Sportful Giara Collection: Quick Review

Sportful Giara Collection: Gravel Based, Italian Styled- Quick Review by Grannygear

We had a chance to get some rides in the latest line of clothing from the Italian maker, Sportful. I first saw that brand in shops while taking a cycling vacation in Tuscany and I recognized the quality and style typical of Italian cycling clothing. I came home with a couple of Sportful jerseys that are still among the favorites in my collection.

So when Sportful debuted Giara, a line of clothing with a more relaxed fit and less than full road race intentions, I was interested. What we were sent was a Giara Bibshort, Overshort, and Jersey. In the current climate of gravel bike craziness, we must consider the need for gravel bike clothing, which at first does sound a bit silly. I wondered if Giara was just a European stab at cashing in on the American craze (not that Italy does not do gravel…Strada Bianca, etc). But I think there is merit for both of these things: Gravel clothing and Giara’s approach to it.

I typically wear roadie clothing on gravel bike rides: Lycra, 3-pocket jerseys, etc. But sometimes I wish I had something a bit ‘less’ than that…less snug fitting and less ‘Joe Roadie’ looking. My MTB baggies may be too far in that direction, but I do have a set of shorts from Club Ride that are just about right. They are a closer fit then a typical MTB short, give me a pocket or two, and do not get in the way when riding. So I think for gravel bike and adventure riding, something in the middle of MTB and Road is worth looking into. And that is where I see Giara as living….that middle ground, yet with Italian influence. How did that work out? Read on.

Giara Jersey:

Concept:
Designed for riders who want an elegant style while they are enjoying their ride. With toned-down styling that doesn’t scream “”bike racer,”” it’s at home on epic all-day rides but also doesn’t look out of place as you pedal out of the city. Casual performance cut and subtle styling that adapt to asphalt, gravel or coffee stops.

  • Features:
    Upper body in heathered polyester fabric gives great coverage with a sophisticated style
    Color highlights are also reflective for stylish safety
    3 rear pockets with 1 additional zipped pocket for convenience and security

Full zip with three pockets plus a zipped pocket, the size LG jersey was a snug fit on me, but not quite roadie form fitting. It was more like a close fitting T-shirt, but the fabric was great to the touch, soft and very comfy to wear. That fabric, in my opinion, is what allows the Giara jersey to be snuggish but not feel restrictive. I wore it in warmish temps and it did well both with and without a layer underneath it. I especially love a jersey with a zipped ‘securities’ pocket. Nice for car keys, or a small wallet, ID, etc. The look is subtle, yet classy. Overall, I can’t think of anything I did not like about it and I think they hit it pretty much spot on. However, if you are looking for an even more relaxed fit, size up.

Giara Bib Short:

Concept:
Built with the same DNA as our race shorts but with a refined style that works well even when you are just “”riding your bike.”” High-stretch fabric allows us to eliminate many seams to offer extra comfort and a stealth look.

  • Features:
    Lightweight mesh bibs
    High elastane content for great stretch and support
    Internal leg elastic grip
    BodyFit Pro pad
    Reflective highlights

I love a great bib short and these seem to be just that, great. There is a color matched (to the jersey) portion on the leg (three colors are available plus plain black) that is subtle, yet ties in well as a complete look. The chamois looks well made and the styling and cut is very good….almost. I can typically wear either a Medium or Large bib short, depending on the fit. Med will be tighter, but OK, and LG will usually be longer in the leg so it can go either way. These were LG and the fit on my slim but solid 6’2” frame was great at and even below the waist. However the shoulder straps were so short that I worried about tearing them when slipping into the bibs. It was just too much tension, far too much to ride with, even when bent over the bars. So I passed these on (and the whole kit actually) to a friend who is about my waist size, but a couple of inches shorter. Voila…perfect fit and he has been very happy with the performance of the short. Keep this sizing in mind if you are tall-ish.

Giara Overshort:

Concept:
Clean styling in a technical overshort that offers versatile simplicity. Four-way stretch construction, low-profile pockets and a rear stretch-mesh insert make this a great choice whatever your bike. DWR fabric treatment helps repel dust and dirt from gravel riding, lightweight mesh inserts and internal fabric structure help with moisture management on faster rides, and style details also work when you step off the bike.

  • Features:
    Fitted cut with 4-way stretch
    2 front zip pockets and 2 jean-style pockets offer secure and convenient access
    Fully functional fly
    Belt loops can be dressed up off the bike
    Subtle reflective details

These were my favorite item of the bunch. I wore them for the first time on a 6 hour mini epic with 70 miles and 8k’ of climbing. They were just immediately comfortable and stayed that way for the entire review period. They have a slight stretch to them and Sportful really seemed to nail the cut so the LG size fit my size 32 waist just right. There is a velcro’d inner waistband that allows for some adjustability. I also never had an issue with the shorts creeping down and hanging up on the saddle or getting baggy in the crotch. A bit of pockets, one zipped, gives you some nice function for carrying goods or walking around town apres ride.

They are also color matched, if you so desire, to the jersey and even the bibs, which could be worn under the over short. I never did that, choosing to wear a typical baggy short liner under them.

The cut is close enough to not flap around in the wind yet you never feel like “Captain Skin Suit” in them either. They make a pretty strong argument for gravel/adventure clothing and I would wear these a fair bit.

So, Italian style with the matching colors and accents, lovely fabric, and, with the exception of the shoulder straps on the bibs, a great fit, but you best be a trimmer person or size up to cover the “MAMIL”* zone.

I passed the Giara items on to a gravel bike riding friend who not only loves color matched clothing, but enjoys quality. Last I heard he is happy and looking sharp in the kit. 

Sportful

Grannygear’s friend, Tony, in the Sportful Giara kit

*MAMIL = “Middle  Aged Man In Lycra”

NOTE-We were sent the Sportful Giara Collection for test and review at no charge. We were not bribed nor pais for tis review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.


ResoluteAbout The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.


 

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by Riding Gravel 2014