Quality, Performance, Looks in Italian Gear
You can’t go wrong with the same clothing company that supplied Vincenzo Nibali and his Pro Team Astana their clothing for the 2014 Tour de France.
Nalini has been manufacturing cycling sportswear for over 40 years, from fabric development to finished garment and is known for its quality gear, which is highly technical and at the same time good-looking.
Storica Ti Short-Sleeve Jersey
If you are like many cyclists, a little too large for “race” cut, but on whom “club” cut is a bit too loose, then Nalini’s Storica/Settanta product line is just for you. This line features a snug fit without severely constricting the body. Snug enough so that the material does not flap around in the wind, but loose enough for extreme comfort.
The Storica Ti is classified as a regular-fit jersey, meaning it strikes a balance between race and club fit. Also, for those of us who want comfortable high-tech fabrics that maximize freedom of movement, what sets this jersey apart is the silky soft fabric. It’s very comfortable even without a base layer. Nalini classifies the Storica Ti between a lightweight and medium weight, so it is best used in temps below 90°F (32C). This jersey includes a 1/3 zipper (some call it 1/4) that opens to about 1/3 the length of the jersey.
The synthetic fibers of this jersey are called MantoDry, a breathable material that helps keep the body cool and dry. This fabric absorbs sweat and transports it quickly to the outside where it can easily evaporate. The result is that the body stays drier and more comfortable, and the jersey stays light and fresh.
MantoDry is easy to care for, too: Just throw it in the washer. It has great soil-release capacity (it quickly sheds dirt, sweat and stink) and won’t shrink even when washed on warm.
Settanta Bib Shorts
Settanta bibs are also classified as medium weight, regular-fit with a technical cut that is very comfortable to wear. As with jerseys, race-cut bibs are often on the extremely tight side, and relaxed club-cut bibs can be on the baggy/loose side. The Settanta bibs are somewhere in between, but closer to the race-cut, making them perfect for those who want snug-fitting bibs that aren’t uncomfortably tight. These bibs are extremely stretchy, which contributes to the comfort and fit characteristics.
The bibs include breathable straps, twin pockets, 3-inch (7.6 cm) wide leg grippers with silicone, muscle-support compression-fit Lycra fabric with UV protection, and a 3D chamois with groove cutouts.
These bibs were very comfortable, lightweight and performed well. The only very small nit-pick is that they are (as measured from the center of the pad to the bottom of the leg opening) 11.50 inches (29.2cm), which makes them about 1.5 inches (3.8cm) longer in the legs than conventional 10-inch (25.4cm) shorts. The bottom of the legs were right at the top of my knees. But, since they are so comfortable, after several miles of riding, you won’t notice the extra length.
The chamois is another very important aspect when choosing bib shorts. Manufacturers “match” the chamois to the qualities of the bib. In other words, they would not make a loose-cut long-distance bib and sew in a minimalist racing chamois.
The Series 3.2 D/80 synthetic chamois is classified as a training chamois, but I would consider it to be pro-level quality. With its breathable fabric, three different thicknesses and three different padding densities, it’s designed to lessen the pressure on the perineal area and gives excellent support to the ischial bones.
Both the jersey and bibs are available in six sizes: S, M, LG, XL, XXL, XXXL. Remember, compared to U.S. sizes, most European clothing will fit one size smaller than what you are used to. Nalini is probably closer to a 3/4 size difference. For example, if you normally take a U.S. size L, you may want to “size up” to Nalini’s XL.
How Did They Perform?
The jersey was extremely comfortable. The fabric was ultra-soft and ultra-smooth. There was no itching or sore spots when wearing the jersey without a base layer. Some jerseys constrict the underarms, but not this one. Even after a 4-hour ride, there was no itching, scraping, constricting or chafing.
With just the right amount of compression, the bibs were extremely comfortable and supportive, as well. The other feature I like is the 2.75-inch (7cm) wide silicon leg grippers. They gripped the legs with enough pressure so the bibs did not ride up, but not so tight as to be restrictive and uncomfortable.
I am now getting to the point that I cannot wear the old style 1/2-inch-wide leg grippers anymore. Over the past year, I have been primarily wearing bibs that have this new style ultra-wide (2- to 2.75-inch) silicon grippers.
For those who want shorter/standard leg length bibs, Nalini makes those as well. The difference is that the standard length bibs come with the 1/2-inch wide leg grippers vs. the ultra-comfort grippers as found on all of theirlonger legged shorts. The added length of these shorts in no way detracted from the ultimate comfort that they provide.
The Last Word
Nalini has new collections coming out each season, so it makes sense to check product availability often. For a great summary of Nalini products available in the U.S., check out the site of their U.S. importer, Albabici. Nalini makes truly high quality products, and I highly recommend them.
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist and Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.