Italian clothing manufacturer Sportful has made quite a name for itself in the UK over the past few years, by combining well-designed clothing that suits the demands of the UK weather and is also well priced. We’ve just received a batch of the latest 2016 autumn and winter clothing so here’s a first look at the changes. Full reviews will follow soon.
Sportful traces its roots back some 70 years but it didn't enter the cycling market until 1985. Since then it has made quite an impact and also worked closely with many professional cycling teams - it proudly boasts of providing jerseys for 10 world champions, the latest being Peter Sagan. It has made good use of its sponsorship of teams like Tinkoff to develop much of its clothing with the sort of feedback you can only get from the toughest racers and races.
It’s fair to say Sportful’s Fiandre range has been a hit with British cyclists. It manages to provide the right level of protection for unpredictable weather with adequate breathability to prevent overheating. For many, it has redefined how they dress for the variable weather we get a lot of in the UK when it's not uncommon to get all seasons in one ride.
New in this range is the Fiandre SW LRR Jacket SS (£185), a top that is expressly made for racing or very fast paced training in really bad weather. It’s intended to be fully windproof and capable of repelling light rain showers, whilst offering a high level of breathability to prevent overheating. It’s made from Gore Windstopper Light Rain Resistant fabric with all seams tape sealed, and is packable so will fit in a jersey pocket.
The YKK zipper is waterproofed and the three rear pockets have drainage ports so the pockets don’t fill up. The fabric has a small degree of stretch, but Sportful has added elastic inserts on the sleeves to provide a bit more freedom of movement. It’s available in two colours.
The updated R&D Zero Jacket (£210) is billed as the ultimate winter jacket with a temperature range of 0 to 10°C. It’s made from the excellent Polartec Alpha insulation with a WindWick LT outer fabric which is wind resistant and water repellant, and NoRain Thermal insets on the sleeves and back panel provide extra water resistance and breathability. There are 360-degree reflective details, three rear pockets and an internal zip flap to keep out the breeze.
Here is the Polartec Alpha insulation. It's low-profile and light but keeps the heat in and is very breathable.
The R&D Zero Jacket has these smart double layer cuffs to provide extra insulation and boosts comfort.
The original R&D Long Sleeve Wind Jersey, introduced two years ago, was and still is one of my go-to jackets for cold and dry days, providing superb insulation courtesy of the Polartec Alpha synthetic down. It has since been replaced by the new R&D Light Jacket (£170). It uses the same Polartec Alpha insulation as the Zero Jacket but it’s pared back a bit so it’s a lighter jacket and works at higher temperatures, up to 15°C, but only as low as 5°C, so you can probably choose between the two based on your predicted range of riding temperatures. And price. Because it’s quite a bit cheaper for a seemingly small trade-off in ultimate cold weather insulation. Details include three rear pockets and one zipped side pocket, reflective details and bonded elastic cuffs.
A staple of Sportful’s winter range is the Bodyfit Pro Thermal Jersey (£85) which due to its recommended temperature range of 10 to 20°C is ideal for early autumn and spring riding. Apparently, it’s a favourite of the Tinkoff team for early season training camps.
The main body panels are made from a TDTxp fabric to provide insulation, while the shoulders and sleeves are made from a ThermoDrytex Plus fabric that provides a higher stretch factor. There are three pockets at the back and a silicone gripper waistband, and on the front is a YKK Vision full-length sipper. It’s available in four colours and six sizes.
A new addition to Sportful’s protection range of clothing is the Hotpack Hi-Viz Norain Jacket (£130), which retains the lightness and portability of the other Hotpack jackets but is now fully waterproof due to the use of taped seams and AquaShield waterproof fabric for the main body panels. MicroShell Stretch material is used in panels in strategic places to improve the fit, which is ergonomic to reduce flapping in the wind.
The fabric ensures the jacket can fold up very small, with an integrated pouch in the rear pocket used to stow it when the jacket is not in use. As the name suggests, Sportful has given the jacket loads of reflective details to provide 360-degree visibility, and it’s also available in bright yellow as well as the black jacket pictured. Sportful quotes a temperature range of 5 to 25°C.
Here's how the reflective details look when illuminated by a camera flash.
Full reviews coming soon. You can see the full range at www.sportful.com
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.