I don't know what it was about last winter but I seemed to make some very poor kit decisions and nearly always ended up coming back early due to freezing fingers or cold legs. This year I want to avoid this misery and was therefore keen to try out what Sportful had on offer for female road cyclists this winter.
I can't say I felt like a 'diva' in these bib tights and confused as to why they are named as such but I was very impressed with them on the whole. The key feature is the fact that the warm, fleecy lining doesn't stop at the hips but continues up the bib and covers your core and lower back. I think when you're cycling this lower back area can often be left exposed due to the nature of sitting forward and these bibs covered the lot.
I am not the tallest of women at 5ft 4 and sometimes have an issue with shoulder straps that are slightly too long for my torso - but these size small (they come in XS - XXL) bibs fit really well. That said, the shoulder straps could definitely fit those taller than me without feeling hemmed in. The seat padding seemed quite unobtrusive when walking around but also offered enough support and comfort when in the saddle.
In terms of warmth, these bib tights certainly delivered and on an October ride, they were a bit too warm. In my opinion, that only serves as good news come the cold winter! The fleecy lining is so comfortable and should keep the chill off your pins when the temperature drops.
The Fiandre jacket is designed to keep the wind out and also offers light protection from downpours. On this autumn ride I wore a jersey underneath and it was all I needed to keep a comfortable temperature. I also tested it with warmer layers and it could all fit underneath without limiting movement.
The cut of the jacket, I felt, was flattering in comparison to other wind jackets. It has lycra panels that wick away the sweat, making it more breathable too. I'm a girl that likes a good set of pockets to store all my snacks in and this jacket had all the room I needed with three sizeable back pockets for all your ride essentials.
The sleeves were slightly tapered with an elastic cuff so when I was riding with the gloves on, it meant that there was no gap for the cold weather to sneak in. Again, I think this will be really helpful come the winter.
The jacket is available in sizes XS to XXL and comes in blue as well as plum.
Last winter I had to turn around after two miles due to insufficient glove warmth and so I know first hand (no pun intended) the value of warm fingers on a ride. You use your hands so much in road cycling in terms of changing gears or braking and if you can't work them because they've frozen, you could be in trouble.
These Windstopper gloves were so cosy and from the moment I slipped them on, I knew they would do the trick. The lining is soft and comfortable whilst the outside of the glove does the hard work by shielding you from the wind. My only issue was that the fingers came up quite large on my hands so there is a little bit of 'floppy phalanges' action but on the whole, it didn't affect my hand dexterity when I was riding.
I also wore a pair of Sportful's merino socks which were the warmest things ever. I would certainly choose them on a cold winter ride under booties to keep my toes warm. I am actually wearing them right now as I write this review as they are so comfortable. Even my dogs agree.