Like the previously tested Gruppetto Team Jersey, these £85 Classic bib shorts are made from the same fabrics and cut to the same shape as the kit the Saxo Bank team wear, which means you're getting proper race fit clothing, but without the garish logos, and at a decent price.
They're made from the same Aeroflow Compress and Lycra Power material that Sportful use in their more expensive Bodyfit Pro shorts. That makes these shorts very good value. It's an excellent fabric with just the right degree of stretch, they claim compression benefits but in reality that means they're just a snug well-fitted pair of shorts.
The shorts are well shaped and the various panels ensure they not only wrap closely around the legs and hips, but do so without any concession to comfort. This will make them appeal to racers, and performance minded cyclists who prefer their clothing tight fitting. The sizing is fairly standard (size medium pictured above) but some may find it worth sizing up. As ever, it's always preferable to try before you buy.
Sportful have placed the flatlock stitches so they're not in the air flow, to improve aerodynamics. I found it impossible to detect any increase in performance that such a small design feature could ever hope to contribute, but if you believe in marginal gains...
A much more noticeable feature is the seamless leg openings. We're seeing quite a few clothing manufacturers move away from stitched hems lined with silicone gripper tape. These rely on the stretch and compression quality of the fabric, and the result is greater comfort and no hint of the shorts sliding up the legs.
The bib straps are mesh lined and wide enough to distribute the pressure evenly across the shoulders. A large rear mesh panel aids ventilation, and there's a small race radio pocket towards the bottom. Unless you're racing, it's an unnecessary feature, though you could use it to store an MP3 player perhaps.
Without doubt the most important part of the shorts is the bit you can't see, the padded insert. Sportful produce a range of their own inserts, picking the third-tier BodyFitPro pad for theses shorts. Sportful describe it as their most comfortable long distance pad, and I would agree with that. It is perfectly shaped and has variable thickness padding so there is more cushioning where you need it more, and less where you don't need it.
An impressively comfortable bib short with great fit and looks
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Gruppetto Classic bib shorts
Size tested: Size medium
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?
Gruppetto is all about the Pro Team look, less the sponsor's logos but keeping the material technology, fit and cut the same. This short is constructed using AeroFlow Compress for smooth aerodynamics and muscle support.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
ace short for maximum aerodynamics and comfort
Legs in AeroFlow Compress for smooth aerodynamics and muscle support
Bodyfit Pro Seat
All flatlock stitching placed out of the air flow for maximum aerodynamics.
Seamless leg opening
Radio pocket on mesh bibs
Very good performance indeed, the fit is excellent and the padded insert is top-notch
They've been getting loads of miles and lots of racing, and they look box fresh still
The pad is ideal for longer distance rides
For a short that packs so much excellent design, I consider them good value for money
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A short designed with professional cyclists in mind but without the sponsors logos and affordable price
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Size, fit and pad
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's really nothing to dislike
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
An excellent bib short
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
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, mtb,
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.