High Mileage Heroes | Oscar’s Castelli Gabba 2 Jacket

I bought my Castelli Gabba 2 jacket in early 2015 and after seven seasons of winter abuse it is still going strong. That’s what makes it a high mileage hero.

The semi-waterproof and windproof cycling jacket has seen countless club races on Sundays, as well as three years of riding the frigid Norfolk lanes while at university.

He also regularly ventured off-road on extended weekend gravel jaunts and weekly evening rides in the dark with friends. On the latter, it’s been a particularly welcome companion on many a homecoming after the pub, where you emerge into the unforgiving winter wilderness after reveling indoors in the warmth.

He was my faithful companion during a particularly memorable sports mountain bike in December 2019 called Dirty Santa, an event that lives up to its name. My friend and I were the only riders on cyclocross bikes, which raised more than a few eyebrows, and the conditions were biblical.

The Gabba 2 is windproof, semi-waterproof and breathable – everything you need in a jacket.
Dave Caudery / Our media

Most of the trail around the scenic Surrey Hills involved crossing streams of water, my friend suffering a tubeless puncture at around 10km which meant stopping every mile or so to put some more of air in the tire before you can find a magazine for an inner tube.

To put into context how miserable the conditions were, this was one of the only times in my cycling career where I succumbed to using a pressure washer to clean the bike afterwards. The conditions may have been atrocious, but the Gabba 2 kept me warm throughout and most importantly didn’t let any water in, even though it was soggy on the outside.

BikeRadar’s High Mileage Heroes

High-Mileage Heroes showcases the products that have stood the test of time and are now part of our daily lives.

These are not reviews, but rather an opportunity to talk about the kit we depend on and the products we choose to use when not reviewing new gear.

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The development of the Gabba

The Gabba 2 represented an evolution rather than a revolution of the original design.
Dave Caudery / Our media

The Gabba 2 replaced the original Gabba Rain jersey, released in 2010. It came in short sleeve, long sleeve and convertible variants, all in a variety of attractive color choices.

The Gabba flew largely under the radar until the 2013 edition of Milan-San Remo, where it snowed and the race was shortened. Many professional teams wore an unidentifiable, non-sponsor jacket with blacked out logos outside of their sponsor commitments and thus, the Gabba was born.

Towards the beginning of my tenure at Evans Cycles, we were occasionally rewarded with store credit to use on various brands. We had received a £50 credit on Castelli items and pretty much everyone used that plus some of their own money to buy a Gabba 2.

The jacket shows some signs of wear.
Dave Caudery / Our media

Looking back on the internet, it looks like the ‘Drive Blue’ long sleeve jacket I own has a recommended retail price of £180. At the time, that was about as high as high-end jackets, although it’s not uncommon for some to buy over £300 now.

Despite its high initial investment, it has more than proven itself.

A faithful companion in the cold

The fabric is nice and stretchy.
Dave Caudery / Our media

The Gabba 2 is phenomenal for keeping out the cold, thanks to the Gore Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric (current models use Gore-Tex Infinium). I just have to pair the jacket with a base layer underneath and it looks good on me. If it’s colder I’ll wear a warmer long sleeve base layer and if the conditions are a bit warmer a short sleeve is enough.

The Gabba 2 belongs to Castelli’s premium Rosso Corsa range.
Dave Caudery / Our media

Castelli recommended a temperature rating of 6-15C for the Gabba 2 and I found that to be accurate. I’m happy to wear the jacket down to 2-3 degrees, and when conditions cool down I’ll upgrade to my Castelli Alpha ROS 2 jacket (which will probably warrant a High-Mileage Hero item itself after a few more winters) .

The Gabba 2 fits me brilliantly with its tight, race-focused fit. The front does not fold when curved, and the collar and sleeves are nicely shaped and elasticated. Combined with suitable winter gloves and a neck warmer, the jacket leaves no opening to the cold.

Simply unzip the pocket if you want more ventilation.
Dave Caudery / Our media

It’s also very breathable, so you don’t feel like you’re boiling in a bag while wearing it.

If the temperatures warm up, all you need to do is unzip the pockets on either side of the jacket to provide some ventilation.

Sufficiently waterproof and deep pockets

The Gabba 2 takes bad weather in its stride.
Dave Caudery / Our media

The Gabba 2 isn’t completely waterproof, but it will handle a few showers. Even if you ride in torrential conditions and get wet, the Gabba 2 still keeps you warm.

It features the brand’s Nanoflex insert under the arms – this material is used on many Castelli products. The material is designed to provide the warmth and comfort of the brand’s Thermoflex fabric, while repelling water.

As with any jacket, the Gabba occasionally requires re-waterproofing.

I can store everything I need in the deep pockets.
Dave Caudery / Our media

The jersey pockets are as good as it gets – they’re deep enough and keep valuables and cargo secure.

Building on the success of the original Gabba, Castelli added eyelets to the bottom of the pockets for better drainage and I can attest that they work perfectly. Additionally, there is a drop tail at the bottom of the jacket to prevent mud splashes from getting on you and your shorts or tights.

Excellent value for money despite expensive initial outlay

I am confident that the Gabba 2 will continue to serve me well for the winters to come.
Dave Caudery / Our media

The Gabba 2 may have been expensive at the time, but it offered excellent value for money. It’s cheaper than buying two or three different layers of winter clothing and provides better performance.

If you opt for the short-sleeved version, you’ll be able to use the jacket in warmer conditions and pair it with the brand’s Nanoflex arm warmers when it’s cooler.

It’s a shame Castelli remodeled the Gabba into a short-sleeved affair, replacing it with the Perfetto, which uses a slightly thinner material.

The Gabba 2 revolutionized the cycling clothing market with its fashion-forward, weather-resistant jacket and it’s no surprise that virtually every brand has emulated Castelli and now offers a similar option in their range.

However, I would say no brand has managed to improve on Castelli and the Gabba 2 is a kit I’m sure I’ll be returning to for many winters to come.

About Robert James

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