This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
Sportful's debut gravel-specific line 'Giara' was first introduced two years ago, and after including the range in every season's collection since, the Italian clothing brand has now updated the line and launched its Super Giara range.
- Gravel-specific clothing is now a thing, thanks to Sportful
- Sportful Autumn/Winter 2018 range overview
- Specialized S-Works Venge for the Sagan Fondo in California
Sportful Super Giara continues the gravel trend from earlier Giara pieces and combines the gravel-specific features with the brand's WorldTour-proven technical racing design — think gravel races such as Dirty Kanza.
The Sportful Super Giara range also has a toned-down aesthetic, which the brand says follows market trends for more subtle designs.
Sportful Super Giara jersey
Earlier versions of the Sportful Giara jersey focused on comfort and a relaxed fit, but the Sportful Super Giara turns its back on this initial ethos, with the brand opting to take advantage of its race pedigree — Sportful provides clothing for Peter Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe and Vincenzo Nibali's Bahrain-Merida teams — with the jersey sharing several design features with its race-specific clothing.
The sleeves on the Super Giara jersey are the same aggressive aero design seen on the Sportful Bodyfit Pro Evo jersey, which feature laser-cut cuffs. However, while the Bodyfit Pro Evo jersey integrates the sleeve into the shoulder panel for a more aerodynamic advantage, the Super Giara jersey has a traditional seam around the shoulder.
The rear of the jersey also mirrors the design of Sportful's Bodyfit jersey range, with a central panel reaching the neckline to prevent the rear of the jersey bunching up when in an aggressive position.
On either side of this central section, a less technical material wraps over the front of the shoulders, which makes up the entire front section of the jersey. The flecked design is the same soft-touch material seen on earlier Giara jerseys.
To the rear of the jersey, there are the traditional three cargo pockets with an oversized central pocket to accommodate more fuel, tools and clothing needed for longer gravel races or adventures.
A fourth pocket on the outside features a secure zipper closure, which is perfect for a key, credit card or other small valuables.
The jersey has a full-length front zipper and reflective Sportful logos on the chest and to the rear.
Aesthetically, the design is conservative, which Sportful says is led by market trends. Reflective panels on the shoulders and above the cargo pockets are strategically placed and help to improve visibility in low light.
- Available in grey/white, black/grey or green/orange.
- £90 / $109.99 / €99.90
Sportful Super Giara bib shorts
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Sportful Super Giara bib shorts are strikingly similar to Rapha's cargo bib shorts, which were launched last year.
Two pockets on the lower back, as well as a single leg pocket (unlike Rapha's pocket on each leg), offer additional storage for longer days when worn with a traditional jersey. The pockets also enable the shorts to be worn with a non-cycling specific jersey or top for a more casual look.
Like the Super Giara jersey, the bib shorts feature reflective bands on the thigh for improved rider visibility. The shorts are available in black, green/orange or grey/white.
A multi-panel construction and lie-flat bib straps draw design features from some of Sportful's other race shorts, offering compression, ergonomic fit and comfort for longer periods.
The seat pad in the Super Giara bib shorts is designed specifically for gravel riding. Dual-density foam aims to improve shock absorption on the rougher surfaces associated with gravel riding, while a smaller footprint should also help to improve comfort.
Sportful also says the bib shorts are made from a tear-resistant material to reduce the risk of damage from abrasions.
- Available in black/black and black/orange.
- £115 / $149.99 / €139.90
Sportful Giara 18 socks
At first glance, the Giara socks resemble the aerodynamic time-trialling socks you might see during a WorldTour TT.
High cuffs are stitched to a regular, breathable footbed and the cuffs are held up with a silicone band around the top of the sock.
While the socks are slightly awkward to get on, and feel a little strange to begin with, they remain comfortable throughout a full day of riding and there's no chance of the socks slipping down your ankle mid-ride.
- £23 / $29.99 / €27.90
Alongside the new Super Giara pieces, the existing Giara line-up sees design updates too, which include the loss of the fluorescent flashes for subtler designs. These feature the same reflective materials as seen on the Super Giara pieces.
Added to the Giara range is the men's tee and women's top, which are technical tops with a relaxed fit for gravel riding or adventures when there are no time pressures involved.
Sportful Giara pricing
- Giara jersey: £75 / $89.99 / €84.90
- Giara tee: £70 / $89.99 / €79.90
- Giara overshort: £70 / $89.99 / €79.90
- Giara vest: £90 / $89.99 / €89.90
- Giara bib short: £80 / $99.99 / €89.90
- Giara Women's jersey: £75 / $89.99 / €84.90
- Giara Women's shorts: £70 / $89.99 / €79.90
- Giara Women's top: £55 / $74.99 / €64.90
- Giara Women's overshort: £70 / $89.99 / €79.90
Sportful Super Giara initial impressions
Back in November, I flew out to California for the Sagan Gran Fondo and the short trip also offered the opportunity to get a couple of gravel rides in around the Mount Tamalpais State Park wearing the new Super Giara kit.
When Sportful launched its first gravel-specific Giara line I was sceptical about what it would offer that regular Sportful clothing didn't.
But, for me, the gravel kit's less aggressive fitting kit offers versatility and comfort, which means it can be worn all day and to pubs or cafes without feeling like you've just rolled in from a local Cat 4 race.
So, when I heard that the Super Giara line was making a U-turn to focus on bringing some race tech to the collection, I was a little surprised.
However, after a day's riding in the Super Giara kit I found the balance between race features and comfort has been struck brilliantly. Despite the aerodynamic advantages offered from the socks, sleeves and bib shorts, I never felt uncomfortable.
Wicking and compression from the jersey and shorts also worked well, with the jersey never feeling damp or clammy even in the high-twenties (Celsius).
The kit's race features perhaps encourage you to ride hard and fast, uphill and downhill, all with a smile on your face and away from the traffic and bustle of asphalt roads.
While the sleeves and rear of the Super Giara jersey have technical features, the front panel is a softer and less aggressive fabric, which doesn't ride up your stomach when not in a riding position.
While the Super Giara bib shorts aren't the first to offer cargo pockets, I like the idea of chucking on a regular tee with a pair of bib shorts and riding out for lunch or some drinks without having to strap everything to my bike, which maintains the original versatility that the Sportful Giara range brought.
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