i have little knowledge regarding the female readership of the post, but since some of my best friends are female ladies of the opposite sex, i am keen to expand coverage of products aimed at an ever-expanding section of the cycling population. despite the ponytail, however, i am ill-equipped to be the arbiter of fit or style pertaining to this sector of the market.
but i know a lady who is.
once again, gem atkinson has stepped up to the track-pump with a prepared dissertation on santini's 'unisex' slice bibshorts, and once again, i am grateful for her assistance.
Santini lycra has long adorned our favourite race kits within the professional peloton. Right up to the Pro Tour level, the Santini SMS logo has become synonymous with race-ready and stylishly made cycling attire, with that hit-or-miss European flavour to it.
I was intrigued to receive from Santini specialists, Prendas Ciclisimo, a pair of Santini's new 'Slice' bibshorts to put to the test. I say intrigued because this was the first pair of shorts I have known to openly bill themselves as 'Unisex'.
Usually in a female specific pair of shorts we can expect to see a shorter leg length in comparison to men's shorts, with the main usp being a dedicated chamois designed for the female anatomy. So it was with particular interest that i looked at these bibshorts.from a female perspective
I'm perhaps a bit peculiar that, in most cases, I actually prefer to sport a men's pair of shorts (until Rapha recently turned my head with their luxury ladies waist shorts, convincing me that truly excellent ladies' short swere out there). My preference is due to liking bibs to keep the shorts secure, in turn holding the padding in place; a rather important factor for me on those long days in the saddle. I've also previously mentioned that I'm particularly averse to the trend by apparel manufacturers to offer shorts in very short hot-pant style leg lengths. I like to have a leg length akin to those riders I idolise in the professional peloton. In fact, part of the joy of suiting up in my cycling uniform is that I love wearing similar kit to the pros; I even love having a radio pocket on the back (though it's only ever an iPod or house-keys in mine). I like bibs made from high-tech mesh, and also partial to good quality Lycra. Working within these three criteria, the Slice shorts were already holding up well, (pardon the pun) and ticking some important boxes.
But what of the ride? That's obviously the most important part of this review I hear you say! Pulling them on, the luxury of the lycra was well-noted. It feels thick and almost compression-like, pulling in all those bumpy bits around the ttop of the thighs where one would like a bit of extra support. They didn't feel restrictive but were certainly firm in the way they grasped the legs. The length could be described as 'European' in that they're certainly shorter than their American counterparts (Pearl Izumi, Nike etc). However it was a nice length, not too short, but exposing my short tan by around an inch or so. In fact I rather like this length, it seems perfect for either male or female, and manages to please both camps simultaneously. Double elastic grippers with the Santini logo adorn each leg, allowing the wearer to flip them up, should they really be keen to eliminate the lower tan line of traditional shorts.
I found the chamois worked particularly well. This is Santini's new wonderfully complex sounding 'Intech Gel Slice'. In a nutshell, they have taken their popular Twistgel chamois and tweaked it for improved performance when using a cutout saddle. I don't use a cutout saddle, but found the chamois performed nicely with my Fizik Aliante. The placement is perfect; I've found with shorts such as the Assos f1 Mille, that the chamois is placed a little too far back for my liking. However on the Slice shorts the padding sits perfectly in place, helped no doubt by the close fitting bib straps. In the middle of the 'TwistGel' chamois is a gel centre that claims to absorb and dampen road vibration. I cant vouch for this, but i will say is that it feels very comfortable, without being overly cushion-like. It did its job very well, because, to be honest I didn't particularly notice it.
A good sign indeed.
I wore the shorts in a variety of situations this past week, subsequently washing at low temperature with non-bio in between each ride. On my relatively quick seven mile commute, they felt comfortable, though I have to say I was impressed at their performance over longer distances. I took a 100k jaunt into the hills of Surrey and found they performed very nicely indeed, on a par in fact, with much higher priced shorts. (For example, I much preferred them to the Assos Mille, costing almost twice as much).
Coming in at just under £70, I can't fault the Santinis on a performance level. With simple looks, plain black lycra and nice contrasting leg grippers, these are shorts that I assure will complement most jerseys and jackets, from the subtle muted palette to the downright crazy, technicolor retro jerseys from years gone by.
In offering a unisex short, Santini have recognised that ladies are quite often looking for something similar, if not identical to their male counterpart. It's wonderful to see other manufacturers follow suit and offer products in this vein. The Santinis look equally as smart on both men and women, and I would certainly give them the Bianchista stamp of approval. For any ladies out there looking for just such a pair of shorts, these are them. They have been elsewhere described as 'Mid-range price but with high-end quality', and frankly I couldn't agree more.
The Santini Slice Powerlycra bibshorts are available in Black or Blue in sizes xs-xxxxxl from Prendas Ciclismo. Drop them a line if unsure of your sizing.
posted sunday 26 september 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................