Baggy overshorts are not that common in road cycling, but Sportful reckons there's a market for them with its new adventure and gravel-fuelled Giara range of understated clothing. These Giara Over Shorts are comfortable and provide an extra layer of defence against trail muck and bad weather.
You're likely to encounter plenty of mud and water when riding gravel roads and events, as well as the many miles of bridleways and byways that crisscross the UK landscape, and it's this sort of riding where the DWR treated fabric of the Giara Over Shorts really comes into its own.
The shorts are made from a four-way stretch fabric with a reasonably fitted shape, striking the right balance between enough freedom of movement without being excessively baggy. You don't really notice them when you're pedalling along – there's no tightness or pulling at the waist, and the fabric is soft where it touches exposed skin above the knees.
The fit is great. A low front and raised rear ensure that the shorts sit comfortably around the waist when you're hunched over the handlebar and don't expose you to the indecency of a builder's bum if you happen to pull them over your undies for a dash down to the coffee shop.
There's no padding in the shorts, the idea – as the name suggests – is to wear them over padded Lycra shorts. Do that and they're superbly comfortable with no hint of discomfort in the crotch area at all. I've worn them on some pretty long rides with lots of road and off-road action and they all but disappear. There's a large mesh rear panel to add ventilation on warmer rides.
The waistband has concealed Velcro adjusters that allow you to tune the fit, and there are additional belt loops that could be used off the bike, but I found the fit good enough that I didn't need one. You almost certainly wouldn't want to wear a belt on the bike for fear of it digging in. In my view, Sportful has judged the length of the shorts just right.
There's a short zipped fly and button closure at the front. You get four pockets on the front, two smaller zipped pockets providing a safe place to store some cake money or the house keys, and two larger jeans-style pockets which you can use to stash energy bars while riding or your wallet when buying a round.
Talking of wallets... the Giaras are pretty good value too, comparing well with the likes of Rapha (Cotton Shorts £75, Randonnée £90) and Gore (Rescue WS £69.99, Element GT Paclite £99.99). You can spend less – but as a rough guide, £65 puts you in the lower half of the baggy shorts offerings on Wiggle…
The DWR treatment gives the shorts extra functionality in bad weather and the material is hardwearing and tough enough to withstand being dragged through brambles. When it's raining heavily or you know you're going to encounter some very muddy trails, they provide a good level of extra protection. Simply put, they'll keep you drier for longer.
Though Sportful is aiming the shorts at the gravel bike market, there's no reason why these aren't also well suited to commuting, touring, audaxing, cafe riding and even wearing off the bike, which I have been doing. They would also be ideal for summer bikepacking trips if you want to take some baggy shorts to wear when you arrive at your destination.
They're stylish and available in two colours, and a couple of reflective logos are a nice touch.
They go perfectly with the Giara bib shorts and jersey that Sportful released at the same time, though the Over Shorts do go well with other jerseys as well.
Comfortable and stylish baggy shorts aimed at the gravel market but ideal for a multitude of uses
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Giara Over Shorts
Size tested: 30in waist
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Sportful says: "Clean styling in a technical overshort that offers versatile simplicity. Four-way stretch construction, low-profile pockets and a rear stretch-mesh insert make this a great choice whatever your bike. DWR fabric treatment helps repel dust and dirt from gravel riding, lightweight mesh inserts and internal fabric structure help with moisture management on faster rides, and style details also work when you step off the bike."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Sportful lists these features:
Fitted cut with 4-way stretch
2 front zip pockets and 2 jean-style pockets offer secure and convenient access
Fully functional fly
Belt loops can be dressed up off the bike
Subtle reflective details
Top construction as usual from the Italian company.
Comfortable when worn over Lycra shorts with a nice fit and good fabric stretch, can be worn for long rides.
I've dragged them through overgrown bramble bushes and they're holding up just fine, and there's no sign of wear in the crotch area.
The fit is really good and easily adjusted to suit.
Found the sizing as I expected it to be, which is to say perfect.
If you were using them for touring or bikepacking for wearing at your destination, they're light enough to be stashed in a pannier or pack.
No discomfort at all even on the longer rides.
They're cheaper than baggy shorts from Rapha or Gore Bike Wear, but more than some.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Went through the wash fine and mud and dirt cleaned out easily.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Delivered good comfort and keeps the rain and wind at bay; a nice extra layer of protection on manky days.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Look great and very comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing to dislike really.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Baggy shorts aren't going to be for everyone but they have some really good uses, especially wearing over Lycra for mucky gravel riding, touring and bikepacking, or leisurely cafe and social rides.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.