During the 2013 edition of Milan-San Remo, the weather was horrendous. Many of the pro peloton could be seen wearing a black jersey to fend off the foul conditions. That jersey was the original Castelli Gabba.
If a pro rider is willing to be fined for wearing a piece of kit not supplied by a sponsor and which is in breach of UCI regulations, we can infer that it must be seriously good. Other manufacturers have rushed to develop products to compete with the Gabba and match its performance in awful weather. In response, Castelli has launched an updated version, the Gabba 2.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
Here, CW tests a wide range of potential alternatives to see whether any of them have succeeded in surpassing Castelli’s benchmark.
Castelli Gabba 2 jacket
Moa Fredonia short-sleeve thermal jersey
Vermarc Aqua Zero
B’Twin Aerofit 900 jacket
Oxygen WS long sleeved jacket
Sportful Fiandre Light WS Jacket
Santini Reef Rain Jersey
Capo Lombardia DWR long-sleeved jacket
Rapha Pro Team Softshell jacket
We did this test in the hope of finding a superior and cheaper alternative to the Gabba, but Castelli has raised the bar with the Castelli Gabba 2. The Rapha Softshell is considerably less breathable than Castelli’s benchmark jacket, while the Santini and Capo didn’t fit quite as well. The Gore Oxygen and Sportful Fiandre were lacking in the tail.
Top tips for riding in wet weather
As for value, the B’Twin Aerofit was by far the cheapest jacket on test, yet performed very well — if you are on a budget, we would strongly recommend it.
Water-resistance was good across the board, but all these jackets eventually succumbed when worn in prolonged rain. The next challenge for manufacturers is to match the fit and breathability of the Gabba while improving on its waterproofing.