I was very fortunate to meet up with the UK representative of Santini Cycling at a bike show earlier this year and we discussed if Santini would consider sending out some of their cycling kit for me to review. I’m very happy to say that Santini’s HQ in Bergamo came back to me with a resounding yes. It’s great to see that a premium brand is so confident in their product that they are willing to send out kit for an unpaid , unbiased review.
DYLAN – TECHNICAL SHIRT
This shirt feels like a luxury item straight out of the package. Its wool blend feels super soft to the touch and the colour is bang on trend for the current gravel style. The fit is slightly fitted but not in any way “racing snake” so it looks good on ordinary people, it also does not scream “cyclist” and I’ve worn it to the pub and at work. The shirt has a lining that feels good against your skin, I have been wearing it with a thin base layer underneath as it doesn’t let any drafts through on cold days. On hotter days the press stud/poppers down the front are exactly what you need to ventilate easily with one hand if need be on a prolonged climb, much better than fiddly buttons. The one thing I’d like to see on this shirt are different cuffs. The cuffs here are just like a long sleeve jersey with no popper/ button so your only choice if you want to roll sleeves up is to just push them up rather that rolling and exposing more arm. There are no chest pockets but there is a zipped pocket at the rear which I found perfect for carrying my phone and a couple of times I’ve stashed a gilet in there in an emergency.
The Dylan shirt is a really great versatile garment that looks just as at home on and off the bike, at time of publishing this shirt retails at £160, not exactly cheap but the great feel, fit and the dual use it’s worth the outlay.
GLORY DAY – JERSEY
This jersey has a slim fit, so I sized up one size as I’m really not into marginal gains and full aero. if you are, then the sizing guide will be spot on. Going one size up gave me a comfortable but not flappy fit. The sleeves are what Santini call body fit and they are tight but not restrictive. The full length zip (which I think is a must on all jerseys) is great for venting on climbs and is much more elegant when getting dressed in company! I love the colour and the fact it has three useful and adequately deep pockets at the rear with reflective strips at each side.
Definitely a jersey for summer with a thin base layer underneath or spring/autumn with a gilet…..talking of which…
ALPHA PACK – VEST
This one is a bit controversial really. As this review is coming out when the temperatures are getting warmer (hopefully) and this vest is really a colder month item so you’d think it wasn’t the best thing for Santini to send as the market for winter stuff is waning, but, this vest is so great styling wise I just really wanted to try it. It is lined with Polartec fabric which is very warm! The centre chest pocket has a zip closure and the whole vest can be folded into this pocket for compact storage. To accommodate this pocket the main zip is offset to the right hand side. There are three deep pockets at the rear and this is a great feature from Santini, too many gilets these days have no pockets so if you need to stash something you have to go under your gilet to get to jersey pockets. No such problems here, the pockets are deep and useful and your phone , even the biggest smartphone will be swallowed up and wont fall out. Now the warmer days are here I’ve been using this vest on evening rides that start off warm but soon chill down, especially if there’s a pub stop! The styling is great, I really love the look of that central chest pocket but this pocket causes the one issue I have with the vest. if you need to vent heat on a climb and unzip, then you’ll have one large flap of vest one side and the remnants on the other and it makes the vest hang weirdly, which is accentuated if there’s weight in the rear pocket.
I can live with the zip position and I can say that this is my favourite of all the kit Santini sent out. There’s also a long sleeve version that would make a cracking winter jacket.
GRAVEL – BIB SHORTS
Santini’s Gravel Bib shorts feature what they call their C3 pad which has a gel structure. The short material is super soft against your skin and features breathable mesh on the back of the shoulder bibs, there are two thigh pockets and two pockets at the back, there are reflective strips on either leg.
Cycling shorts take a while to review, normally the first ride is inconclusive as you compare them to your favourite pair. Your favourite pair have been warn many times, washed many times and the pad has moulded to your sit bone and arse cheek shape whereas the new shorts normally are uncomfortable as they just aren’t worn in. it’s only right then to give them a series of short and long rides and many washes to be fair to them. One of my riding buddies asked how much they cost, and replied “they’d better be bloody good for that” when I said they retail at £160.
I say normally, and I really wanted to find something I didn’t like about these shorts to prove that expensive isn’t always better. In this case though you get what you pay for, first ride in these shorts I completely forgot that they hadn’t been worn before, they were that comfortable. The shoulder bibs are wide so they don’t dig in. The thigh pockets are deep enough to give you confidence nothing is going to fall out and the mild compression the shorts give supports your leg muscles. Each subsequent wash has only confirmed my initial impression, these shorts are worth the money.
Massive thanks to Santini Cycling and Santini UK for giving me the opportunity to try these garments out.
find out more about the Santini range here