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Santini's Grido Women's Bib Tights feel very warm in cold weather and have a comfy chamois that soaks up miles easily. For the high price tag it would be good to see a better quality finish in the finer details of seams and zip, plus a bit more breathability. And check the fit in the body: it was too short for me.
Part of the Vega range (Santini's warmest winter kit), these tights offer two stand-out features: an integrated baselayer and PU leather leg panels.
Out of the box, the legs looked like three-quarter-length tights. But don't be fooled: they're deceptively stretchy. Once pulled on – with surprising ease – they lengthened like a dream, providing full leg coverage down to my ankles. On Santini's guide I fit the small in all but height, where I'm a medium – but I'm only 5ft 7in. Interestingly, the height guide for women maxes out at 5ft 7.7in, for XXL, which is probably why I found the suit way too short in the body – a pretty vital factor for an all-in-one.
As a result, I felt some pulling around the neckline and mid-section. So if, like me, you're 5ft 6in or over, you might find it too short. That said, I have a long body to leg ratio, so if you have a shorter torso, you might be fine. In all other aspects the fit felt good; with the Grido's close yet unrestrictive cut, I felt super-protected and ready for action.
Time to get out on the road and see if these bibs 'wrap me in a warm embrace', as Santini suggests. They're apparently designed for -8 to 5°C so I was unsurprised to feel a bit warm (with the addition of a jersey and jacket) on my first ride (a breezy 9°C). Later testing in temperatures around 5°C, with just the jacket on top, I felt a sense of protective warmth for the duration of my rides, despite some dampness on the upper, baselayer, section.
The baselayer is made from Polartec, a type of polyester/wool synthetic fleece designed to feel soft and absorb less than 1% of water.
The fleece feels very comfortable and warm against my skin, but does gather a little moisture in the typically sweatier areas when working hard.
The arms are lined with the same Polartec fleece. They are nice and long – stopping just above my elbow – giving a feeling of warmth. The only downside is they're finished with a thin piece of elasticated hem which digs in a bit on an otherwise well-fitting sleeve. I'd have preferred the sleeve hems to have been wider and softer.
The zip, which runs from neck to navel, is backed with a flap of fabric to reduce any chafing, but the overall feel of the zip itself is a little cheap compared with other products I've tested lately; a potential issue for durability.
You have to see the tights to fully appreciate their Cat Woman-like qualities. They're made of thick polyester/elastane panels which are sewn to smooth, shiny PU, a type of fake leather that's more breathable than PVC but more waterproof than the real deal. This panelling provides an eye-catching, flowing shape down the legs. It's worth noting that the rear of the panels – where PU meets polyester – requires meaty seams which left imprints on me after wearing for even a short time. A few flatlock seams wouldn't go amiss here.
The faux-leather panels are designed to offer greater protection from rain and dirt than standard tights. On my test rides, the PU stretched with ease while pedalling and didn't feel at all restrictive – plus they kept the elements at bay as promised. There was no water intake and despite the fact they pick up marks far quicker than non-shiny fabric, it's not an issue as they wipe clean easily.
The PU fabric keeps the cold out to perfection too, but they seemed to keep air trapped along with it. The overall result is a bit more leg clamminess than I'd like. In winter kit, there is always a bit of trade-off between warmth and breathability, and here I just feel that more wicking/breathability would have helped the overall performance. Finally, a polyester fabric makes up the entire leg interior which feels soft against skin.
The base of the tights is finished with a wide, thick cuff. Just above is a reflective strip with a subtle iridescent rainbow hue – a nice touch for that extra bit of safety on darker days.
The pink C3 chamois – Santini's own – is a high point of the Gridos. The gel pads feel robust and they're twinned with multi-density foam which provides great coverage and comfort from soft tissue to sit bone. Even though the positioning of the chamois is forward-focused (the gel is slimmer and further forward than the men's version) it feels surprisingly kind in the upright position too: good news for versatility.
On to practicalities, and the obvious issue with skinsuit-style longs is the wee stop. You'll need to wear an upper layer underneath them if you want to avoid being near-naked in freezing temperatures once the whole thing is around your legs. With other bibs progressing in the convenience stakes, like the outstanding 7mesh 'easy pee' design I tested last year, it feels like a step backwards to make it harder to de-layer than usual.
That said, the tights are super-easy to remove, not unlike a tri wetsuit. They pretty much slip off on their own with little encouragement. They're easy to wash, too (stick in the machine at 30), and after a good few washes there are no signs of deterioration. I wondered if those PU leather panels might accumulate nail marks, but so far, so good.
At £219 these bib tights are expensive, if on a par with our latest on test like the Velocio thermal tights (£212), which scored well but have a similar height/length issue, and Le Col's Hors Categorie bibs (now £230) which also performed well. Of course, with the Grido bibs you get a built-in baselayer, too, so they could be seen as better value.
Overall, they're warm and comfy – just make sure they fit you in the body.
Very warm and protective all-in-one for the coldest of rides – as long as you don't need to stop for a wee
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Vega Grido Women's Bib Tight
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says: Bib tights for extreme temperatures.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rain shield: Thigh inserts made from a fleece-lined fabric, with a fully waterproof PU outer layer.
Winter guard: Water-repellent treatment
Integrated base: Made from POLARTEC® Power Wool fabric, a bi-component knit that transfers moisture out while enhancing thermoregulation, is integrated into the bib.
Hi Viz: Reflective tape on calves for extra safety in the dark.
Anti-shock chamois: C3 chamois, with protective shell, ergonomic 3D surface, and gel inserts.
A solid construction with a very warm and protective feel, let down by seams that dig in a bit and an unusually short body length.
Water resistance and warmth as advertised. Comfy pad. Not as moisture wicking as expected.
Overall durable feel except for the zip.
A high point is the stretch fit, full coverage down to ankles. Points lost for a lack of body length; this was pretty extreme for me, so it probably errs on the side of lacking in length for a standard torso/leg ratio.
Perfect in all but length; the chart doesn't account for women to be any taller than average, which is tricky for an all-in-one.
On the heavier side but this is expected with all this weather-protective fabric.
High points are the comfy pad and warm, protective feel, while moisture build-up and scratchy seams detract from overall comfort.
While not cheap, they're not the most expensive out there, and have quality elements delivering a pretty comfy ride. The built-in baselayer adds more value if they work for you.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Really easy – washes up and dries like a dream.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Personal issues with fit aside, this is a functional and comfortable product for cold rides. However there are a few downsides: a little damp build-up, cheaper finishing touches, and scratchy seams.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The warm, protective feel in cold wind.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fit which, sadly, didn't work for me.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a similar price to other bib tights on the market, but an integrated baselayer adds value, as long as you get on with the fit.
Did you enjoy using the product? Mixed feelings.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, with caveats.
Use this box to explain your overall score
I have mixed feelings about these. The tights have both excellent and poor elements. They feel very warm in cold weather, and the pad is comfy, but (even discounting my personal fit issues) I was disappointed by the finer details and less than impressive wicking at this premium price.
About the tester
I usually ride: My Scott Foil My best bike is: Oldie but the goldie, CAAD 8
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Triathlon, Audax