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Sportful Giara jersey and bibshorts review

28 Apr 2017

Stylish, sensibly priced and very well executed kit from Sportful. Buy if you like to keep it relaxed and classy

‘Giara’ in Italian seems to mean a lot of things. Literally, it means jar, it’s also the name of a diminutive breed of horse and also ‘giara’ describes a plateau.

I’m going to take a punt on Sportful using the last definition, as these Giara garms are billed as kit for ‘two-wheeled adventures’, and there is a matching pair of baggy shorts in the Sportful range designed to complement the bibshorts should you so wish. So is this really gravel riding kit? Well it can be. It can also be some rather fine road kit too, and here’s why.

Sitting on a fortune

At some point cycling kit packed up it bags and said it was heading to the big city to make its fortune. Within a few years its net worth had increased, but sadly it had lost some of its garish, flamboyant soul. But like the prodigal son, it returned a few years ago and in the Giara it’s managed to fine a very tasteful home indeed.

Which is a good place to start, because, to my mind there are three reasons to buy one cycle kit and not another. Fit, form and function. Make that four. Value. 

I’m going to start with the most subjective, form. To my B-in- art-GSCE eye, this kit looks the business. The colours are subtle yet also pop in way that isn’t too in your face but neither too dull, and the different textures of fabric (the uppermost torso part is known as ‘heathered polyester’ apparently) bring another aesthetic to the kit in the flesh.

The cut isn’t overtly racy, in that the material of both jersey and bibs is high-stretch without feeling tight. I found the result very comfortable indeed, the Giara tops and bottoms fitting like a snug sock more than a spandex ankle brace.

Aero this kit is not, but neither is it paunchy as some more relaxed cuts can feel. Plus, being black around the middle it is flattering despite being relatively figure hugging.

This brings us on to function, which is where the Giara really comes into its own. Style and fit will be subjective, but there’s no doubt this weight of material is perfect for all but the hottest UK days or the heaviest sweaters.

It’s breathable enough and while I probably wouldn’t want to wear it for a 200km sportive in Spain, for your common or garden early Sunday start in the British Spring/Summer, the Giara is an excellent choice, warm but wicking well, and given the fabric weight, not prone to getting overly sodden with sweat. That said, the jersey does retain moisture more than your average lightweight jersey, so too the bibs.

Given these last points, this is why the Giara is also suited to adventure/gravel style riding. The look and feel is more relaxed, and there’s a robustness to the kit that is often absent in scanty road kit.

Hard to fault (but I’ll try)

Rounding off the kit are Giara mitts (£30), which complete the look nicely.

However, in the face of kit that costs £75 apiece – in my mind incredibly good value, especially in a world wear bibshorts broke the £200 glass ceiling long ago – £30 for gloves when you don’t even get the fingers seems a lot. As does £17 for the Giara socks (those pictured are R&D Cima 8 socks at £15).

Other than that the only other criticisms I could level at this otherwise excellent ensemble is that the stripe on the bibshorts – printed rubberised stuff – doesn’t stretch as much as the fabric it’s printed on, meaning it slightly upsets the contours of the short, and undoubtedly will peel or crack after multiple washes and time (unless Sportful has created some magic printed formula).

The high-stretch, lowish elasticity of the Giara jersey also means laden pockets sag somewhat, but on the one hand this par for the course, on the other it means you can stuff more things in there for epic days out.

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