The Optimist's Kit by Sportful

Many rides in San Francisco, even in the summer, start out grey and misty. The temptation to stay in bed, or to roll out the door in a jacket, tights and winter mitts is understandable. But San Francisco favors the optimists, those who have faith that it can only get better.

In a world that turns from grey to sunny, and from damp and foggy to warm, it is key to find the perfect combination of clothes that will keep you warm and dry in the fog but won’t fill up and weigh down your pockets as soon as the sun shines its triumphant rays upon the world.  There’s no need to look any further than Sportful, who makes the perfect kit for the optimist.

Optimism at its finest. Photo by Bryan Markwardt

The foundation is the BodyFit Pro bib shorts and jersey. From the onset, Sportful’s multi-generational heritage in Italy is obvious, the clothes feel tailored, branding is minimal and colors and designs are subtle and tasteful. The slender neon band on the sleeves of the jersey feels natural, unlike the abhorrence of a fully neon jersey. The minimal horizontal stripes show the design is attuned to the human form, it is elegant and simple, unlike the all-too-standard chaotic and obtrusive design.

Fundamentally, it’s more than a pretty package. Integrated into those well-chosen colors is a perfect ensemble of great fit, lightweight, comfortable and aerodynamic fabric. There is no flapping, despite the easy ventilation. Even the sleeves don’t ride up on your arms, ensuring comfort and razor sharp tan lines.  Even better is the bib shorts. After wearing a dozen brands, without hesitation I know that the BodyFit pro bib shorts are the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. Wide straps don’t stretch and are ventilated, the chamois feels indestructible and the leg bands hold tight without squeezing or imprinting any silly marks. My first ride in the kit was 9 hours, usually a serious no-no in uncharted waters, but my butt may have felt better at the end.  Its pretty joyous riding in total comfort and being complimented every step of the way.

But it’s the accessories that transcend Sportful kit from any old awesome cycling kit, to the perfect optimist’s kit. Many a great epiphany is realized on the bike. Usually deep, and related to the powers of nature and friendship, sometimes they are as simple as: this kit is perfect.  Mine, a forty five mile per hour descent, through the fifty degree fog, wearing but a standard, vest and arm warmers. The realization – I’m not cold!

Sure, vests provide warmth, that’s old news. But the Hot Pack vest weighs only 39g and bundles up to the size of my cell phone. Its genius to have a garment provide all the heat it needs but get completely out of my way when I don’t need it. The arm warmers complete the ensemble - made with No-Rain fabric, they don’t get wet.

Hot Pack - so light, so effective

There are days however, where there is no place for optimism. Cold, damp days that may make you question every leaving your house. But you won't question your decision, because for those days there is Fiandre. The Fiandre line looks as good, just like everything else, but perfectly utilizes No-Rain and Windstopper to keep the elements out and the fun in. The jacket fits so well I don't even want to take it off. No flapping, no overheating, no ugliness, but no cold or wetness either. What more to ask on a grey day just begging for miles?

Fiandre at large

Alternatively, there's those perfect days where optimism isn't even neccessary. The combination of sun, coffee and excitement equate to speed and the R&D jersey is perfect. Aerodynamic and form fitting, this jersey has a need for speed. Get going and you slip through the wind. What it doesn't have is a need for style, its got plenty of that already with exquisite  color-fades and ideal sleeve length (3/4 down the bicep). Even better, the aero fabric is silky smooth, the way it hugs the torso is like a gentle embrace, encouraging every turn of the pedals.

So. Much. Speed

Imagine a good long day of riding. You wake up early – maybe even before the sun. During your morning coffee you see the mercury is low. As you stuff your pockets with food and flat kit for the day ahead, you think, how will I stay warm until the sun comes out? No worry – you wear the optimist kit, conceived by Sportful in Italy, ideal anywhere.


Most of the photos courtesy of Bryan Markwardt. Check out his excellent work..