Review: Castelli’s Formula Full Zip Jersey Gulf Race
(2015) Audiences love a good giant slayer attempt. Chris Froome was the undisputed favorite going into the 2015 Tour de France, at Paris-Roubaix, racers look at what Fabian Cancellara is doing every year to gauge their approach, Sir Chris Hoy was always the favorite at the track. But somewhere an unknown nudges to the front, disregards the respect toward authority, and has a go at dethroning the favorite. This type of storyline shows up everywhere; take endurance motorsports for example. Particularly, research the story of the Ford GT40. Its goal, laid out by Henry Ford II, was to push Ferrari from the top spot of the podium. A business deal gone sour in the early sixties led to a personal battle on the racetrack. This busted business deal created the battle for supremacy through memorable machines. The car, which stands at a height of 40 inches (hence GT40), dethroned Ferrari not just once, not twice, but for four years at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. One of the more famous GT40s that encircled the Circuit de la Sarthe was the Gulf GT40. Henry Ford II himself was present for the GT40s first win.
This beautiful car has three distinct features to its finish: the powder blue base, the deep orange stripe across the lower front and down the middle, and the white number circle on the doors, hood, and trunk (relatively speaking). Gulf Oil quietly slipped their insignia on the front of the car and near the front wheels. There was nothing flashy about the car’s appearance: its reputation did all the flash work. It is a scheme that can be identified even today from a considerable distance. Anyone that is a fan of endurance motorsports can identify a Gulf GT40 from any angle.
It was this back-story that led me to getting excited about Castelli’s combination replicating the Gulf GT40 scheme of the sixties. Its homage to these colors is obvious. The jersey is called the Gulf Race. And while the Formula line has other colors, this jersey is in Gulf colors. Add in the fact that it’s a summer race jersey, and I was sold on it.
The advent of summer riding tops is one of the newer concepts in cycling apparel. Gone are the days when riders would wear the team kit for all four seasons. The solution to summer riding in the team kit? A mesh base layer to aid the removal of sweat from the body in the summer months. Riding with the jersey open added the ventilation not provided by the relatively heavy jersey considering the conditions. Swap out heavy garments for sun screen and summer riding becomes just a little more comfortable.
I received the jersey just in time for another heat wave and excitedly donned it for a mid-afternoon ride. I geared up purposely for the hottest portion of the day to see if this jersey would perform in the heat. It was up against low humidity but high temperatures. If the popping and oozing of the tar on the road were any indication of the radial heat off the road, it would be noticeable if the jersey didn’t perform.
I ordered the same size Castelli jersey I always get. I point this out because straight out of the bag, this jersey didn’t feel as snug. This is interesting considering that it’s supposed to be race cut. Feeling perhaps I was incorrect in my measurement, I recorded the distance around my chest and found that I had purchased the correct size according to the Castelli chart. The next size down would be quite tight according to the measuring tape. Was that reflected in the sizing? Things were not looking well in Gulf world.
Further oddities revealed themselves as I loaded up the pockets with flat repair and a phone (the basics). Typically I look for jerseys that hold items in the pocket without the hint of sag. I compare this fit to the leaders jerseys at the Tour that don’t appear to fit as properly as the rider’s team kit. If the lower portion of the jersey is that flappy, the items in the pocket will (and did) shift easily when standing, climbing, or just looking over the shoulder. Perhaps the fit of this jersey is different because of the mesh material. Perhaps the mesh side panels, which help in hot weather, stretch causing the lower back to be baggy. Perhaps Prosecco Strada fabric on the rest of the jersey stretches more than the size chart indicated. Perhaps it was the lack of grippers along the bottom of the garment. According to Castelli, this was the opposite of what was supposed to happen. There was to be no flapping, no creases, and no airy lightness in areas. Whatever the culprit may be it was difficult to overlook the flapping items in my pockets throughout the ride.
Once the bike was mounted and the heat was entered, I scoured the Castelli Formula’s performance to see if it was lacking in this area. In short, it was not. When fully zippered, the collar is not constricting. At no point did I feel the need to unzip the jersey in regards to the temperature. As a matter of fact, had it not been for the pocket situation, I would’ve forgot about the jersey completely despite temperatures in the nineties.
The shining moment came when a climb was overcome and a slight headwind blew in at the top of the hill. The jersey provided a cooling sensation that was welcome. Plus, in the afternoon sunlight, the color scheme looks even better. Other great parts about this garment is the longer than normal sleeves. If one wanted longer sleeves in the past, a long-sleeve jersey would have to be purchased and the desired length would be cut. Gone are the near-sleeveless effects for some of the more broad-shouldered riders. The final positive aspect revealed itself at the end of the ride when it was noted that the zipper was still all the way up. At no point did I feel the need to unzip to cool down. This is remarkable considering the temperature.
I applaud Castelli for bringing an historic color scheme to the cycling world. It would be nice if they brought bibs in the Aero Race category to match. Not only did they bring back a recognizable scheme, they also brought it to the race fit garments of cycling. All too often attractive jerseys fit incorrectly. While this jersey has discrepancies - perhaps if a smaller size were ordered to compare - this could be one of those keep-in-the-closet-for-a special-day attire. Or perhaps this could be brought out on a day when a giant is lurking in the group, and a little extra inspiration is needed to bring him down a spot on the podium.
An update to this article should reflect the comfort fitting of the next size down. The jersey fits wonderfully and has a little expansion, perhaps because of the material. It also has little flapping while riding. Take extra time to measure yourself to get the appropriate jersey. It will save time and return postage, and you'll be happy with the final product.