Italy's signature recipes often thrive on simplicity punctuated with one, stand-out element that defines the dish. Case in point is the Venetian classic linguini with clams, which uses a simple aglio e olio as an unassuming platform for succulent bivalves that reshape the overall flavor profile of the dish. Though the company is based in Milan, not Venice, Castelli designed the Gabba 2 Convertible Jacket according to this Italian maxim of simplicity with a key element of distinction. The Gabba 2 Jacket provides all of the inclement-weather utility of the Gabba 2 Long Sleeve Jersey but with the flexibility of one additional element that redefines the item: removable sleeves.
The benefits of this feature are immediately obvious, but we'll digress briefly to explore them before detailing the jacket's construction and fit. Removing the sleeves makes this jacket wear comfortably in temperatures ranging from 43 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The sleeves, courtesy their lightweight Windstopper X-Lite construction, stow easily in one of the rear pockets. This is a lovely feature, but we do recognize that it's nothing new cycling jackets have featured innovations like this for some time. Castelli sets the Gabba 2 apart by extending the zippered sleeve over the shoulder in a raglan cut, keeping the zipper off of your skin and providing almost a foot of overlap with the short sleeves of the jersey for increased protection.
The Gabba 2 embodies Castelli's ethos of minimalism in construction by using as few fabrics and seams as possible. With the exception of the stretchy Nano Flex inserts in the underarms, the entire jersey is made from Windstopper X-Lite fabric. Windstopper X-Lite has 1.4 billion impossibly small pores per square-inch that guard your microclimate jealously. They don't let wind in, but they do let moisture and water vapor out. This isn't just based on vague marketing copy, though. The science behind Windstopper X-Lite is measurable in a rating called CFM, which stands for cubic feet per minute, used to measure the volume of air that passes through a fabric in, you guessed it, one minute. In order to be considered truly 'windproof,' a fabric must register a CFM of equal to or less than 1.0. The Windstopper X-Lite fabric actually beats this rating, so you're guaranteed a top that is literally classifiable as windproof. It's also treated with a water-repellant finish, so it keeps the warmth in and the rain out while wicking moisture from your skin.
Gore-Tex's Windstopper is amazing stuff, but as with the removable sleeves, it's not limited to Castelli alone. The new Gabba 2 had to stand out in some other way. Castelli was birthed by the work of Vittore Giani, a tailor from Milan, so it plays to the strengths of its legacy: sexy aesthetics and uncompromising fit. The fit truly defines the jersey, but it's worth noting how Castelli's artful minimalism informs the Gabba 2's looks, too. The jersey is primarily one color, but the barest hints of Castelli's signature red and a tastefully-sized scorpion logo on the upper sleeves and center pocket provide highlights for all three variations. Even the cyclists here at Competitive who typically eschew form for function admit that attractive details like the contrasting collar lining actually help motivate them to get out for those cold-weather, base-building rides.
Castelli paid equal attention to the jersey's cut. The sleeves are forward-oriented and the chest features an abbreviated fit compared to similar offerings from other manufacturers. This makes the Gabba 2 feel a little tight across the chest while you're standing, but your body fills it out perfectly while stretched out on the bike. It sits close to your chest and stomach instead of hanging down, eliminating the pregnant hippo look that so many of us despise in kit designed for cold or inclement weather, and the more forgiving stretch of Windstopper X-Lite means that it moves with you rather than restricting you. The Gabba 2 is to traditional winter garb as the burgeoning trend of short bodied, double vent suit jackets with high, round armholes are to the boxy tents that passed for U.S. men's wear in the 1990s.
The Nano Flex underarm inserts offer increased stretch and ventilation, which can be further supplemented by unzipping the sleeves. The collar is articulated to eliminate looseness while you're in the saddle, the front zipper overlaps for an additional seal, and the hem has a silicone gripper element that ensures the jersey won't ride up. The lower back includes three pockets with mesh drains and two horizontal strips of reflective trim to help keep you visible to motorists on the overcast, drizzly days when you'll really appreciate the Gabba 2's weather-resistant qualities. Its peloton-worthy cut, insulating characteristics, and low claimed weight recommend it for hard efforts like interval training and racing into the low-40s. Recreational cyclists or riders buildi