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We look to Sportful when we want body hugging, aero race kit, the kind of stuff Peter Sagan and his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates wear. When it comes to dressing for gravel, a style of riding currently pioneered in the good ‘ole US of A, we don’t expect the Europeans to be on the cutting edge. Even when it comes to gravel ‘racing’, our day typically involves a few minutes sprawled on the grass under a tree at an aid station and an hour or two on a bar stool after. We don’t need aero lycra for those days, and surprisingly the Italian race masters at Sportful have nailed what we need – Sportful Giara – and done it at a very attractive price that puts quality and simplicity above gimmicky fabric and unnecessary technical tweaks.
The Giara kit is what Sportful calls ‘performance gravel’, but it represents a kit that feels less overtly technical and fits with slightly more forgiveness than a typical Sportful kit for physiques influenced by the post ride beer. It consists of the usual pieces; jerseys, bibs, jackets, vests, gloves and socks, but adds an over short to the line up. We’ve been riding the Giara jersey, Giara bibshorts and Giara over short on our southern California trails for a couple of weeks now.
With a heathered, 100% polyester upper body that looks and feels more like a natural fabric than a lot of technical jerseys, it’s not the most light weight jersey in the world, yet breathes admirably well. The lower feels more technical with a polyester and elastin mixture, while the jersey is finished with elements that reinforce a classic, rather than technical feel – hemmed sleeves, no laser cut edges, three generous pockets and a zippered security pocket. The Giara features much less stretch in the upper torso and over the shoulders than the lower, with its added elastin, which lets you really load the pockets, but keeps the contents stable in the rough stuff. The very elastic pockets can make it a bit tough to load them or access the contents, but wiggle your hand to the bottom and they expand to hold a lot of gear. It’s a refreshingly simple jersey, comfortable noodling up a long climb, dropping the hammer over gravel rollers or chilling at the post ride bash, plus its simplicity keeps it relatively inexpensive: $100.
The Giara bibs are even more dedicated to the idea of simplicity than the jersey. A very stretchy fabric with 38% elastin allows Sportful to use just two main panels for the shorts, which gives them a clean and classic look with incredible comfort and very secure feeling with no bunching or gapping. Again no laser cutting or fancy leg bands here, just an internal elastic grip with a traditional hem. Subtle reflective highlights and a simple blue stripe match them to the Giara jersey’s aesthetic. The straps are a simple mesh, and in terms of fit, are certainly influenced by Sportful’s aggressive and racey apparel. With Sportful’s BodyFit chamois the bibs are designed for long, comfortable hours in the saddle, yet don’t feel like a thick diaper. The Giara bibs have become an absolute favorite here, and happily the subtle design means they match well with a lot of different jerseys. At just $120, they are the best value in the Giara line.
Giara Over Short
We rarely ride in baggies, but we can’t say we don’t feel a bit more comfortable at the after party in a set of baggies than we do in tights. All is vanity. The Giara Over Short cut a much slimmer profile than your typical MTB inspired baggy. In fact, they are only baggy when compared to the bibs. This also helps them move with your body, so the the crotch doesn’t catch on your saddle when you go to sit down and they don’t slide down your rear end either. Velcro adjusters hidden inside the waist help dial in the fit and the four way stretch fabric adds to the stay put comfort. With DWR fabric treatment they stay clean and dry, plus if you do go down, they are pretty darn tough, saving your pricey bibs from the dirt. Like we said, we don’t wear baggies very often, but when we do, they are the Sportful Giara Over Shorts and at just $80 they are cheap insurance for your bibs, plus the simple design means they look good as a spare set of shorts, with two traditional pockets and two zippered pockets adding to the versatility.
Fit Notes: While the jersey allows for a bit more of the ‘gravel’ physique, it’s still Italian and it’s still pretty race inspired. If you wear medium US or Sportiv style jerseys, you are still a large in Sportful’s Giara kit. You’ll just find it all a bit more comfortable during the IPA or hefeweizen portion of your day out.
Giara Jersey: $100
Giara Bibs: $120
Giara Over Short: $80
Giara Vest: $90
Giara Jacket: $120
Giara Cap: $20
Giara 15 Sock: $18
For more on Giara and all Sportful kit, head to sportful.com