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Castelli Espresso Jersey
133g Large (as tested) £130

The Castelli Espresso Jersey is part of the Italian marque’s range which they say will cover 90% of riding contexts and will become a go-to. Nothing new there-many brands promise the same, but it took a few rides for me to fall in love with these. Though a snug fit, it's less brutal than some of the aero models and the tactile, stretchy fabric is only noticeable in the nicest sense.

Pros: Lightweight yet rugged fabric, UPF30 UV protection, snug yet flattering cut, subtle, tasteful choice of colours, generous, well designed, supportive pockets.


Cons: Pricey but not outlandishly so,  would’ve preferred a zipper tag for the rear “valuables” pocket.


Castelli says it’s made from their Air O Stretch yarn, blended for a mix of “breathability, comfort and perfect fit” I wasn’t surprised to discover it’s the traditional 80% polyester/ 20% elastane mix but as we’re often saying, there are different grades, and this yarn feels close to a wool against the skin. I’m told the yarn features UPF30, which blocks 97% of UV light. Ours was winter blue but there are 9 other colours to choose from. 

Specification and detailing are uniformly good throughout.  

test review short jersey castelli

Round the back with have four pockets - the traditional (and very deep) three terrace and a zippered “valuables” annex at the side. The sort for stashing keys, change and other stuff you wouldn’t want to go AWOL, or vanishing into a verge. An elasticated him with silicone for added, gentle purchase.

Sleeves, in common with some other contemporary designs are longer than a traditional jersey and, in my view, a great thing, improving protection from the elements. Providing some additional warmth should the temperature dip, or 

test review cycling gear jersey

become a little breezy, as it can on those late spring and summer evenings. These are also raw cut (explain) for comfort, and I’ve had no issues, worn for several successive hours. No branding either when I’ve stripped off and headed for the shower.

Now, I’m very fond of some bold designs - Cycology’s range being a prime example. However, the Castelli’s Espresso range has a classy, flattering, ageless timeless feel rather than in your face. The sort that only draw positive attention at rest stops, visiting friends and social contexts where brash trade/team designs aren’t necessarily suitable. 


If the Winter Blue’s not for you, there’s Light Black/Dark Grey, Mocha/Dark Gray, Clay/Black, Sage/Electric Lime, Belgian Blue/Silver Moon, Purple Mist/Dark Gray, Deep Bordeaux/Silver Moon, Rich Red/Deep Bordeaux. Electric Lime/Deep Green is arguably the most retina tickling but I’d say its bold, rather than brash. 

test review cycling gear short jersey

A high-quality fill length zipper is no less than I’d expect, especially at this end of the market and I’m pleased to report Castelli has also opted for a suitably proportioned tag, making mid ride adjustments effortless. 

Sizing/Fit 3.75/5

Fit is snug but Castelli’s sizing chart is both accurate and comprehensive. I wouldn’t go the simplistic “one up from usual” route (although having scrutinised their chart I found myself large, whereas I’m medium by most brands). It’s also worth noting that I am broader across the shoulders and shorter in the trunk than my height and build would suggest. I typically run 44-46cm wide drops on the road, wider off road. Credit to Castelli, they also feature models of differing heights and builds for some further guidance. 


The jersey is reckoned ideal for 18-35 degrees, but I’ve not had any issues wearing a summer weight, vest typer base layer beneath when the temperature dipped to 11 or 12 degrees. There’s lots of give in the fabric and ours felt bespoke to my shape and contours. Ample length in the arms, roomy enough around the shoulders and around the back but without any excess material that could gather, or flutter annoyingly on a blustery day. 


It also behaves very well as a mid-layer, beneath packable jackets such as the Leatt Endurance 2.0 (link) and this particularly snug fitting Gore (model), even with fully loaded pockets. It’s a little more forgiving to lumps and bumps than some racers-cuts but it won’t smooth out, or otherwise hide a paunch.

test review cycling jersey pockets rear

Performance 4/5

Polyesters, rather akin to other materials are not created equal and this weave has felt really tactile against the skin, closer to a merino wool blend than a polyester yarn in that respect and though wicking and odour management didn’t rival woollen blends, it was pretty damn close and despite my conscious efforts otherwise, I’ve found myself quickly defaulting to the Espresso (and not because of my notorious love of strong black coffee, or that the Winter/Belgian Blue complimented the Fixed gear winter/trainer and Holdsworth’s French blue liveries - although that was definitely a plus). 


Aerodynamics are a little difficult to comment on with any conviction, unless you’ve wind tunnel test facilities (spoiler alert, we don’t) but in the real world, I’ve been pleased by zero flutter, or gathering thanks to the stretchy material. 


