Sportful has its roots in racing, working closely with professional cycling teams over the years to develop and hone its wide range of clothing. For 2017 it has launched a brand new range that takes all this expertise and applies a more relaxed fit and style that looks a less race influenced than its Bodyfit or R&D lines.
It’s called Giara, Italian for gravel, and is designed to provide all the performance and function necessary in cycle clothing but wrapped up in a much more subdued palette of colours. The fit is more relaxed, too, less skin tight for those cyclists that don’t want or need to emulate the pro race super aero look.
Sportful calls it “classic style with modern performance fabrics” and says it’s aimed at “those that are seeking adventures and discovering new ways to have fun on the bike.” It’s designed for all sorts of riding, from leisurely rides along the canal towpath to lazy Sunday rides with friends and a nice coffee stop. And of course, it doesn’t look bad off the bike either.
“It’s about the journey, not the destination. Giara is built to explore, whether it be highways, lanes or gravel - this kit will keep you comfortable all day long with its technical construction and clean styling.”
Sportful first unveiled the new Giara range at Eurobike last year but chose the recent Strade Bianche race weekend to launch the new clothing. I flew out to Sienna in Italy for a ride on the iconic Strade Bianche (white roads in Italian) that crisscross the Tuscan countryside through the vineyards and olive groves, a day before Michal Kwiatkowski would eventually win the 175km race.
The gravel roads are a fitting place to test a new clothing range. Not as formidable a challenge as the pavé of the Belgian classics but they still need to be treated with respect. The surface is irregular with the consistency of the road quality varying hugely from silky smooth to washboard rough. In some places, the gravel has been brushed away by the few local vehicles that regularly use the roads, but in other areas, the gravel is deep and can snatch a wheel and violently throw the bike off its line.
For this ride, I'm wearing the Giara short sleeve jersey and bib shorts that form the basis for the range, along with socks, and complemented by NoRain arm and knee warmers (well it's still spring). The fit and comfort of the shorts aren't that far removed from the excellent BodyFit shorts, which is no surprise as the construction is similar and the padded insert is the same.
A bigger difference is found in the jersey. It's a more relaxed fit than a regular Sportful jersey of the same size, yet fits comfortably around the shoulders and torso with a little more freedom than the skintight feeling of regular race jerseys. For social rides with lots of stops when the emphasis is on smiles rather than watts, this jersey is an ideal choice.
The jersey, available in two colours, has three regular pockets and a zipped pocket, perfectly suited to carrying all you need for any distance adventure. The heathered polyester fabric used in the top half of the jersey is comfortable against the skin and handles moisture well, while an elasticated waistband keeps the jersey from shifting about.
Colour and design is a subjective thing but there’s no denying Sportful has struck a toned down, subdued appearance with nice flashes of brighter colours that tie the jersey and shorts together. There are thoughtful reflective details for those rides that last longer than expected and you’re chasing the sunset home.
The new range also consists of a pair of smart over shorts that look ideal for touring, adventuring and commuting, with a DWR coated four-way stretch material. There’s also a cap, gloves, a long sleeve jacket and there are women sizes and colours as well.
There’s no denying the rise in popularity of gravel and adventure cycling, and away from the obvious hype this movement is attracting there is definitely more interest in mixed terrain, go-anywhere riding. The bikes are getting more capable and making it easy to add off-road detours to otherwise regular road rides, with less focus on average speeds and KOMs and more interest on following new routes and your imagination.
The new Sportful Giara clothing range, with its understated appearance underpinned by performance design and comfort, perfectly meets this style of riding. We'll have full reviews of the Giara range soon.
More at www.sportful.com
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. 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, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.