The weather may be jumping back and forth between rain and clear skies at our EU HQ, but hot days are a thing of the past for a while here, so even though Sportful recently showed us some pretty trick light and aero road racing kit, it was the packable foul weather Stelvio jacket that really stood out in our minds. Recently we’ve seen a lot of progress made to light, packable rain jacket offerings, and Sportful seems to be the latest to throw a new contender in the ring. It’s starting to look like light, pocket-sized, fully-waterproof, and breathable are all possible in one jacket these days. Plus, looking to the return of warm riding in 2017, Sportful has some new super cool jerseys and bibs, as long as you aren’t too modest…
The new Stelvio was developed with Sportful-sponsored Tinkoff and was designed and tested to get pro riders through the worst of the weather that the Spring Classics and early season Monuments could dish out. It looks like gone are the days of unbreathable plastic rain capes flapping in the wind of the peloton.
This new jacket is the latest to combine race-level effort breathability, a cut that fits close to the body and doesn’t flap around, and is actually stretchy enough that it isn’t a struggle to get on and off. While it packs down, just a bit bigger than a small bidon, the big innovation in this new crop of performance rain jackets is that riders don’t have to constantly take them on and off to stay comfortable.
The Stelvio is made of a fabric called RainWick Stretch, that while light and waterproof, also has enough give in it that it can be pulled over a pair of gloves and still fit snugly along the arms and shoulders. At the heart of the multi-layer fabric is the stretchy waterproof membrane (20,000mm) to keep you dry, then covered by a durable polyamide outer layer with a DWR finish that sheds water before it has a chance to get into the fabric. Inside the jacket gets fully taped seams and a light mesh finish that makes it wick moisture away from exposed skin without feeling like it sticks to you, all the while delivering good breathability (50,000 g/m2/24hrs).
The jacket gets a long cut rear to keep road spray off your butt and an elastic waist and silicone gripper to keep it in place. Up front a full-length water-resistant YKK Vislon zipper with an internal storm flap keeps the rain out. At the sleeve cuffs there are two elastic bands to hold the jacket in place, while making it easy to get on over gloves.
They Stelvio will come in Anthracite gray and fluorescent yellow, both with small reflective accents. The uninsulated jackets will be ready to buy at the start of 2017 to be ready for a wet spring season of racing.
On the warm weather side, Sportful’s R&D gear their latest & greatest range of road kit. This year’s new line-up is focused on some super light, super thin mesh riding kit designed for the hottest days of riding.
The new R&D Cima jersey is an entirely new style of ultra light climbing jersey. It uses a stretch woven fabric that delivers light weight and breathability, but also a respectable amount of coverage compared to many other mesh jerseys. That seems to work by having two different scales of mesh in the weave. The first, bigger hexagonal shapes create a waffled texture that pulls the fabric away from the body a bit for better breathability, and then the second thinner, but more dense mesh filling in those honeycombs gives coverage and surface area to wick moisture away.
The jersey also uses a pretty drastic cut to eliminate a lot of seams. With a lot of stretch to the HexaLight Stretch fabric, the entire chest arms and sleeves are essentially one panel, with seams that only partially wrap around what would normally be a different panel. (I’d hate to be the one who had to figure out the sublimation of this jersey for the pro team kit!) With fewer seams it is said to fit really smoothly against the skin and almost feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all.
The low-profile collar, thin form-fitting cut, plus the texture of the super light jersey is also said to make it quite aero dynamic, in addition to super breathable and fast drying. It does get some panels on the back for 3 standard rear pockets, and even some reflective details.
The R&D Cima bib shorts are perhaps for the more adventurous (or more comfortable with their body), as they are not shy in the application of mesh. Sportful does claim them to be the ultimate shorts for true hot weather racing, and to be fair the mesh is only used where it doesn’t reveal too much.
Designed for climbers and hot weather with Tinkoff again the R&D Cima bibs combine a fairly standard light but supportive lycra crotch and seat area with a pro-level chamois and a breathable bib strap setup. Where they go a bit wild is in the leg panels which are a very open, transparent stretch aero AirMesh, and the mesh upper butt panel. To keep a reasonable level of modesty (and minimal amount of crack) that rear panel actually gets two layers of contrast color mesh – the outer black over the yellow or red inner mesh. Together the two still offer great ventilation and breathability, without becoming transparent, even when stretched.
Altogether with flatlock stitching placed for the optimized aerodynamics, raw cut legs, and as many mesh and perforations, the bibs should be fast in the wind and hard to beat for riding in the hottest weather.
There is also a minimalist, light pair of R&D Cima fingerless gloves with bonded construction, and some very open mesh socks to finish out the kit in matching colors, like the rest of the Cima line all made for warm >20°C weather.
All of the R&D Cima kit is also part of the 2017 model year kit, and should be available early next spring to get ready for the return of hot weather riding and racing.