the Gabba R Jacket while riding, especially NOT when the skin or clothing is already moist from sweat or the first minutes of a rain shower. During a race, it is more advisable to either opt for the Gabba R with short sleeves or to make a quick stop to put on the Gabba R Jacket. Alternatively, the Gabba R Jacket can be worn before the start in cool temperatures due to its aerodynamic benefits.

Taking off both jackets, on the other hand, should not pose any problem. While the Gabba R can be easily stripped off, the Gabba R Jacket has an additional design detail: the lower sleeve is covered with an extra layer of fabric that slides over a wet hand more easily than the exposed membrane, which tends to stick. Simply remove your gloves and pull the sleeves down over your hands from the top.

  • Castelli Gabba R Review

Photo Gallery: Paris - Roubaix Training 2024

  • Castelli Gabba R Review

Gabba Line-Up 2024/25

Until now, the Gabba was available exclusively as a short-sleeved jacket for sporty cycling or racing in the rain and cold, while the similar Perfetto jacket was intended as an all-rounder for cool to cold weather. Nevertheless, the Perfetto LS was performant enough to be the choice of Egan Bernal when he won the rainy 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia 2021 over the Passo Giau.

From now on, the Gabba R Jacket, a long-sleeved jacket, joins the Gabba portfolio, which can also be folded down very compactly to fit into a jersey pocket. Despite being called a "jacket," it offers no significant insulation alongside its waterproof and aerodynamic properties and should therefore be combined with warming layers according to the onion principle if necessary. Castelli's racers were well protected even at 5°C with persistent rain, wearing just a long-sleeve undershirt and a medium-weight jersey underneath.

Digression: Perfetto vs. Gabba vs. RoS

Back in 2009, it was all about a water-repellent short-sleeve jersey with Nanoflex sleeves for rain and cold, but today many other variants, different clothing items, and numerous marketing terms have been added. To counter any confusion, we want to briefly explain and differentiate the terms Perfetto, Gabba, and RoS.

Under Perfetto, which is Italian for "perfect," Castelli understands its complete all-weather collection, designed to protect the rider not just in rain and cold, but in all weather conditions. The Gabba exclusively represents the short-sleeve product in the Perfetto family.

Castelli's Perfetto RoS or Gabba RoS products in their latest generation are more water-resistant, breathable, and snug-fitting than ever before, so that riders in bad weather can rejoice. "RoS" stands for "Rain or Shine," which in German means "Regen oder Sonnenschein." With Perfetto RoS, the main focus is primarily on comfort in dry conditions, while the Perfettos are also intended to provide high protection in bad weather.

Castelli recommends the short-sleeved Gabba R as the preferred garment for racing in the rain at cool temperatures and in critical situations, as well as the long-sleeved Gabba R Jacket as a complete rainwear replacement and the first choice for training and racing in cold, wet weather.

  • Gabba R (Item No. 4524505)
XS-3XL
10-18°C
145 g / RACE
€ 259.95Gabba R (Item No. 4524505)
XS-3XL
10-18°C
145 g / RACE
€ 259.95
    Gabba R (Item No. 4524505)
    XS-3XL
    10-18°C
    145 g / RACE
    € 259.95
    Gabba R (Item No. 4524505)
    XS-3XL
    10-18°C
    145 g / RACE
    € 259.95
  • Gabba R Jacket (Item No. 4524504)
XS-3XL
4-18°C
187 g / RACE
€ 299.95Gabba R Jacket (Item No. 4524504)
XS-3XL
4-18°C
187 g / RACE
€ 299.95
    Gabba R Jacket (Item No. 4524504)
    XS-3XL
    4-18°C
    187 g / RACE
    € 299.95
    Gabba R Jacket (Item No. 4524504)
    XS-3XL
    4-18°C
    187 g / RACE
    € 299.95

The two men's models are available for order immediately. A Gabba R Jacket for women will follow in the fall.

The color of the fabric corresponds to the natural color of the membrane - gray. Producing the Gabba R in other colors would require that the membrane be made in different colors first, by mixing the dyes directly into the polyurethane during the hydro-spinning process. Given the significant chemical complexity involved in producing a PFAS-free, waterproof, hydro-spun, air-permeable membrane, it will remain gray for now. Other colors will be available in the near future.

  • Castelli Gabba R Review

Additional Features

The Gabba R features a waterproof YKK Vislon Aquaguard zipper, known for its smooth operation.

The elastic fabric has been bonded at the collar and waist to ensure the edges lie flat and provide improved wearing comfort. But the sleeve ends are also "raw" cut, to keep them thin so that they fit both in and over the gloves.

  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review

The back pockets were made of a highly elastic material and have drainage openings to prevent water accumulation. The area around the back pockets is made of the same material to allow easier sliding in or removal of items like a phone or a bar. This was done because the rough surface of the exposed membrane made using the jersey pockets difficult.

To make taking off the Gabba R jacket easier, Castelli added an additional layer of fabric on the forearms so that the sleeves can slide more easily over wet hands. Last but not least, for better visibility in poor light conditions, there is a reflective strip on the back.

  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R Review

Handle with care

Where there is much light, there is also shadow, as the exposed membrane on the outside of the garment can be easily damaged, especially if it is excessively stretched. Therefore, owners should avoid sharp objects and refrain from testing the fabric with their fingers or fingernails.

Despite everything, the jacket can be washed in the washing machine with commercial powder or liquid detergents in cold or warm water (maximum 30°C to 40°C). Afterward, it should be hung up to dry; drying in a tumble dryer is not recommended.

  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review
  • Castelli Gabba R ReviewCastelli Gabba R Review

Gabba RoS 2 and Perfetto RoS 2 continue in the lineup

All those who are at odds with particularly tight-fitting clothing, do not need full rain protection, prefer brighter colors, or do not want to wear a shiny, rubberized jacket during the coffee break, continue to turn to the Gabba RoS 2 and the Perfetto RoS 2 Jacket.

Both garments made from Castelli's exclusive Gore Infinium Windstopper fabric will remain available in various colors until the winter of 2024/2025, are significantly more affordable, and do not require any additional care.

  • Castelli Gabba R Review