Riding the streets of Montreal arguably requires a gravel bike in the spring when the potholes are at their worst. While you’d venture further than the island for an all-day bike riding adventure, on my first ride in the new Sportful Super Giara apparel the roads of Montreal and the Chemin Olmsted on Mont-Royal would do just fine.
The demands of the burgeoning all-road sector lead Italian apparel manufacturer Sportful to launch the Giara gravel specific line a couple of years ago. Sportful filled out their line-up with a higher-performance line earlier this year called Super Giara borrowing some of the elements from the kit worn by the professionals in the WorldTour. A-top a 3T Exploro with 650b wheels, I had the chance to test the kit on a cool spring afternoon.
While some gravel specific riding apparel leans towards comfort and practicality over performance features, the Giara Super aims to balance both. If you’re aiming to be at the pointy end of a mixed surface event like Paris to Ancaster or a long ride, hard ride like Dirty Kanza, it makes sense to have some sleek apparel refined for going fast.
Performance bibs for the rigors of all-terrain riding. MV Canada—Photograph: Alex Godbout-Simard
The 3T Exploro with 650b wheels. Photo: Alex Godbout-Simard/MV Canada
There's some gravel riding opportunities in Montreal. MV Canada—Photograph: Alex Godbout-Simard
The 3T Exploro has 650b wheels and could have handled more than we threw at them. MV Canada—Photograph: Alex Godbout-Simard
The Giara Super jersey has the laser-cut cuffs of the top tier race apparel making it superbly well ventilated while the seams around the shoulders and back are all designed to keep the material from loosing flapping around in the wind when tucked aggressively over a bike.
The jersey has three traditional pockets in the rear but the central one is larger so you can pack extra snacks or gear. The zipper pocket is always appreciated to secure valuables in a place you know they won’t escape on bumpy terrain or if you take a little spill.
The Giara Super bibs have a very useful side net pocket that’s handy if you want to stop an easy to reach snack plus two additional pockets on the rear. Again, extra storage and easily accessible pockets won’t be useful on every ride but these are the sorts of details that on a longer ride would be great to take advantage of.
The fit is quite racy with the shorts running a little smaller than what I am used to. They are performance-oriented so feature a very ergonomic fit with more compression that mid-tier bib shorts. The material is made to be tough and durable to reduce the worry of riding in conditions where they might get caught on a branch or scuff in a little tumble.
The chamois uses dual-density foam for extra padding on bumpy surfaces. Reflective bands on the tights don’t only break up the uniform black look but also provide extra visibility if your adventures run into the night.
The Giara line also includes socks and a cap. Both fit well and compliment the overall look of the adventure outfit. The Giara 18 socks use a silicone band on the cuff. The idea is that if you step into a stream or deep mud, your socks won’t fill up with gunk you definitely don’t want on your feet. The solution is unique with a little more compression than I would have liked on the cuff of a sock.
In addition to the Garia apparel, I made the descent of Mont-Royal in the super light and compact Hot Pack Easy Light Jacket. The jacket lives up to its name, very easily packing up into a tight pack. The jacket kept me warm on the cool day keeping the wind off. I packed it back into my pocket in no time and didn’t notice it once I felt I didn’t need it any longer.
The ride started and ended at Castelli and Sportful’s new showroom in Montreal. The space on Waverly also includes a spot to get your caffeine fix with the help of Café Larue.