The red and white scorpion instantly recognisable today adorning the bib shorts and jerseys of riders all around the world, wasn’t always there. The brand we know as Castelli today has a long and rich history, one that goes back before the Scorpion, and back before the beginning of the 20th Century.
In 1876, Vittore Gianni was earning a reputation as a skilled tailor in Milan, a reputation that would earn him the right to adorn players for AC Milan and dancers of the Milan Ballet. It wasn’t much of a stretch to begin clothing professional cyclists - the first specially designed cycling kit Gianni made for Alfredo Binda, then the champion of the Giro d’Italia.
Fast forward twenty years or so to 1935 and a young man starts to work for Gianni, one Armando Castelli. Castelli bought the business four years later and decided to take the brand in a new direction, focusing in particular on Gianni’s most successful clients, providing them with comfortable cycling wear.
But it was not Armando who would make Castelli what it is today. His son Maurizio grew up around cycling, and would later take the brand in whole new direction.
Up until the 70’s Vittore Gianni had focused on developing race wear for the world’s top cyclists and pro teams. Maurizio saw the opportunity for the brand to adapt, making room in their ranks for every type of cyclist. Castelli was born with their new logo in 1974 and in ’77 the first pair of aerodynamic Lycra shorts were designed, manufactured and sold to the public.
Advances in race wear technology were not limited to new designs and technical features. In 1981, Castelli shocked the cycling world when a handful of riders rode the Giro d’Italia in turquoise shorts at a time when only black shorts were permitted. Riders wore woollen leg warmers before stripping off and revealing the colour underneath. Castelli copped a hefty fine, but the publicity was worth every penny.
Castelli changed the cycling world forever when they proved that colours, patterns and logos could be directly applied to Lycra through the process of sublimation. Sponsorship was now a huge part of cycling.
Maurizio Castelli died at age 47 riding up the infamous Cipressa hill of the Milan-San Remo course. His ideas and passion are carried on today, implemented in such unique and ground-breaking firsts as the aerodynamic skinsuit, the first modern bib short, and the first implementation of nano technology which helps to wick away moisture, while remaining breathable.
See also: Our review of the Castelli Gabba Jersey
The brands direction may have changed over the years, but they have always been focused on creating the most comfortable cycle clothing, that performs the way a rider needs it to.
Castelli makes a range of clothing for many different styles of riding, but the focus tends to be on the road. Whether you are riding on the road in the rain, the sun, or even the snow, Castelli produces base layers, socks, bib shorts, gloves, jerseys and caps to suit your riding environment keeping you warm and dry enough to perform at your best.