It's getting to be that time of the year when you need to dig out your winter cycle clothing or, if you need to, treat yourself to a new outfit. And why not? Cycle clothing has been getting better every year but it’s in the foul winter conditions that we’ve seen the most impressive advances with cycle clothing.
One company that has found favour with UK cyclists at this time of year is Italian brand Sportful. And key to Sportful’s range is its Fiandre collection. Fiandre is Italian for Flanders and the clothing has been designed to deal with the typically harsh and unpredictable weather across this region of Belgium, and which, in many ways, is very similar to UK riding conditions.
With windproof and water resistant fabrics providing the protection of a jacket with the comfort and weight of a jersey, and lots of thoughtful details, it is suitably cut out for the foul winter conditions we have to deal with here in the UK.
There’s more to the Italian company’s range than Fiandre, so let’s dive into some highlights from the latest winter range. Starting with something a little intriguing and unexpected…
The undisputed highlight of the new range is the Fiandre Cabrio Jacket. It has a neat trick up its sleeve, um back panel, that gives it the potential to be two jackets in one.
Cutting straight to the point, the back panel can be unzipped and removed. WTF! is probably what you’re thinking, right?
With the panel in place the jacket provides full 360-degree wind protection and insulation for colder rides, but unzip the large rear panel and you reveal a NoRain panel that massively boosts breathability so it can cope with higher temperatures, by allowing more heat to escape out of the back.
The rear panel just covers the top of the three pockets, so you can still access them when the back panel is in place. It should also serve to protect the contents a little as well. At the top, there’s a small overlap to keep it looking neat and tidy.
The removal of this large panel is expected to be something you do when assessing the weather and temperature before a ride, rather than making the change mid-ride, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t remove it if you do misjudge the weather during a ride. It’s not something you can do while riding along; I didn’t even manage to do it on my own standing in front of the camera.
There are also these neat double layer cuffs as well to improve insulation and fit. The inner sleeve extends to that stitching on the right, as you can see in the picture above.
I’ve never seen anything like it before, so it’ll be very interesting to try it out, as soon as conditions allow. If you like the look of it it’s available in a range of sizes and colours and costs £200.
This was one of my highlights last winter, a thermal long sleeve jersey with a wind-blocking gilet built right into the garment. You can read my review this year.
If there was a criticism, it was that it was limited to cold and dry weather. That’s fine, most of the time, but Sportful has now replaced the long sleeve thermal material with a NoRain fabric so you’re more protected if you get caught out in a light shower. This change gives it a wider operating window so you should be protected in a light downpour.
It also now comes in this orange colour as well as yellow and black, so ideal for high visibility lovers.
Here’s a brand new jacket in Sportful’s line-up. The Attitude uses Gore Windstopper 4 Way Mid fabric with an inner 3D mesh structure (pictured below) to provide adequate insulation for cold rides as well as adding some protection from the rain. Sportful recommends a temperature range of between 5 and 15 °C.
There are details galore including reflective trim, an elastic waistband, three rear pockets, the two outer ones made from a mesh material, and a high-quality YKK zipper, and it’s all wrapped up in a good looking and stylish design, with a choice of two colours. Costs £175 and comes in sizes XS to 3XL.
This Moire Thermal Jersey shows that Sportful has an eye on value for money, which it always has really, with a really well designed and feature-packed top costing less than a ton. It’s a long-sleeve jersey made from a lightweight thermal fabric with a silicone gripper tape-lined waistband, three mesh-lined pockets for storing all your ride essentials. Like the Attitude above this jersey comes with a smart design and a choice of three colours. This top has a slightly higher recommended temperature range of 10 to 15 °C, so not one for the very coldest of days.
The original Fiandre NoRain bib tights were designed to handle rain and keep your legs drier than regular tights and had a unique flap of extra material over the bum. The new Fiandre NoRain Pro bib tights feature a new construction where the flap is now stitched into the short, with the seam placed outside of the main area hit by rear wheel spray to it will keep you warmer without soaking up water and grime.
The front of the tights are also double-layered for extra insulation and, because these are the pro level tights as tested by the sponsored pros, the padded insert is the top-level TC Pro seat pad.
Sportful’s Total Comfort bib shorts are hugely popular with cyclists that want maximum comfort, and these are those bibs stretched out into winter tights, with some nice details. They’ve got a new cut and material construction compared to last year, using a stretchy thermal fabric with extra thickness in the front panels for more warmth, and thinner fabric around the waist to provide extra breathability where you’re likely to have additional layers over the top.
I like that you get a big bunch of reflective details around the lower leg. Zipped ankles, laser cut bib straps and the excellent Total Comfort padded insert complete the list of details. £150 and sizes from XS to 3XL.
As a sufferer of poor circulation, I’ve been on the search for the holy grail of winter gloves when it comes to fit and insulation, and especially when it rains. These look promising. They are made from Sportful’s own NoRain material to provide protection against cold wind and rain, more likely dealing with light and occasional showers than a really heavy and prolonged downpour. The sort of intermittent and drizzly rain we have to contend with a lot of the time.
The palm is helpfully covered with silicone print to increase your grip on wet handlebars and there’s a small tab to help pull them on and off. Sportful quotes a working temperate range of 10 to 20°C. They cost £40 and come in a range of sizes from XS to XXL.
The last part of your winter armour is a stout pair of overshoes, and these Neoprene All Weather overshoes look the business. They are made from a chunky neoprene with thermowelded seams to ensure they are waterproof, and there’s what they call a raw neoprene ankle closure to seal out rain.
This is a weak area for overshoes so we’ll be paying close attention for any sigh of ingress. There’s a pull tab to make it easier to get them on over the shoes, a small Velcro closing tab to keep them securely closed, and a few reflective details which is a really good idea on overshoes. They come in two sizes - S-M and L-XL.
Stay tuned for reviews over the coming months. More 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.