10 years of the Castelli Gabba Cycling Jersey
By James Bonney – 30 September 2019
As we celebrate 10 years of the legendary Castelli Gabba cycling jersey, here’s a whistle-stop tour of the story so far, plus an insight into the garment’s latest evolution.
For those not familiar with the Castelli Gabba, it’s a foul-weather cycling garment that falls somewhere between a jacket and jersey – waterproof, stretchy and breathable. Bred from professional racing and now a staple in every discerning cyclist’s winter wardrobe, there’s nothing quite like it.
Gabbing with Gabriel
The story started in 2009 with a discussion between Castelli and a group of professional cyclists hailing from cool-weather countries, including Norwegian rider Gabriel Rasch. The pros weren’t satisfied with conventional rain jackets that had been adapted from the world of mountaineering and sought an alternative solution for top-tier racing.
To get around the boil in the bag sensation experienced racing in foul weather whilst wearing a rain jacket, Gabriel Rasch had handsewn short sleeves onto an existing Castelli rain jacket as a hybrid cold-weather upper – here an idea began to germinate.
Several months later, and with more feedback from the pros, Castelli’s research and development team had taken Rasch’s seed of an idea and created the first prototype of a garment they named the Gabba – Gabriel Rasch’s nickname.
The Gabba took cues from Castelli’s contoured Aero Race short sleeve jersey but employed a dedicated Windstopper fabric developed by Castelli and Gore. Windproof, water-resistant but highly breathable, the Gabba spoke of everything the pros had been asking for.
Illicit Contraband in the Pro Peloton
On its initial commercial release, the Gabba slotted quietly into Castelli’s existing products, drawing little attention from the general public and going largely unnoticed. However, something in the pro peloton was beginning to stir.
Word had spread quickly of an unknown jersey being worn by a select few riders from Team Garmin-Cervélo – the only team sponsored by Castelli at that time – in the winter Classics season. Riders from rival teams were eager to get their hands on these mysterious Gabba garments and Castelli was inundated with requests for them.
A deluge of wet, cold conditions over the following few Classics seasons led to the increasing presence of blacked-out Gabbas across start lines. Often bought out of riders’ own pockets or purchased illicitly to replace existing sponsor garments, the underground Gabba revolution was gaining momentum.
Things really kicked off at the 2013 Milan-San Remo race where biting cold, snow blizzards and freezing conditions led to the majority of riders opting for illicit Gabbas – that year’s winner, Gerald Ciolek and even Cancellara were spotted wearing them.
In 2014 Castelli released the ‘pro edition’ black Gabba, which even came with its own black marker pen in homage to the illicit actions seen across the pro peloton.
Rain or Shine: The Gabba Today
Needless to say, the sensation caused in the pro peloton was only a prelude to the whirlwind felt in the wider cycling community. The Gabba has been imitated endlessly, but no competitor has ever managed to capture the magic that suffuses the original garment, and hence why it is now a firm choice for any discerning cyclist.
Throughout its iterations over the last few years, the Gabba has continued to speak of phenomenal foul-weather performance and the addition of its long-sleeved sibling, the Perfetto, has only built on that pedigree.
This year, the Gabba has been adopted into Castelli’s widely lauded Rain or Shine (RoS) family, giving a whole new level of foul-weather protection – of course whilst maintaining the breathability that makes up a significant part of the garment’s DNA.
The guiding idea behind RoS is that you simply layer up according to the temperature expected without worrying about what the weather decides to throw at you.
The Castelli Gabba and Perfetto RoS garments utilise taped shoulder seams and an all-new Infinium fabric, developed exclusively by Castelli and Gore, to give a truly remarkable level of high-grade water protection without compromising breathability.
As the official UK home of Castelli, Saddleback has had the pleasure of experiencing this story unfold first-hand and, as always, are super excited to be able to share it with you.