With a history steeped in textile spinning, Sportful was founded in Italy in 1942 as an undergarments manufacturer, before developing its first cycling specific garments in 1985. Come 2002, Cipollini rode to become World Champion, one of the Italian cycling team members to be wearing Sportful kit in the professional peloton for the first time. It’s fair to say, the 60 years of working with professional athletes and distributors is testament to the quality of their products. And this year’s range looks to set the benchmark even higher.
I’ve heard raving reviews about Sportful from various different cyclists and when looking for new kit for the coming season their designs seemed to stand off the page with some pretty impressive supporting statements. With distinctive white, black and orange bursts of colour, I was excited by the idea that I may finally stand out on the Sunday club run. Plus, with a statement as bold as Developed by Women, for Women, I can’t possibly go wrong.
4mm layer of Poron – does my bum look big in this?
The first thing I noticed on unpacking the BodyFit Pro kit, was the attention to detail. Developed by Italian garments designer Linda Bellio, this year’s kit really is designed by a woman for women. Breaking the pieces down, Linda and Sportful have looked at every element and individual panel in a bid to make the ‘best performing kit’ for women on the market. Forget the ‘pink and shrink’ strategy, with insight from their sponsored Women’s team, ASD Top Girls, Sportful really have developed a kit to suit our womenly bodies.
The BodyFit Pro technology uses the same ergonomic lightweight materials as ridden by the Tinkoff Saxo team. The bibs have straps like no others I’ve seen before. With a flat no-seam design and elasticated flex, they mold perfectly to the body whether you’re on the bike or stopped for a coffee. Plus, a bonus to the flat-flex design means they fit perfectly around the bust for seamless aerodynamics (I could probably do with loosing the bust if we’re to really talk aero!)
The same BodyFit Pro technology is again bought into the leg with AeroFlow, to provide a tight compression fitting that supports the muscles.
Moving further down the body to an area I have the majority of my problems with when buying comfortable kit, I notice quite a thick padding on the sit bone area of the chamois (con), but a highly flexible middle section (pro). Although they felt rather tight, these proved extremely comfortable. According to Sportful, the Infinity Seat Pad features progressive damping with softer foam on the top surface, medium foam in the middle, and in the most important sitting area, a special 4mm layer of Poron that gives shock absorption and is lightweight, breathable, and avoids heat build-up. I didn’t feel as sweaty as I normally would at the end of a ride, but only warmer weather and a longer session will prove this.
AirMesh one piece shoulders with raw cut sleeves
Both the bibs and the jersey feature seamless, non-grip, raw-cut edge sleeves and legs. Every cyclist has a preference, but with a slightly bulkier thigh, there’s no chance of the horrible ‘sausage’ effect or irritation, yet enough natural grip in the fabric to stay in place for those crisp tan lines. Lovely!
Both the jersey and bibs have clearly been designed for the warmer weather, featuring a breathable AirMesh in the single-piece shoulders and underarm of the jersey and the sleeves of the bibs for maximum airflow . This not only helps keep the body temperature down, but also makes for an extremely soft feel on the skin, yet with holes small enough to not appear see-through (and hopefully protect from a”Froome-tan“).
The only silicone grippers you’ll find on the kit is on the base of jersey, helping keep three full back pockets in check whilst on the bike.
All over, this kit is comfortable, looks and feels great on, and it performs. Definitely not cheap, every bit of kit is designed for perfection and well worth the investment.
Cycling Shorts gives the Sportful BodyFit Pro range a Star Buy rating of 95%