Words by Katherine Moore
Santini SMS is an Italian cycling apparel designer and manufacturer that has history woven into the very fabric of cycling itself. Established in 1965 before Lycra was even invented, Santini went on to produce cycling apparel for professional racing teams such as Boels-Dolmans, the Australian and Slovakian national racing teams, as well as various MTB, cyclocross and fixed gear racers and triathletes.
Total Women’s Cycling contributor Katherine Moore puts a some of the Santini SMS women’s summer range to the test which includes the REA 2.0 Bib shorts and the Queen of the Mountains jersey.
Santini REA 2.0 Bib shorts
A quality pair of plain black padded shorts forms the foundation of any cyclist’s wardrobe. Versatile enough to wear with the loudest of jerseys and with the comfort that you can count on mile after mile, finding a reliable pair is the first step to cycling success. Getting it wrong, on the other hand, can lead to a whole lot of trouble...
The Rea 2.0 bib shorts were designed to be ‘ideal for all occasions’ with subtle detail such as minimal branding and small reflective labels on the rear of the thighs for visibility if you find yourself cycling in low-light conditions.
The leg length is mid to short compared to other brands, which gives a more feminine cut. Santini has opted for Y-shaped mesh braces for these bib shorts, with an extensive lycra and mesh panel covering even above the waist. So how do these features influence the real key to any cycling shorts: comfort?
During testing, there wasn’t a lot to notice about the Santini Rea 2.0 bib shorts. No areas of restriction, no chafing, no tightness or baggy areas, in fact, you would barely notice they were there at all!
The construction of the leg panels has been cleverly thought through, with four panels on each leg giving a well-contoured fit. Silicone grippers are employed around the inner thigh only, in combination with a more elastic material, and the raw hem on the legs banishes seams which may lead to irritation.
The polyamide/elastane ‘Thunderbike Power Material’ gives a moderate level of compression, supposedly to reduce muscle fatigue, and has also been designed to be durable, keeping your kit looking and feeling as good as new for seasons to come. This cut on the thighs is not only supremely comfortable but also keeps these shorts firmly in place without being restrictive.
Moving up to the hips and waist, these bib shorts extend quite high up to eradicate the chance of any restriction or discomfort in the stomach region whilst riding, giving total support whilst remaining breathable too through the lightweight mesh construction. Although the Y-shaped fixing may be a little awkward when it comes to relieving yourself, whilst in the saddle, it keeps you ache-free for hours on end, with no neck or shoulder irritation that may be experienced with other bib designs.
Last but certainly not least, the GIL2 chamois is one of the best I’ve ever tested. In two parts, the inner silicone gel core gives good support to the crucial region, reducing shock impact whilst a wider, thinner area, or ‘wings’ act to prevent chafing. The upper of the two layers is also composed of an antimicrobial microfibre material, to keep you hygienic and happy in the saddle.
The Rea 2.0 bib shorts from Santini SMS retail at £81, a price considerably lower than other bib shorts of a comparable quality from other brands. Designed and made in Italy by this well-regarded firm, you can see why Santini is the brand of choice for many professional athletes with kit this good. The bib shorts, although simple and understated in styling, give superior comfort and performance, leaving you to focus on enjoying your ride, whatever discipline you choose.
Santini Queen of the Mountains jersey
The Queen of the Mountains jersey is not only striking but also clearly intended with that purpose in mind; those long, testing mountainous climbs that we dream about. Lightweight and created for summer riding, does this stylish jersey really hold the key to performance too?
Rather surprisingly for a lightweight summer jersey, it features five pockets. Although not tiny, these equally sized pockets across the lower back and extending around the side of the hips may be a little restrictive, for example when packing a thin jacket for that long mountain descent. A zipped pocket would be handy for valuables or cash, which unfortunately is lacking in this model. The jersey is fastened with a full-length metallic zip, rising up to the top of the seamless, double layer collar.
The fit of the Queen of the Mountains jersey would certainly be described as a racing fit, with the figure-hugging polyester/elastane material giving a close and aero fit in every aspect. However don’t mistake this for discomfort; much like the REA 2.0 bib shorts, the jersey feels weightless and much like a second skin. With seamless sleeves and a seamless lower hem, its shows that Santini SMS have rider comfort at the heart of their design. The lower hem is a wide elasticated band, complete with silicone on the inside to keep the lower edge of your jersey firmly in place whilst in the saddle, without feeling tight or digging in at all.
The choice of material constructing the back of this jersey is also an indication for this jersey’s intended purpose. The thin navy blue mesh panel extending across the middle back has been designed to give maximum breathability, keeping you as cool as possible whilst tackling the climbs or riding in the heat of the day.
If you’re seeking kit for getting the best out of your summer riding challenges or perhaps taking your bike abroad, the Santini Queen of the Mountains jersey will give you a close and comfortable fit and keep you riding at your full potential. Perhaps the only way that this summer specific jersey could be improved would be to add a zipped pocket to allow for secure storage of valuables on your ride.
The Queen of the Mountains jersey is also available in fuschia/purple and peppermint green/yellow colourways, as well as this white and purple edition.
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