Behind Sportful’s head office in Fonzaso, Italy in the province of Belluno the mountains rise up from the valley in the foothills of the Dolomites. For the staff of the Italian apparel company that means the moment the seamstresses are done with a prototype, they can head out for a 40-km lunch ride up to passo Croce d’Aune and then back down to test it out. When they arrive back to the office, they can go straight to a seamstress who sowed the piece to give feedback and suggest modifications.
I was outfitted in Sportful R&D Cima bib shorts, an R&D Cima jersey and R&D socks when I rode this same loop. My Garmin read 32 degrees when I rolled out of the parking lot and luckily the benefits of the extremely breathable compression mesh that makes up large panels on the bib shorts and the breathable honeycomb like fabric on the jersey were immediately apparent.
The cut of the kit is very racy. Long sleeves, a close fit that leaves no loose fabric flapping in the wind, and mild compression on the arms and legs. The compression may feel a little strange if you are used to silicon or lycra bands holding your kit in place but I quickly became quite fond of it. There are no pressure points just enough squeeze to hold everything in place. On the shorts the mesh fabric wraps along the outer side of the leg until the hips. The jersey is made from a honeycomb patterned fabric. Do note the fit is quite tight so you may want to go a size up than what you would in a Gran Fondo style kit.
While my tired legs were not up for a hard 40 km, the compression was very welcome as I tried to spin heavy legs up the steady climb. The jersey is so breathable that even at low speeds you feel wind passing over your body. My sweat was quickly wicked away and evaporated. The socks are also noticeably light and breathable.
While some mesh leave you vulnerable to sunburns through the fabric, Sportful say this is not an issue with this kit. Over two hours I have no reason to contest this. I applied sunscreen on my legs and arms but not under my kit and it was not an issue though a ride longer than two hours in the scorching sun would be needed to confirm this. The fabric is thankfully not too revealing and despite its dark colour, I continued to feel cool considering the temperature.
It was while racing up Croce d’Aune in the cold that Tulio Campagnolo got the idea to create the quick release because his hands were too frigid to allow him to easily flip his single speed wheel. In the heat of July, I was happy Sportful conceived of this lightweight kit to regulate my body temperature on an easy spin in the mountains. The colder weather of other seasons has also given inspiration to other of Sportful’s offerings like the Hotpack packable gilets and jackets and the weather resistant Fiandre.
The apparel has been pro-tested with Sportful riders on Trek-Segrafedo and Bahrain-Merida