Pockets on some lighter, summer weight jerseys can be a little shallow, or lack support, particularly around the base. No issues here with trusty superzoom compact camera, six-inch smart phone and 600ml trade bottle in the main terrace, middleweight bunch of keys in the zippered annex.

I could simply crouch low and concentrate on the ride with no fear of launching the bottle, mortar style come the first bump. Though a road garment, I’ve done a mix of road and trail explores with ours. Well, Castelli did suggest it was a go to. Wicking and temperature regulation are similarly excellent. 


I’ve cantered along at a steady 20mph aboard the fixed, faster on the Holdsworth and in temperatures around the 20-degree mark, it took almost 40 minutes before that familiar misting was palpable around the pits, chest, and lower back. It certainly didn’t linger. With a gentle, temperate breeze it was predominantly dry and generally stayed that way, given 10-12 minutes. 


Obviously, this varied on faster rides and when the mercury’s been hovering around 22 degrees. At that point, I’ve tended to drop the zipper to half-mast for a boost of cooling air and of course to show off my medallion 80’s climber’s stylee. Again, even with this scenario flutter has been non-existent, even when I ‘ve been hossing around some sweeping S bend descents at 30mph, my legs spinning into orbit.

cycling gar review test jersey arm warmer

Thanks to the nicely proportioned tag, I’ve been able to draw the zipper up while giving the road my full attention. Minor moan, but while accessing the annex pocket isn’t something I’d do mid-ride, I would’ve appreciated one here, rummaging for change, or keys mid, or ride’s end. I can sense Castelli sending me head boiling instructions and I’ll admit it's not the most stylish solution, but slipping a zip tie through made these manoeuvres that bit simpler. Even after several hours riding, no sign of creep at the back, or arms. 


The latter will also play very nicely with arm warmers, should need arise. No, I’m aware those photographed weren’t the most subtle, some might say went against the classy theme but serve to illustrate my point. Being picky (and raised by an ex-serviceman), UV repelling yarns are becoming increasingly common and do offer some welcome defence from harmful rays but allowing for this, a higher factor sun block is still a sensible precaution during summer. Off road, the longer sleeves also offered some welcome protection from foliage and insects that can sometimes hide within them.

Durability/Care 3.75/5

As I’d expect, the Espresso is holding up very well despite a diet of wearing and washing. Not so much as a loose thread six weeks and 750 miles down the line. Mud and similar organic spatter have disappeared without trace following a thirty-degree machine, or hand wash using soap flakes. Given the colour, I was keen to avoid contact with chain lubes and similar but as we all know, this can only go so long before some spatter lands while you’re tacking a flat, or similar. 


I’ve left ours soaking in 20-degree water, with soap flakes worked into the affected area before doing a full wash and found the majority gone. From the machine, drying times are around 25 minutes on the line with a moderate breeze. An hour, or thereabouts hand washed. The odd provocative 40-degree machine wash hasn’t done any obvious damage, but this would be something I’d avoid wherever possible.

Value 3.25/5

These days you can get a decent, albeit less refined jersey for less than £40. Arguably £130 is at the upper mid-range but it's still an extremely competitive price point. The MAAP Training Jersey is £130 is also available in eight colours. It is also made from recycled fabrics, offers UPF50 UV protection and follows a very similar pocket configuration, including a longer zipper tag for the rear valuables pocket. 


The Gore Spinshift Jersey promises to be a “go to performance jersey for everyday rides” and at £99.99, a good bit cheaper than the Castelli Espresso.  The 7 Mesh Atlas Jersey Short Sleeve is £130 and available in three colours. UPV30+ UV protection and large pockets along with what they describe as a cut between mid and relaxed. 


You can pay considerably more. ASSOS Mille GTO Jersey C2 is £220, available in five colours and boasts “refined body-mapped panelling and newly developed textiles, in a cut appropriate for dedicated training or endurance cycling”. It also features a stabiliser panel for the rear pockets and UPF50 UV protection.


Ultimately, several hundred miles down the line, I’m inclined to agree with Castelli. The Espresso has lived up to the hype. Its comfortable, refined and seemingly rugged and, yes, its rapidly become my default for general, every day and longer haul riding. Being fussy, I would’ve preferred a tag on the rear “valuables” pocket, but this is a “Michaelism” and easily sorted by running a cable tie through it. 

Verdict: 3.75/5 Classic summer weight jersey with nice detailing.


Michael Stenning


Saddleback | The Home of Elite Performance Cycling - Road & MTB – Saddleback Elite Performance Cycling





Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH


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