Castelli Gabba 3 Jersey and Nano Flex + Warmers review

Stay dry and warm (but not too warm) during foul weather days in the saddle

Apparel
Castelli Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + Review

Wary of the weather? The Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + Warmers will keep you smiling regardless of what happens.

What is it?

The Castelli Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + Warmer is a fantastic option for riders who don’t want to let the weather interrupt their training or racing — especially during a time of year when 65 degrees in the sun can lead straight into a hail storm. This combination lets you ride comfortably through it all. Racers, particularly, are prone to struggling with wardrobe choice on days when hard efforts and cold, wet temperatures come together. The breathable, water-resistant, aerodynamic package these products together deliver is hard to beat.

Castelli Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + Review

All three pieces together will cost you $290.

Pros
  • Very comfortable, stretchable, fleece lining on the warmers
  • Collar on Gabba 3 is best we’ve ever tested
  • Allows hard riding to continue in just about any condition
  • All three pieces breathable while maintaining impressive water resistance
  • Great wind protection
  • Casual styling
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Gabba 3 is thick and hard to stuff in jersey pocket
  • Pockets on the Gabba 3 are fairly high
  • Gabba 3 jersey often out of stock
Castelli Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + Review

The collar on the Gabba 3 jersey is best we’ve ever tested.

RoadBikeReview’s Take

These days, it’s just about impossible to recognize almost anyone in the peloton at a local race until June. This is because over half the racers on any given Saturday in the spring racing season are clad in matching black outfits, rather than wearing their team colors. It’s madness. Good luck recognizing every move that goes up the road.

The reason is the Castelli Gabba. In fact, this single piece of racing attire has gained such popularity on the WorldTour that it is largely responsible for a recent UCI rule mandating that professional teams must be branded at all times while racing, even in inclement weather conditions that require traditionally unbranded temporary protection (i.e., the Castelli Gabba and its now countless counterparts). This bit of high tech kit is so essential to spring racing that it’s actually changing the rules of the sport.

I figured there was probably no better way to test out said spring racing prowess than by debuting the gear in a particularly turbulent Oregon spring classic, the King’s Valley Road Race. The forecast for race day was hovering in the 40s, with a significant chance of rain intermittently spread throughout our 75-mile race. I donned the Gabba 3 jersey with a light base layer, and added in Nano Flex + Arm and Knee Warmers, and a set of Velotoze shoe covers. This was a fairly light setup for these conditions, and I was admittedly skeptical. But the beginning of the race was dry and I felt confident in my kit choices as I rolled around for a light warm up, knowing that I could always make the race harder if I started to feel too cold.

Castelli Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + Review

The Gabba 3 is thick and hard to stuff in jersey pocket, so make sure your ride will truly warrant bringing it along.

As I rolled up to the start line, it began to drizzle. So I adjusted my plans a bit and put on a light Castelli Squadra Long Jacket, packable enough to stash away in case the pacing heated up or the sun popped out for a hot minute. As anticipated, within 30 minutes of the start, the sun did peek out for a teaser. But as I watched my competition shed layers, I scanned the surrounding dark skies and decided to hold off and see what happened. Predictably, that burst of sunshine didn’t last long and the clouds soon began to let loose. I was happy in my rain cape for the next 20 or so miles of racing, but soon things began to pick up.

Even though the cold rain was still coming down hard, the attacks began to come and go and I sensed an opportunity coming. So I tucked away my rain cape to allow for some more breathability when the action hit. Within 15 minutes, cold sweat became warm body heat escaping through the Gabba jersey and I immediately felt the increase in aerodynamics without the flappy cape in the way. The jersey was behaving exactly as described, but I was still pretty shocked. I actually became warmer when I took my jacket off.

Before the end of that race, the weather had changed its mind at least three more times, but not once did I look back on my decision to ditch the jacket, fighting that common, persistent feeling that I’m used to experiencing in this scenario. I could tell, however, that many others in my group were struggling with that exact dilemma. So while they spent precious energy stripping and reapplying layers with the changing conditions as the day wore on, I managed my first race win of the season. The kit definitely played a hand in that reality.

Castelli Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + Review

Don’t be surprised if it’s hard to track down this jersey. They sell out fast in spring.

Favorite Features

One of the best features of this jacket is the collar. The Gabba’s collar line sits high enough on the neck and wraps tightly enough to function as a built-in scarf, all the while allowing for easier removal than a traditional neck tube. It was tight enough to hold heat in, but loose enough to feel comfortable at any head angle. Perhaps most importantly, there is no annoying contact points in the hem or with the zipper.

The water resistance of this gear is phenomenal. Raindrops beaded on top of both the Nano Flex + Warmers and the Gabba jersey. That impressive breathability kept me from freezing when the pace picked up and sweat became yet another obstacle between me and that finish line.

The zipper on the Gabba 3 is solid and provides the kind of firm tactile feel you need when your fingers have gone numb, as well as the feeling that it won’t come apart on you after the first few rounds of usage.

The Nano Flex + Knee and Arm Warmers are stretchy enough to get on and off with ease, even over the shoe, for when on-the-bike removal is needed. They also feature a fabulous fleece lining that almost makes you want to wear them to bed.

Castelli Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + Review

The Gabba 3 Jersey and Nano Flex +​ warmers kept our tester toasty at race pace — and helped him win our tester this robe and crown.

Bottom Line

This set is expensive. So if you aren’t likely to get on your bicycle when the weather is bad, regardless of the clothes on your back, these might not be the best option for you. But if you have some funds to invest in quality kit that will last and keep you riding, regardless of the weather the Castelli Gabba 3 and Nano Flex + pairing is a sure bet to keep you going. The Gabba is an infinitely breathable, aerodynamic alternative to the rain jacket that lends itself so very neatly to racing or hard riding on hard days.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5 stars
Price: Gabba 3 – $180, Nano Flex + Arm Warmers -$60, Nano Flex + Knee Warmers – $50
More Info: www.castelli-cycling.com

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)
About the author: Dillon Caldwell

Dillon Caldwell is a native of Bend, Oregon with a big heart for the sport of cycling. He grew up to be a successful junior cross-country racer but got hooked on road racing during his time at the University of Oregon, where he ran the school's club cycling team for several years. He now spends the majority of his time as a road racer for both the Audi and the Canyon Bicycles - Shimano racing teams on the regional and the national scales, respectively. On the side, he is a mountain bike tour guide for Cog Wild, a cycling coach for Wenzel Coaching, a member of the board of directors for the Tour des Chutes cancer charity, and a passionate writer.


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