Sportful isn’t one of the most high profile cycle clothing brands to be found in the typical well-stocked bike shop, but the Italian company boasts a long and proud history of serving the professionals with race-ready kit.
They’re currently the choice of Saxo Bank, and that close tie to the pro ranks shows in the Fiandre No-Rain Light jacket and No-Rain bibtights I’ve been testing over the winter.
Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Light jacket £135
It’s called a jacket but pulling the Fiandre No-Rain Light on reveals a garment light in build resembling more of a long sleeve jersey than a jacket built to keep the rain out. Sportful use a combination of lightweight fabrics to keep the weight of the jacket down while ensuring a good barrier against the wind and rain.
A lighter Windstopper 4 Way Light fabric is put just where it’s needed most, on the chest and the upper sleeves (easily identified by the white areas in the photo alongside these words), while an insulating material is used around the back. It’s been treated with Sportful’s proprietary nanotechnology fabric, No – Rain, and is completely waterproof while still offering decent levels of breathability.
The company’s racing heritage shines through in the cut; the medium samples are very definitely ‘race fit’. There’s generous stretch in the Gore fabric, however, so despite the closeness of the jacket, it doesn’t feel restrictive at all, with a spacious feel around the shoulders and arms. The arms taper in quite dramatically to the slim cuffs.
I like the little flaps that conceal the tops of the three rear pockets, preventing water from running down your back and soaking the contents. The hem is lined with silicone grippers to keep the jacket from riding up and there’s a couple of large reflective tabs too.
It’s intended for use in temperatures down to 5 degreesC and when paired with a long sleeve baselayer offers performance I can vouch for. For the typical mild British winter, this is a fantastic garment due to its low bulk and lack of weight, while still offering an effecttive barrier to the elements.
Sportful No-Rain bibtights £90
For the No-Rain bibtights Sportful make excellent use of their own proprietary fabric, which is treated with a water repellent technology. A pair of tights that fits superbly well and keeps the rain out, they are a great choice for the dampness of the British winter.
The fabric offers waterproofing all over with excellent breathability, meaning you don’t get unduly hot legs when training hard. Materials treated with a waterproof agent can sometimes lack flexibility and feel a little stiff, but the tights are soft and comfortable next to the skin thanks to the fleecy lining and they’re as comfortable as regular tights.
The BodyFit Pro chamois is a slim affair utilising variable thickness padding to place more padding only where it’s needed. Its seamless design means there’s no cause for irritation, and it conforms well to the body. Regular long rides of up to five hours resulted in no complaints in the comfort department.
Fit, like the jacket, is top notch, with a simple design that eliminates the multitude of seams and panels that some designers seem to opt for when trying to achieve the perfect fit.
While they do excel in the rain, with water visibly beading off the treated fabric resulting in noticeable dryness during wet rides compared to other tights, don’t let the fact they’re designed for wet weather put you off. I’ve been using them more than happily in dry and mild conditions without any adverse overheating detected.
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing, goes an old saying that has done the rounds a fair amount. With these two Sportful garments however, the saying really does apply; warmth, dryness and comfort are impressed upon the wearer from the first moment you ride. Good enough for the pros, they are good enough for you and me.