When Chpt. /// (phonetically: Chapter Three) by Castelli first popped onto the radar this summer, we were intrigued. Castelli as a brand is two distinct things: Road racing and Gabba. Their Chpt. /// collaboration with David Millar is decidedly neither, a sharp departure for the Italian brand. Casual lines, fashion-forward design, and a minimalist aesthetic drew us in at first glance. When the call came in from Italy about carrying the selection, we jumped at the opportunity to bring unique and complimentary apparel under our wing.
We gave Castelli’s global brand manager, Steve Smith, a quick ring about the philosophy behind the line on his way home through the Dolomites. We knew it was designed in conjunction with British former professional cyclist David Millar (note: Chpt. /// is Millar’s brand, Castelli is manufacturing the on-bike portion of the line), and after handling it, we knew the quality was beyond anything we’d seen from Castelli before. Smith explained that Castelli and Millar have a deep relationship, one extending back to the brand’s re-entry into professional racing with Saunier-Duvall in 2005, with Millar serving as a key product tester and development testbed for the brand. Millar would end his career with Garmin-Sharp in 2014, still clad in scorpion-tagged kit. Post-retirement, he approached Castelli about producing clothing for a new chapter in his cycling life. The third, he said, the chapter after racing. The first two? His career before his doping admission, and his career after. He’d spent his whole adult life as a human billboard, and wanted something that…wasn’t. Millar wanted to bring something to the market for racers who were done racing, but still had the racer mentality, the lifelong marriage to the sport that rarely fades.
Millar and Castelli set to work, approaching legendary suit tailor (and Mission: Impossible clothier) Timothy Everest to consult on some aspects of the line. The result is an assortment that does something few cycling apparel pieces do – it places form before function, but doesn’t sacrifice comfort. You may lose five or ten watts in the dashing Rocka jacket versus a more technical piece, but you will look good (or more apropos, smashing) doing it. Aero gods be damned, the tops even have cool buttons. The fit is what you’d expect, trim and tailored, but it isn’t “race”. The quality of the fabrics and construction is exquisite, something we’re unaccustomed to seeing in brands beyond our own Q36.5 line. The aesthetic is distinctly British, and the kit wouldn’t look out of place in the local pub after a long ride, its wearer sipping a London Porter or three fingers of Talisker.
The initial Chpt. /// offering consists of a jersey in two colors, bibs in two colors, a short-sleeve jacket (the Rocka), arm/leg warmers, socks, and finally, a baselayer that might not look out of place at a Van Halen concert. The kit is designed to work well in a wide range of conditions, with the relatively long bibs constructed of a heavier, softer lycra than typical in most cycling shorts, and the short-sleeve Rocka nods heavily to Castelli’s legendary Gabba rain jersey. While not waterproof, it’s resistant, and articulated sleeves give it a unique look. Sizing is another sharp contrast to other cycling apparel. In an effort to bring down gaps in size, the tops pivot on suit sizes, while the bottoms are sized by waist. As sizing climbs in the jersey and jacket, we’ve found the waists to stay fairly narrow, while room in the chest and shoulders increases. Sleeves are quite tight, we advise going up a size if you have arms larger than a typical lanky Briton cyclist. Contrary to the rest of Castelli’s offerings, there are no extremes in size with Chpt. ///.