There’s still plenty of life left in winter and the latest cold weather test kit to arrive on the RoadCyclingUK desk is from Italian brand Sportful.
Let’s cast our eye over the technical specification of the No-Rain jacket and Total Comfort bib tights before heading out on the road to log some winter miles.
Sportful Fiandre No-Rain jacket (£170)
If the Sportful Fiandre No-Rain jacket looks familiar to regular readers to RoadCyclingUK, that’s because it is. We tested the No-Rain Light jacket back in December but this is the full deep winter version.
First, a recap. The No-Rain range, which covers two jackets, two bib tights and thermal bib shorts, uses Sportful’s proprietary No-Rain nanotechnology, which uses silicone particles in the fabric to repel water. It’s not fully waterproof but we were impressed by the level of protection offered by the No-Rain Light jacket in steady rain so we’re hoping for more of the same as far as its heavyweight sibling is concerned.
So what sets the two jackets apart to justify the £35 price difference? The No-Rain jacket on test here uses a combination of two Gore Windstopper fabrics to provide additional protection against cold temperatures. While the No-Rain Light jacket is only partially fleece-lined, this heavy duty version uses a heavier Windstopper 4-Way fabric lined with a winter weight fleece on the front, sleeves and lower back, while a lighter fleece-lined Windstopper 4-Way Light fabric is used on the rest of the jacket, all of which is treated with Sportful’s No-Rain nanotechnology.
We found the No-Rain Light jacket to be suitable down to temperatures of around five degrees, so this version is for truly cold weather, and there’s a noticeable difference in weight and bulk between the two.
The No-Rain jacket also has an extra long tail to provide extra coverage when not riding with mudguards, and the tail snaps away using three poppers when you don’t need it. The jacket features waterproof and reflective YKK zips, plus there’s reflective detail on the hem and cuffs. Interestingly, Sportful have opted for a single pocket which stretches across the back of the jacket. We’d prefer to see three separate pockets and will report as to how useable this setup is. Otherwise, the hi-viz fluro yellow of our test kit is bang on trend, but there’s also a black/white version available.
An initial test ride has revealed the fit of the No-Rain jacket to mirror that of the Light version. It’s cut much like a jersey, giving a close-fitting and racy fit, with heavily tapered sleeves, leaving little material to flap around in the wind. It doesn’t leave much room underneath for additional layers but we’d expect the jacket to be warm enough for British conditions with only a long sleeve base layer.
Sportful Total Comfort bib tights (£130)
The Sportful Total Comfort bib tight are, as the name hints, designed to offer maximum comfort on long distance winter rides. These aren’t from the No-Rain range (we tested the No-Rain bib tights in December) so don’t offer additional protection against wet weather.
Instead, the fleece-lined tights have been developed to offer additional protection against cold temperatures without the use of a Windstopper fabric, which can make some tights restrictive. Instead, Sportful have used a liner on the front and on the knees to provide extra warmth.
Breathability remains important, however, even on chilly winter rides, so the tights also use what’s called a Thermodrytex Double fabric, which has a hollow polyester inner layer which is said to insulate while actively wicking sweat away to the outer nylon layer.
The chamois is heavily cushioned and up to 18mm thick, which is another clue as to these tights’ intended use. Still, a thick pad doesn’t necessarily mean a comfortable pad, and sometimes the opposite, but Sportful say the multi-density construction, dimpled surface and anatomic design make it ideal for long days in the saddle. We’ll find out.
Otherwise, the wide straps are made from an open mesh, while the tights are held in place at the bottom by two ankle zips. There’s also reflective detail on the tights to improve low light visibility. Time to hit the road.
UK distributor: C3 Products