Castelli's Alpha jacket makes base miles more comfortable – Bike Magazine Australia

There comes a point in each autumn/winter season where most cyclists lose enthusiasm for the trainer and start braving those base miles outside, no matter the temperature. It’s days like those, when you’ll be out for several hours in less-than-ideal weather, that proper gear can mean the difference between joy and misery. 

With jackets there’s always a bit of a getting-to-know-you period when you figure out how much you can trust it to do its job – and you inevitably end up tweaking your layering strategy a bit before you get it right. But with the Alpha Jacket from Castelli, it only took one ride to convince me I could ditch the safety layers.

The temperature-regulating power comes from an interesting partial inner layer made of a gridded fleece, which covers your torso and the tops of your arms, eliminating the need for anything more than a base layer underneath. Plus, with a second zipper separate from the one for the outer shell, you still get the options to unzip incrementally as you warm up – without the bulk of multiple jerseys. 

The jacket also has some unique fit features, including closefitting laser-cut cuffs for easy layering under gloves; a hem with a silicone gripper to keep it firmly placed between you and road spray; and a slightly offset zipper. I still got the dreaded stomach wrinkle, but it’s a rare jersey (let alone jacket) that doesn’t do that on my short torso. Overall the tailored cut felt sleek and flattering.

The Alpha has a Gore Windstopper outer and water-resistant coating, which means it feels soft, but also beads water and cuts wind. It also breathes fairly well, striking that elusive balance between keeping you sheltered without stewing you in your own sweat. After multiple long days at temperatures down towards zero, I was a believer. 

It’s true that the Alpha isn’t cheap, but it could arguably take the place of several layers in your cycling wardrobe, and carry you comfortably through to spring.

Copyright © 2016 Rodale Inc.