Reviewed: Giordana Sport Bib Shorts, Jersey, & Cap
Low-tech/high-tech. There must be a name for this growing category of cycling clothing. Clothing that uses the latest materials, cuts, and joinery, but consciously tries to evoke earlier eras. This is the place we see the Giordana Sport cycling clothing slotting. The name comes from the tags that the company sewed onto the inside hem of the jersey when the company started, a common placement in those days. Back in 1979, the jersey fabric of choice was wool. They made spandex shorts, and were quickly moving to work with the then-new polyester and elastic fabrics as well as classic wool. Nowadays, Giordana is committed to moving forward, even with the classically-styled Sport line.
There is no wool here, even though the tags have returned to the hem of the jersey and the inside of the cap. The materials are about as high-tech as you can get. The shorts are basically the equal of the FormaRed shorts, with the same compressive HC-44 spandex for the leg panels and Ametista for the cuffs and bib. The jersey uses a new ultra-light fabric that they call VX2, which, for all it’s supposed to do, feels cottony soft. The hat works the classic details by combining cotton twill with tricolor ribbon and riveted holes. The only high-tech touch is the wicking synthetic liner around the inside edge.
We rode with a friend whose professional expertise is in branding. He took one and noted the similarities to Rapha. He’s onto something. Giordana isn’t saying it directly, but both their descriptions of the gear and the aesthetics evoke the British company. This isn’t leveled as a criticism; the folks who come along second often have a better chance at doing well because they see what the innovator did right and wrong. Not everyone who wants retro styling wants to wear a wool jersey. And the Giordana shorts, despite the classic-seeming touch of the horizontal band around the legs and the flocked lettering, are pretty clearly working the high-tech, just in an understated way. Maybe the stuff should be called Gran Fondo or Century clothing, as it’s built for all-day riding comfort, whether you’re doing an official one or an informal all-day event with friends.
Last year, we tried out Giordana’s Laser Bib Shorts. We liked the compressive fit and the new Cirro OmniForm chamois, though the sizing didn’t work with our body and we opted for Small rather than our usual Medium. Now that we’ve had the Sport bibs, in Medium, for many a long ride, we might have to revise. These bottoms are a bit less compressive than the Lasers and much more comfortable. The doubled-over Ametista cuffs make tugging the shorts on a little more work, and it’s obvious when looking at our legs that they’re being squeezed by the bands, but they stay in place without the extra digging of grippers and hold both our knee- and leg-warmers just fine. The Ametista bib is similarly comfortable. It stretches more than the Aerofix ‘sandwich’ bib on the Laser, and less than a typical mesh bib. The in-the-middle fit is one thing we really like about these bibs.
The chamois, which Giordana Sport shares with Laser, is great. Pads that stretch and have multiple densities are old hat, and even those that have sewn sections of extra padding and cutouts with no padding seem common. It’s all good. What surprises us is that the latest generation dimpled-cover fabric pads have proven to be more comfortable than the smooth fabric. We don’t know if it wicks moisture better, grips our bottom better, or if it’s something else, but these dimpled tops work incredibly well.
As the weather has been mixed of late, we’ve logged more time in the bibs then the jersey, but we’ve had several rides in the top as well. The look is decidedly understated, with classic, set-in sleeves rather than the more modern raglan. It also follows the old, boxy aesthetic of three panels in front, three in back and side panels as well. In the days of wool jerseys, this is where you had design flexibility; one color for the shoulders, a white panel for the chest where your team name was embroidered or flocked, and one for the stomach.
The jersey cut i isn’t as close as other Giordana jerseys we’ve ridden in recently. The classic style is definitely looser than a skinsuit fit. We’ve gotten so used to sleek jerseys that this felt almost baggy to us. What, there’s some flapping when we’re in the drops? We went with a Small jersey, which is our usual size with Giordana tops, though if we could have sized down, we would have. The fabric seems to have plenty of stretch to it, which overall means lots of comfort. The one drawback is that overloaded pockets bounce more than we like when sprinting.
But as noted above, the jersey is designed for warm to hot weather. We seem to be in the minority of people who don’t prefer a looser fit in hot weather. In terms of its fitness as a warm-weather jersey, our impression is that the material works as advertised. In a typical jersey, we prefer to ride without a base layer when the thermometer reaches 65 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temp, we still needed a base layer with the Sport jersey. Once it got into the low 70′s and we were riding hard, we were ready to ditch the insulation. We also did several roller rides with no cooling fan and the jersey. Plenty of sweat to be had, but the jersey felt airy and comfortable the whole time.
Rollers is also where we did most of our testing of the Sport cap. Our daily helmet fits too close for a hat to be comfortable underneath. It’s for this reason we have a winter helmet, but even with the larger lid, the brim of the cap runs too low for us to feel comfortable with the cap underneath. Rollers are the place where we love cycling caps these days. Cotton twill is great for absorbing sweat and holding it, which is nice for cooling down. The synthetic “head band” that lines the cap’s edge is very thin and covers what is usually a rough cotton fabric. On most caps, this fabric is uncomfortable against the skin and breaks down from sweat fairly quickly. We haven’t had the cap long enough to see how it endures a winter of trainer sessions, but from the several we’ve done, the synthetic band is doing great.
Giordana’s Sport line does as advertised. It takes their technical know-how and mates it with classic style. The result is long-distance comfort that works the high-tech for a low-tech aesthetic.