I have always liked to ride my bike all-year-round and have tried many different ways of dealing with transitional weather. Dressing for summer and mid-winter are generally pretty straightforward, but it gets a lot harder in the spring and fall. Both in my hometown on the west coast of North America and here in Japan the weather can be very unstable during the off-season. The mornings can be cold with rain showers and yet be warm and sunny before lunch. It has always been a bit tricky to dress for the changing conditions and everyone seems to have their own strategy. Always preferring to wear the minimum possible when riding I decided to try the Castelli Gabba WS Jersey.
While it is race shaped and has a similar weight to a regular off-season jersey, it uses Castelli’s Gabba and Nanoflex fabrics for better than normal weather resistance. I have found that it is pretty much wind proof and can comfortably withstand short rain showers or road spray (although the seems are not taped and do eventually let some water through). It does have a slightly high collar and seems pretty good at keeping wind out when zipped up. As I do not generally go out in the pouring rain for long rides on my road bike the moderate water resistance was fine for me, and when I did get rained on the wind resistance combined with an inner layer still kept me warm enough while moving. The jersey itself seems well made but is on the small side for fit as are most Castelli offerings. Both of the fabrics seem to breathe well.
What about my arms? Well, I already had Castelli Nanoflex Arm Warmers made of water-resistant material that seem to do enough to make inclement weather comfortable.
As for the temperature range, I have found that mixing up base layers and arm warmers can give this jersey a very large temperature range. Wearing a simple wicking inner I have found it comfortable from 15-20°C. Add a short sleeve warm inner and arm warmers and I have been comfortable at 8-15°C and with a long sleeve warm inner, wind-stopper SS inner and arm warmers I have been able to ride down to 0°C without discomfort. It is probably important to note that I tend to be bothered less by cool weather than most people, and these temperature ranges change a bit if there is significant rain involved.
Overall I am very happy with the jersey and I am happy to have it as part of my off-season arsenal. I would recommend it to anyone who does not really like wearing a jacket in changing weather or prefers a race cut jersey for those fast flat land winter rides.
There are two colour options (black or fluoro yellow) and there is also a long sleeve version available that is a bit better in cold weather.
Good all-round weather resistance for a jersey
Covers fall and spring conditions well
Race cut for reduced wind resistance
Only two colour choices
*the image used in this post was taken from castelli-cycling.com
Riding in Japan can be a bit difficult at times, and if you live in the central parts of the big cities it can be even harder to get out for rides in the mountains or the scenic countryside. Riding out of the city, especially in the summer, can be very punishing as there are many, many light controlled intersections on the main direct routes and quieter back streets can often be very circuitous. Generally the nicest option for spending the bulk of your Sunday ride time moving along nicely is to catch a train out to the starting point of your actual ride. By regulation on train lines in Japan this requires you to bag your bike.
Normally this is not a problem if you have a ‘normal’ sized bike, say, somewhere in the range to 48-56cm. There are many options for bags available at these frame sizes, some of them even being quite portable. When you get into larger bikes (like my 63cm Trek 2300) it gets quite hard to find bike bags, and even harder to find bags that fold up small enough to carry conveniently.
Enter the Fairmean 160g Air bag. It folds up into a stuff-sack that is 6x13cm, weighs under 160g and can cover frames up to 63cm. Made of a combination of SilNylon and Dyneema, these bags are light, flexible and very very packable. When folded they can easily fit in a jersey pocket or medium saddle bag, but when pulled out offer full coverage of your bike (except the seat, which is not generally an issue on Japanese trains). It only takes several minutes to prepare and bag your bike (under a minute with practice) and not much more to remove and stuff the bag. This can be important when you arrive at a station to catch a rare express train a bit late and don’t have time to spend 10 minutes getting your bike bagged. I personally find stuffing the bag back in the sack to take the longest as the extremely packable material seems to just keep on coming as you stuff it in the sack (it is quite a lot of fabric for such a tiny bag).
If you have an oversized bike or just want a really light and packable bike bag I would recommend you check Fairmean out. The 160g Air bag currently retails for ¥13,500~ and is available through Fairmean.com. There are a variety of colours to choose from so you should be able to find something that suits your preferences. You can follow Fairmean on Twitter @FAIRMEAN or on Facebook at Fairmean.
I rather like my bike. It is a 2002 model Trek 2300 that has quite a few miles on it. It has travelled between countries several times and has never let me down. Over the years many parts have changed but it still retains the same spirit. Bikes do tend to evolve over time but we evolve with them and my bike is no exception. In its current incarnation it has Campy Zonda wheels, Shimano Ultegra 6700 groupo, Deda handle bars and stem, Fi’zi:k seat and post and FSA Carbon Team cranks. It flies over the pavement but is on the ground for breaking. What more could one ask for in a road bike?
I have wanted to get a GoPro camera and shoot some footage of riding here in Tokyo and elsewhere so I finally just went ahead and got the camera. I got a GoPro HD Hero 2 Outdoor set but found the bracket a bit too light to be stable on my bike so I picked up a K-Edge Go Big Pro Handlebar Mount. After fixing the camera to my bike with the super-solid K-Edge bracket I headed out for my morning ride.
The ride itself was not a really fast one but the weather was nice and it was a good morning for shooting. I do plan to get out more in the near future, shoot a bunch of footage and make nice compilation videos, but this time I wanted to give people a sense of what it was like to do road cycling here in Tokyo.
I just went on my first road ride of 2011 as well as my first ride since I got back to Japan. I will definitely have to find a route with less complicated detours. The ride back from the Ara River (荒川) was brutally complicated and tiring with very frequent stops and long complicated detours. It was not so bad going to the river, so I will have to look into a better return route. That being said, it was just great to be riding again!