When it comes to cycling, Italian clothing manufacturers seem to be above the rest. Whether they are dressing the fashion models of Milan or the business men of Roma , the Italians attention to detail and ability to tailor make them some of the greatest designers we have seen.
It is not just on the catwalks of the large fashion houses, but on the tarmac of some of the greatest climbs that some of the best looking technical apparel is shown. Sportful are a brand that dresses the greats, modelling their ideas on athletic ability and comfort.
Sportful’s BodyFit range has been developed using wind tunnels and ergonomically cut to minimize the drag and improve the riders overall performance. The line has been designed for the pro cyclists but available to all. There are nine items in the range and all go together quite well and if you stay within the same colour palette you can easily mix and match. Ideal for hot weather and high alpine ascents this is Sportful’s lightest range and the DryPro fabric is so efficient that it dries quickly and wicks away any excess moisture. Once you reach the summit of the climb and pull the zip up for the descent it should be dry again.
The BodyFit bibshorts are designed with a compression structure and a TCPro chamois that has been made for those who prefer not to have a thick mass of padding but still require being comfortable on long rides. They even have a radio pocket placed in the mesh of the bibs so you can contact the team car! (At least pretend anyway.)
Many of us are not professional cyclists; however, we still want our clothing to match our abilities as well as our price range. Although the best advice I could give any cyclist is to spend money where you spend the most time, in the saddle.
The Gruppetto range has also been developed for the Pro cyclist and those that have the ambitions to become one. The cut is slightly less body fitting than the BodyFit range but with the same DryPro fabric and classic Sportful styling.
The Total Comfort Bibshorts are likely to be the best item you purchase. They are ideal for long sportives and alpine climbs offering you exactly what they state, total comfort. The chamois can get up to 18mm thick in the parts where you need it most and are perforated for much better breathability. The centre portion of the shorts has been developed with abrasion resistance to stop that annoying pilling and limit the amount of sliding around in the saddle that can lead to sores and discomfort. If you are only going to purchase one set of high end bibshorts these are definitely the ones I would consider.
When it comes to riding a bike we all know the value of a good bit of kit, if you don’t then I would recommend you stop buying your cycling kit off a market stall and invest in something that will not only dramatically increase your performance but keep you protected from the elements. The Hot Pack No Rain Stretch Jacket is ideal for any summer storm riding. This lightweight jacket packs up small so it takes up minimum space inside your jersey pocket. As it has stretch panels in the arms, back and shoulders it is in no way restrictive which I find comes into form when the last thing you need is the distraction of an ill-fitting garment.
I do understand that not everyone can afford to spend a lot of money on kit, or maybe certain people feel that they don’t ride often enough to see any benefit in the ultimate jacket or set of shorts. No matter how often you ride you shouldn’t have to settle for overweight, bulky garments that aren’t fit for purpose though. Sportful obviously feels the same way. Some of the less expensive items are not going to have all the bells and whistles but they are genuinely good bits of kit that are perfect for those who don’t spend hours every day in the saddle.
The Equipe Bibshort is a basic set of good looking, padded, mesh bibs. They have the ComfortPro chamois which is surprisingly comfortable. A 12mm thick density foam in the seat area of the pad is great for medium distances. They may not handle a 100 miler, but they are good enough for a few hours or a leisure ride with your friends. Match them with something like the Pista jersey and you have a low cost outfit that looks like it belongs with the pros.
When it comes to outer wear the Reflex 2 Jacket and Gilet are low cost windproof and water resistant. The reflective detailing is so good that it is safe enough to wear even when commuting in low light conditions and it folds up into its own pocket for easy storage.
Women also get the professional treatment. The Modella range has a soft feel and the perfect amount of stretch so you never feel restricted whilst riding. The shorts and bibshorts both have the infinity chamois which has multiple layers of thickness as well as a special 4mm layer of Poron that helps absorb the bumps as well as avoids heat build-up which can become extremely uncomfortable when out on a long ride.
Sportful have also created a detailed accessories range that can make the difference to your ride. Gloves with various amounts and types of padding that will suit a variety of cyclists along with hats and socks to match. The No Rain warmers collection are an excellent addition to a wardrobe as they offer rain protection for all seasons and mean that you don’t have to invest in long sleeves or full biblongs.
Whether you are a professional, a serious athlete or someone who wants the most out of their cycling clothing, Sportful have put a serious amount of effort into their design to ensure that you are not restricted in your ability to perform. The range is large but it is also cohesive, just like the fashion ranges sent out on the catwalk at the Milan Fashion week. Thankfully you don’t have to be a supermodel to wear it!