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Santini Tono bibshorts and jersey review

26 Oct 2017

Cool in both appearance and function

Cyclist Rating: 
Great looking, all day comfort
Fragile jersey fabric. Short legs might not suit all tastes

Hot weather specific jersey and shorts from long standing Italian clothing maker Santini. Designed for the sort of weather most Brits normally have to catch a flight to encounter the Santini Tono bibshorts and jersey are made for long hot days.

With the shorts featuring lightweight fabrics and an endurance pad, the jersey is even more minimalist, being composed of a mesh style material.

Intended for the height of summer, Santini has been teasing the kit ahead of its broader release in 2018.

I was lucky enough to try it while riding through some of this season’s last truly hot days down in Provence.

First off, as makers of the World Champion's rainbow jersey it’s unsurprising Santini’s kit is quite athletic in its fit.

Here’s the standard warning about Italian made racing gear: When you first look in the mirror you’ll need to readjust the mental image you hold of yourself in your head.

Close cut it’s largely designed for either actual bike racers, or uncommonly skinny and lissome amateurs.

Still with plenty of stretch happily both Tono pieces will actually fit a relatively wide range of body shapes.

Top half, Santini Tono Jersey

Pick up the jersey and it’s obvious there’s very little mass to it. Pulled on the fit is svelte, but in no way constrictive, thanks to the material’s plentiful stretch.

The main panels are made of something called Sesia micro-mesh. As a fabric it’s as breathable as you’ll find. It’s also extremely soft and comfortable.

In use you can really feel the air cutting through the jersey. Build up a sweat and there’s nothing there to saturate, meaning I never felt clammy or weighed down.

The downside is that, like most super hot weather fabrics, it’s a little more prone to snagging than heavier alternatives.

More conventional looking, the side panels and sleeves are composed of Arctic lycra, a clever cold-to-the-touch material.

Longer than average, the raw edge sleeves look aero and stay in place without needing grippers.

Features wise you get the standard three pockets, although none sports a zip, meaning keys or cards will be less secure.

Below the pockets the soft and stretchy lower hem includes twin strips of silicone to keep the bottom of the jersey in place.

Perhaps most unique is the collar construction. Dipping downwards towards the zip it’s creates a v-neck type effect.

For my money it looks great, while also allowing more cooling airflow to your neck and sternum.

Santini recommends the Tono jersey to serve between 18-35°c. So how cool a jersey is it? Imagine the reception David Walsh would get if he gatecrashed Lance Armstrong’s birthday party and you’d be in the right sort of range.

Bottom half, Santini Tono bibshorts

As cool to look at, if not quite as breezy to wear are the Tono bibshorts. Constructed of Santini’s Monica fabric, this is reasonably lightweight, if not quite as incredibly thin as some.

Luckily it renders the shorts a little more robust and allows them to be useful across a broader range of temperatures.

At the short’s centre is Santini’s NAT pad. This sandwiches a perforated silicone-like material between an anti-bacterial microfibre and two different thin layers of foam.

Hidden away inside, this squishy core features a host of holes and dimples. These both boost breathability and, Santini claims, provide a micro-massaging effect that’s designed to improve blood flow.

When worn you’d be hard-pressed to feel this in action. However the pad is certainly comfortable and close fitting, so it’s likely doing something.

Despite being relatively thin, in keeping with its endurance billing it provides top comfort on all-day rides.

A single criticism, and I don’t wish to be indelicate, but is a white chamois pad a good idea? I’m not convinced.

Short Shorts

Turning to the cut of the shorts, the bottom of each leg is left raw edged rather than featuring a hem or elasticated cuff.

Instead a very wide strip of silicone dots is printed on their inside to help hold them in place. Taken off after a long day there were no red marks on my legs underneath, so they seem to work.

Internally the seams are conventionally joined rather than flat locked, although there are deliberately few of them and they fit very flushly.

Holding things up the straps are pleasingly brace-like. Broad and flat they're rigid horizontally, yet extremely stretchy vertically, meaning they can extend to accommodate riders both tall and short of upper body.

Continuing the ‘keep it cool theme’ joining the back section is a mesh panel.

One thing is worth mentioning about the Tono shorts. While a size medium (M) was a good fit for my average diameter quads and 5ft 10” frame, the legs are a little on the short side, as evidenced by a pasty band between the cuffs and the start of my late-season cyclist's tan.

This seems to be a stylistic choice and suits their summer season designation. Less coverage is going to keep you cooler after all.


Both jersey and shorts kept me chilled in warm weather. The pad was good all day. I liked the styling. All round a positive experience.

So would I buy them? In a market where some manufacturers seem to be competing to push prices as high as possible with very little justification, Santini’s kit works hard to justify its cost.

Not cheap, but not the most expensive either, there’s plenty of clever features that I can see other brands pinching, particularly the neat collar design.

Functionality is on-point and in my subjective opinion both jersey and shorts look great, as long as your onboard with the slightly minimalist leg length.

Who knew, short shorts and v-neck tops aren’t just for posing on the beach.

Bibshorts £135; jersey £80

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