Adventure appears to be the buzzword for road cycling in 2016, and Sportful has a few new pieces designed for big rides and foul-weather conditions. Here we look at two pieces in the R&D concept line — where an integrated baselayer replaces shoulder straps on a bib short — and the new Fiandre wet-weather gear.
R&D bib short and jersey
As its name implies, the R&D line explores new concepts, and for the coming season, big adventure rides are a focus. The R&D Jersey features slight wind protection on the chest, mesh on the sides and high-capacity pockets — all aimed at big days on the bike.
The $179 / £120 jersey has a snap about three quarters up the zipper. The idea is that upon cresting a hill after a long slog, you might want to quickly cover your sweaty chest before the descent, but don't have time or the agility to zip up the jersey. Here, you've got some wind-protection in a snap.
The most interesting piece though is the R&D UltraSkin Short $249 / £120, which ditches the traditional shoulder straps for an integrated baselayer, which zips up like a skinsuit. That's not the only zipper on the short, either: a small one is placed on the shorts as you'd find on a pair of jeans for nature breaks. The thinking here is that a baselayer is a necessity for long days, and that a baselayer alone is more comfortable than a baselayer with bib straps over the top of it.
Fiandre foul-weather clothing
The Fiandre line has a few new pieces for this winter, with technologies like 'NoRain' nano-silicone fabric impregnation and PolarTec's breathable NeoShell waterproof material. The most eye-catching thing however is something simpler — a tail flap on bib shorts and tights designed to keep water rolling off a rider's backside like water off a duck.
"What we have seen in water-resistant materials is that running water across something is no problem, but water that sits on fabric and gets ground in and eventually gets through," said Sportful's brand communication manager Daniel Loots.
Thus, the $129 / £85 Fiandre Light NoRain Bibshort and the $179 / £125 Fiandre NoRain Bibtight feature a fabric flap that, like the rest of the short and tight, is treated with the NoRain silicone treatment. Sportful and Castelli are sister companies, but NoRain is not the same as Castelli's NanoFlex, Loots said. "NoRain is part of the fabric, not a spray-on treatment," he said.
Both NoRain pieces are fleece-lined for warmth.
Sportful will also have a NoRain Light short sleeve jersey (shown below) of similar construction for $129 / £85.
The Fiandre Extreme NeoShell uses PolarTec NeoShell, which is waterproof and breathable, including at the zipper. The seams are taped externally. An interesting piece is the $299 / £240 Fiandre Extreme NeoShell SS, a short-sleeve version of the jacket that comes with PolarTec NeoShell arm warmers.