Sportful Spring/Summer Wear: Getting Rolling – by Grannygear
It was a few years ago now, when cruising through a cycling clothing shop in a small town in Italy, that I ran across Sportful as a brand name. I had never heard of them before, but my cycling guide for the trip assured me that the Sportful brand was top notch stuff. I fell in love with the graphic design on the jerseys and both the wife and I picked some up.
I mean, how can you not love a jersey that says Cinghiale Racing on it? Long live the pig, at least until it is made into a tasty stew. A bit about the history of Sportful from the company website:
“We trace our roots back to 1972, the year in which the brand Sportful was founded by Giordano Cremonese. The path to that day is unique and fascinating, being a story deeply affected by Giordano’s passion for sport and his strive to create firsthand sport clothing that sportsmen and sportswomen needed and were not able to find yet in the second half of the 20th century. Experimenting in his parent’s manifattura he started by creating from scratch colorful nordic skiing suits, and soon broadened his horizons to cycling garments, merging the family craftsmanship knowledge to his personal one in matters of sport and outdoor activities.
Growing a global brand in a small town of roughly 3000 inhabitants, right on the edge of the Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi could be considered a gamble by many. For the Cremonese family it was rather the wisest idea. Keeping connection with the roots of the company and a land that has seen the making of the cycling history on its road during summer and the nordic skiing one on the snowy paths during winter, is what allow us to love our job and develop products conceived and designed by professional athletes and demanding sportsmen and sportswomen before being meticulously tested right outside our doorsteps.”
Fast forward to Sea Otter ’22 and I found myself at a press session hosted by Sportful where they laid out their philosophy for 2022. One of fun and adventure while utilizing the highest of technical fabrics and construction techniques.
Here are some of the key words and focus points for the 2022 year from the press talk:
Sportful is always leading…
- leading with modern style
- reminding you that cycling is fun
- rooted in performance
- about community and that cycling is for everyone
Sportful is… Style focused
Tech focused, Fun Serious ,Modern Traditional, Adventurous Competitive, Accessable Exclusive“ INSPIRED BY NATURE”
“A color palette taking inspiration from fruit and natural tones. Earthy and vivid colors to easily merchandise with our dark and light neutrals.”
Well, alright. I can work with all that. I think most gravel riders can relate to it too. Life is serious enough. Let’s make riding fun. Hard…but fun! The trick is keeping a high level of function in the clothing, even when we are taking the ‘dead serious’ level back a couple notches.
I came away from the media presentation with a grab-bag of Sportful goods so let’s lay out what I will be using from spring into summer. Hint…hint…I have been in all of this and I am very impressed so far. Let’s begin with the base layer and go outward from there. All images were grabbed from the Sportful site and that handsome Italian model is not I. You will see me in the stuff later when I report back. I know you can’t wait!
– The Pro Baser Layer Sleeveless has all kinds of things going on. I think it’s called ‘body mapping’ where the garment has different materials depending on the area it is covering. This seems to be far from a simple sleeveless shirt.
I like using a base layer, even on very hot days, as it feels like I gain the ability to lift moisture off the skin and get that cooling effect of air drying out the fabric. But the trick is get a base layer that is not too heavy or swampy feeling.
Pro Base Layer Sleeveless $70.00
“For those looking for a summer base layer able to provide comfort, coolness, and ventilation even on the hottest rides, together with a close fit.”
– The Cliff Supergiara jersey promises to be a smart piece of kit, with a nice low key look. The cut is trim but not racy-tight (although I did opt for an XL, this being Italian sourced and all). It feels great to wear. It’s amazing how good technical garments are these days, far better than even a few years ago. The most unique thing are the 6 (yes…SIX) rear pockets. Never seen that before. Thoughts on that later.
Cliff Supergiara Jersey $145.00
“Cliff is the new Supergiara Jersey, inspired by the cliffs where we’d like all our off-road adventures to finish.”
- 6 back pockets for maximum cargo capacity
- Reflective elements on shoulders, sides and back
- Gripper elastic at bottom and YKK® zip
- Raw-cut sleeves endings
– Supergiara Layer Vest. Now you know that I love vests as I find them incredibly useful for my region and weather. The Supergiara Layer Vest is a nice orange color and looks to be a good all-rounder, windproof in front, but with an open back. Pockets are included, one being a meshy one on the upper chest area. The fabric feels very soft to the touch.
Supergiara Layer Vest. $115.00
- Can be rolled up in a pocket, with elastic for closure and for attaching to bikes, bags, and zipper pulls.
- Water-resistant and windproof DWR fabric, with lightweight mesh lining in front, with coverage up to shoulders
- Lightweight, breathable fabric on back
- Mesh chest pocket
- 2 back pockets
– The Supergiara Bibs really make you work to get into them as the fabric is very compressive. But so far, these have been very, very good to ride in. Sportful spoke about how they shift the pad type and coverage between road and gravel focused bibs as they feel that pressure and position changes between the two types of riding. It also has external pockets that can be very handy for keeping things within reach.
Supergiara bib short $195.00
A short specifically designed for use with a gravel bike: a special pad and three mesh pockets to increase the cargo capacity. Whether you want to tackle Dirty Kanza or a gravel experience of many hours (or days), you won’t be able to do without it. (Editor’s Note: The reference to the DK200 is dated. The event is now called the “Unbound Gravel”)
- Mesh cargo pocket on left side and 2 pockets on back
- Reflective bands on lower part of legs
- Anatomic design for greater comfort and airflow
– Giara Overshort. This feels like a lightweight, baggy, MTB short. I mean, just what is a ‘gravel short’ anyway!
They are a light fabric with three front pockets (one zipped), no back or side pockets, and a high rear waistband with some stretch built in and a reflective zone at the left hip.
Giara Overshort $95.00
A technical overshort that can accompany you on a gravel adventure, both on and off the bike. Wear it with technical underwear or a bibshort. It’s cut, zippered pockets, and DWR treatment make it useful in a wide range of situations.
- 4-way stretch fabric for ease of movement
- Fabric with DWR treatment for water and stain resistance and quick drying
- 2 zippered front pockets
- Fly and belt loops
I will report back as the miles pile up. So far, the bibs have been solid even up to 6 hours of riding with only one niggling fit issue, the base has been working well under the jersey, and the jersey has been supremely comfy and pairs well with the vest. The baggy shorts have been nice in the warmer temps and seem like an OK option, although baggies are not my first choice for rides.
Man, this is a good time to be on bikes and Sportful seems to be getting a lot of things right. More to come.
Note: Riding Gravel was sent the clothing in this post by Sportful at no charge for test and review. We were not bribed, nor paid, for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.