The only complaint that we've had about Castelli's inclement weather cycling gear is that the women's models often come out a generation after the men's. That's not the case with the all-new Potenza Women's Jersey, though. We get the same wind-resistance, thermal insulation, high breathability, and water-resistance as the men do, but we get it without the wait time. We can't say the same for the professionals, though—Castelli tells us that many of them have asked for a team-branded version but, for now, the Potenza joins sub-15lb bikes and disc brakes as consumer-exclusive items.
In an ever-expanding sea of options, the specific recommended uses for long-sleeve jerseys and jackets can become a confusing mess of overlapping claims. The Potenza simplifies this: It's like a thermal jersey+, adding an element of wind protection that breathes far better than truly windproof membranes. As Castelli puts it, the Potenza is "perfect for those spring and fall rides where you need insulation from the crisp, cool air, but you're not ready for a sweat fest inside a jacket."
The women's Potenza consists entirely of a single fabric, Polartec's Power Stretch fleece, that's laid-out in a women-specific fit. Given Castelli's penchant for targeted constructions comprising multiple fabrics at strategic locations throughout the jersey, this relatively short ingredients list gave us pause. We found ourselves reflexively scanning the spec sheet for the inevitable "stretch inserts" that are often credited with compensating for the lack of breathability and inconsistent stretch-and-return properties of most foul-weather fabrics. We never found them because they aren't needed.
Power Stretch breathes, wicks, and stretches more like a base layer than an outer layer, but its densely woven knit and hard-face finish give it the durability and wind-resistance of a light jacket. When hit with a DWR treatment, the result is a top that blurs the gap between thermal jerseys and winter jackets by combining the breathable stretch of the former with the warmth and light elemental protection of the latter. It isn't water- or windproof, but that hard face finish does cut through chill, and light precipitation and road spray beads up to be shaken off without penetrating. Though Castelli recommends it for shoulder season cycling, we find that—if you run hot—the Potenza can serve just as well throughout most of winter.
Though Castelli doesn't call it out in its own catalogue, the Potenza is finished with full windproof protection at the throat and a fuzzy fleece inner collar, protecting an exposed area that often gets overlooked. The rest of the jersey's finishing touches exhibit a similar comfort-first ethos, including the lie-flat, bonded waistband and the CrossWrap wrist closures, which slide under gloves for plenty of protective overlap.
While layering, we find that the Potenza functions as a stand-alone layer in fall and spring or a super domestique base layer under a shell in the most violent depths of winter. When sized up, the Potenza's slim jersey fit becomes a layering jacket fit, letting you pop a thermal top underneath for dry days when you just need more warmth. Regardless of when you wear it, the Potenza is the very avatar of utility; it's finished with the erstwhile standard of three rear pockets, which is supplemented with the new standard of a fourth, zippered pocket. Unlike the men's model, the women's Potenza lacks a zippered Napoleon pocket—the only sacrifice the jersey makes.
- A thermal jersey for cycling in inclement conditions
- Tightly knit thermal material resists chilly winds
- Breathes and stretches better than fully windproof membranes
- The throat is further reinforced against wind
- Slim fit and soft finish recommend it as a mid-layer
- Low profile cuffs and bonded, lie-flat hem
- Three standard pockets and a zippered security pocket
- Reflective details help keep you visible when the light falls
- Item #CST00ET
- Q & A
New favorite jacket
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
- Fit: True to size
- Size Bought: XS
- Height: 5'3"
- Weight: 114lbs
Tried this a few months ago, size S was too big and XS wasn't available. Saw XS back in stock, really glad I tried it again. I dislike feeling chilly (to a ridiculous point) but don't want to be trapped in a sweatbox. I put this on at a sunny 60F, temp went up to 74F and it was perfectly comfortable with neck unzipped. Other jackets I have would be sweltering at 75F, but this one lets the breeze in as you're moving. I'll use it with a base layer in 50F temps, and those with normal cold tolerance could probably do the same down to the 40's. Perfect fit. Snug waist, long in back, stays in place for hours. The blue color is stunning and I'll look for it again in Castelli.