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With sensible fabric choices and the addition of pockets, the Sportful SuperGiara bib tights are well suited to the gravel and adventure riding they are designed for, as well as all those long training rides through the winter on yucky roads. The pad is excellent too, offering loads of comfort on rough surfaces.
We have seen more and more clothing brands bringing out specific items for riding on gravel tracks, with the main difference over road products being a lot more pockets. Sportful's thinking is that for longer adventure rides off the beaten track you are going to need more kit, so you need ways of carrying it.
A lot of riders will attach stuff to the bike thanks to the huge array of bikepacking solutions available on the market, but for those things that you'll need quickly and often, the addition of three pockets on the tights makes quite a bit of sense.
The left-hand thigh has a mesh pocket which I found perfect for storing energy gels and bars. It uses quite a lightweight material so it won't carry anything too heavy, but it is deep so whatever you do put in there will stay put even when riding hard. On loose surfaces it made it much easier to grab something to eat without stopping than faffing around in a rear jersey pocket, especially with thick winter clothes on.
At the rear you get another two mesh pockets which I'll admit I didn't really use that much if I was wearing a jersey over the top, but on the odd occasion that I was riding with just a jacket and a baselayer on, I found them pretty handy.
They're large enough to carry a tube, some patches and a couple of CO2 canisters plus a debit card or some cash. Sportful has angled the opening of the pockets to slope down towards the sides which gives you easier access to them, as well.
The SuperGiaras are made out of a selection of fabrics designed to keep you warm where necessary and to allow breathability elsewhere.
Starting at the bottom of the legs, Sportful has used a lighter fabric than the majority of the tights; it still feels just as warm and has a bit of water repellency to it which stops road spray from soaking through quite so easily. It also feels less bulky under overshoes.
On the rear of each leg you get a subtle reflective strip, positioned at the right height to avoid being covered by overshoes.
The ankles are held in place by elastic and a silicone gripper; it works well and is more comfortable than using zips in my opinion.
The legs and main body of the tights uses a thermal Lycra with a brushed fleece-style finish which is soft against the skin, and you get a double thickness layer of the fleece around the knees and the front of the thighs for added warmth. Now that the temperature has started nudging freezing for early morning rides, I've found the SuperGiaras very warm indeed, especially when riding into a stiff northerly breeze.
The mesh used for the straps is thin and very stretchy which doesn't hinder your movement on the bike, but it doesn't have the softest feel.
It's not that noticeable when wearing a baselayer underneath it, but if you don't it can feel rather coarse.
The DMS seat pad used in the SuperGiaras is designed specifically for gravel rides according to Sportful. It's made up of various density foams that are split into sections by a central channel and grooves crossing from side to side. The central channel works well at reducing pressure and allowing a bit of heat to escape.
The rear sections are the thickest and the foam is quite firm, which I found to be great when off-road as it is supportive with no squishiness, and takes a lot of vibration out of the ride.
As you move towards the front of the pad the thickness reduces to the point where there is very little at the end. This is great if you spend a lot of time in the drops, something I tend to do on gravel, as there is no bunching of the pad to cause discomfort.
For long rides on the local byways I found the pad hugely comfortable and it's the same when out on the road.
Priced at £135, the SuperGiaras are up against some tough opposition but there is a lot to like. On the whole they are comfortable to wear and perform well too.
Quality overall is pretty good, with just the odd stray thread end here and there; some brands, like Alé, go through and remove these before the product leaves the factory, which gives them a much cleaner look and finish.
One thing worth bearing in mind is that sizing is on the small side compared to some brands. I'm a medium in clothing from dhb, Lusso and others, and while the Sportful range fits me in a medium it was a bit more snug than I'd usually like. If I was buying them I'd probably go up to a large.
When it comes to the competition, the dhb Aeron LAB Equinox tights are a fiver cheaper, but looking through Liam's review it sounds as though the SuperGiaras are a better choice when the temperature drops closer to freezing.
If it's tights with pockets that you are really after then these Sportfuls certainly look an exceptional price against the Rapha Explore Cargo Winter tights at £240. The pockets on the Raphas are a little more secure, with zips and things, plus the tights get a DWR (durable water repellent) coating which you don't get on the Sportfuls, though I'm not sure that makes up for the extra £105.
Overall, the Sportful SuperGiara bib tights offer storage, warmth and plenty of comfort thanks to an excellent pad, ideal for riding on the gravel or out on the winter roads for hours on end.
Brilliant pad and well-positioned pockets make these ideal for long winter rides on tarmac or gravel
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful SuperGiara Bibtight
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Sportful says, "IF IT DOESN'T FIT IN YOUR JERSEY, IT WILL FIT HERE
"We know. For gravel roads and long adventures, you need way more stuff with you. So why not have more pockets? The new SuperGiara Bibtight will help you manage your essential items, and maximum comfort is guaranteed by a seat pad specifically designed for gravel roads. The bibtight is made with different fabrics on the side panels, allowing for an almost painted-on fit. It's as if BodyFit took a detour on a gravel road. Perfect protection for winter rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Additional side pocket
Thermal stretch fabric to bottom of calf
Double thickness on knee to keep joints warm
Lighter fabric at bottom of leg and mesh bibs for optimum fit and light weight
DMS seat pad specifically designed for gravel rides
Tough seams and robust material for gravel riding.
They match Sportful's size guide, so that's worth a check as I found this medium to be more like a small when compared to other brands like dhb or Lusso.
This is quite a busy price point but when reading through the reviews of other tights around £130, like the dhb I mention in the review, the Sportfuls hold their own.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They've been through the washing machine plenty of times without issue.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The pad is well suited to off-road riding and the extra pockets do make sense when you are out for the day on the gravel.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very comfortable pad.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The strap fabric isn't the softest.
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 overall score
The quality is good, you're getting a brilliant chamois, and the fabrics are well chosen. I'd prefer a slightly softer material for the bib straps, but otherwise these are a really good choice.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!