The designers at Santini received a simple brief for the Racer bibs, “plain black, quick luxury.” These four words brought on a frenzy of research and development to create the shorts.
So have the developers been able to achieve what they set out to do, or were they stuck trying to reinvent the wheel?
The waves running up the legs serve as compression bands and leg grippers
Attempting to use as few panels as possible, Santini wanted to create a seamless pair of bibs. Using a single panel of fabric eliminates many of the seams, but means the shorts must be tailored perfectly to create the desired fit. Although it is quite an undertaking, Santini has absolutely nailed the brief, and the Racer Bibs are some of the best fitting shorts to come through the BikeRadar office.
They're made from Santini’s exclusive hand-cut Onda fabric, which according to the Italian manufacturer “supports and fits the thighs perfectly without rolling up”. Onda, which means 'wave' in Italian, fittingly describes the design of the shorts. The visible waves that run up the thighs are compression bands that double as grippers. The density of the compression band varies over the thigh, being denser where extra force is needed, and add a nice aesthetic touch to the simple black shorts.
The sheen finish of the Onda fabric creates a unique aesthetic
When we first stepped into the Racer Bibs we were only able to pull them up about half way. Despite our testers first thoughts of ‘why didn't we ask for a medium’ and ‘man, I wish I had not eaten that last Krispy Kreme’, a closer look revealed the compression bands which double as grippers were stuck to his thighs. The silicone-weaved fabric is extremely tacky, and the shorts cannot just be pulled on like an old pair of jeans.
Once on though, the fabric is extremely comfortable, providing pleasant compression, while the nearly full length grippers ensure the shorts stay in place. The lightweight mesh bib straps are plenty long and sit comfortably over the shoulders.
Silicone threads are woven into the Onda fabric
Santini has used its WorldTour proven NAT (Next Airflow Technology) chamois in the Race bibs. The pad features NEXT gel inserts, which Santini claims “provides for a cooling effect, and small self massaging micro circles boost circulation”. While this is something of a bold claim, we can say that our testers found the chamois placement to be perfect, and that the NEXT gel inserts supported our sit bones nicely. We do question the use of a white material for the chamois, however, because after one ride in the rain it turned grey.
After about a month of riding in the Racer Bibs we were horrified to see what we initially thought was wear, where the shorts rub on the saddle. Fortunately, upon closer inspection we established that it was not the fabric wearing away, but that friction with the saddle had roughed up the fabric's sheen finish.
What we first thought to be the wear, was instead contact with the saddle roughing up the Onda fabric's sheen finish
Then there’s the price – at AU$299.99 the Santini Racer bibs fall well into the upper echelons of expensive shorts. Everybody needs a good pair of black bib shots though, and we feel that the Racer Bibs are deserving of this price, providing all day comfort and a supremely well-executed fit.