Working at PBK can be pretty good at times. Working in an industry that I’m passionate about has its plus sides and envelopes stuffed with a few bike bits dropping through the office letter box is definitely one of them.
On this occasion it was the latest 2012 Sportful made Saxo Bank team clothing. A team issue jersey and shorts, the exact same stuff as the guys on the team use.
Many manufacturers produce two different versions of kit. The version available to the everyday public is usually of a lesser technical quality, but on the upside this makes it more affordable. Then there’s the highly technical material version with all the bells and whistles that is solely for the teams use. Both look very similar and you wouldn’t know the difference when watching the team on TV (unless you’re a real cycling geek) but once wearing it you’d sure to notice a difference.
It’s not a bad thing at all, if you’re on a budget and want to look like your hero then you can. The kit’s still great quality and in many respects it’s just a version that would have been used by the teams a few seasons back. Technology, even in clothing, gets superseded and trickles down eventually getting cheaper, eventually becoming a more affordable option.
Sportful though are one of only a few clothing manufacturers that offer the public the exact same kit the guys on the team are using that year. On top of this, the beauty with Sportful is that if you’re not a fan of wearing the team livery, with its bright blue design and eagle head motif, you can buy the more subtle and natural colour way of it in the BodyFitPro range. This is again the exact gear the team have on their backs.
Back to the envelope. I’m not one who usually would wear a team kit (unless it’s the PBK team kit), but for 2012, the design department at Sportful have done a cracking job on the look of the kit.
My first impression, even before I got the bags open and the kit out, was at how light and small the kit packed down to, especially the jersey. Then I noticed why, the small jersey looked unbelievably tiny, as though it was a kid’s kit. A quick try on though proved that the small did indeed fit, sure it was tight, but not restrictive. It’s designed to cut through the air, no lumps, bumps or unnecessary crumples.
The cut and materials used are very different from your ordinary jersey. This jersey features longer sleeves without grippers, a dimpled textured surface over the shoulders that apparently helps with airflow, a very stretchy Lycra front and a slightly more traditional highly breathable but exceptionally light back panel. This is then topped off with three rear pockets and a 3/4 length
The shorts are also designed to be aero. Again a few different materials are used here: The dimpled surface treatment is present but on a thicker grade Lycra, a nice high back and mesh bib with a media/ radio pocket, a silicone gripper leg and all flat locked stitched. The pad looked well padded and stretchy but somehow just not as technical looking as you see some pads in other high-end shorts. But as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover.
Pulling a sickie isn’t a necessary at PBK when wanting to train. I told the boss I had a trip to Biarritz planned for a bit of cycling. So the Basque region was to be the testing ground for the kit.
Performance wise it’s a great kit to race in. The fit and comfort are lovely but I’d advise only using it on hot days as it’s that good at wicking the sweat away and keeping you cool.
Even with it being so close fitting it never felt restrictive or impaired movement. The pad took a ride or two to get used to. At first I thought it was a bit odd fitting as I felt it was a bit smaller than I’m used to, but the comfort was there and I realised after wearing other shorts I took with me that it’s not as big, just slightly smaller. I guess as it’s designed to be raced in. With all the sprinting, climbing and chasing down attacks you’re up and down all the time. When racing you are never sat on the saddle for huge amounts of time like you would be if you’re out for a long day of taking in the scenery. Saying this though with it feeling smaller it felt slightly less restrictive and not so nappy like.
Last year I spoke with Richie Porte when he was riding for Saxo. I rode with him a bit and we talked about all sorts. I remember him saying that the team had asked for the pad at the start of the 2011 season to be changed. The current Body Fit Pro pad I’m guessing is the development from that.
The fit of the jersey is that close that I’d even recommend this to people who do the occasional time trial, it’s better fitting and more aero than a lot of the so called skin suits I’ve seen on the market.
Even with three rear pockets don’t expect to be able to stuff masses of items in them. They’re a bit smaller again than a standard jersey. You’ll fit your usual gilet or jacket, energy bars, money and mobile in, but don’t expect to fit an A-Z of the Basque region in. It would make a great fast sportive/ Gran Fondo jersey.
One thing that I really loved about the jersey was the longer than usual sleeves.
I can’t comment on the overall extra aero properties of the kit as I didn’t race or push it to its limits, but when passing shop windows I sure looked fast (come on you know you check yourself out too). The kits been tested in wind tunnels and I’m pretty sure the guys at Sportful know what they are doing, they’ve sponsored some huge teams in the past to get to where they are.
All in all this is an all day race kit, that’s what it was designed for and that’s what it does to an outstanding level. The shorts are super comfy and fit like some of the best I’ve ever used once I got used to the smaller pad. If you’re in the market for a well made, comfortable and highly technical kit the Sportful Body Fit Pro line would be well worth taking into account. If you’re a Saxo fan and want to feel and look pro, now you can.