Santini's Women's Legend bib shorts have a great pad and are ideal for long days in the saddle, with light compression and some excellent grippers making for a secure fit around the legs. The bib setup and high back might not suit everyone though.
The shorts are made from a traditional style Lycra which gives a comfortable fit, and they move freely with the body while cycling.
I began testing these in quite moderate temperatures – mid to high teens – and they were perfect teamed with leg warmers; I didn't sense any wind chill, nor did I experience excessive sweating.
On warmer days, though, they can feel a bit hot. Into the low 20s on a sunny day, I would prefer a mesh panel or simply a lower cut at the rear. When the sun's beating down you might not appreciate the coverage that the back panel gives.
The chamois is nothing short of excellent. There is significant padding where required – your sit bones and genital area – and these pads are in sections, separated by channels, so that the chamois as a whole conforms to your body shape.
The padding tapers to the edge of the chamois, too. It's up to long hours in the saddle but won't make you feel like you're wearing a nappy.
Despite its substance, I never felt like I was overheating in it. The dimples in the padding make a difference here, I think. I've enjoyed rides of over four hours on the road and tame, gravel outings in the Legend shorts and never once felt uncomfortable or experienced rubbing or hot spots.
Selecting a size from Santini's chart wasn't clear cut for me. Its shorts are based on three measurements: waist, hips and inseam, though I'd say the latter is personal preference. I come in at 'small' waist-wise, 'medium' hip-wise, and would personally want a 'large' inseam – I don't like short shorts.
I opted for a medium, which gave me the length and compression I would expect in the leg, but it was a looser fit than I'd prefer around the hips and waist.
The back panel sits higher than many shorts, and for me there was too much material sitting loosely around the lower back, which didn't help to hold the shorts snug around the hips. I'd say this is primarily down to my body shape; my 'small' waist should have dictated the sizing over my 'medium' hips for a snug, skin-tight fit. This was particularly evident when down on the drops, with a gathering of material and a noticeable lack of compression at the groin. If I were to buy, I'd definitely be sizing down.
The leg grippers are top notch. A deep band lined with honeycomb-shaped silicone holds the shorts firmly in place against both leg warmers and bare skin.
As you can see in the pics, the bib is an 'over-the-head-frontal-clasp' setup, not dissimilar to Liv's Race Day shorts that I reviewed last year. While I'm not a huge fan of this design over a conventional bib, I know that it can really suit women who have bigger boobs; a single, central strap is much more comfortable.
You can get them off for a quick pee stop without taking your jersey off (do take care not to strangle yourself by catching the bib on your helmet), but getting them done back up again post-pee really requires you to take your jersey off... So, in short, nothing gained in terms of practicality.
While the hook-and-eye style clasp is very small, it's actually really easy to use; the parts engage with no faff or fiddle, though there are just two 'settings'.
The shorts are really well made: neat seams with no obvious weak spots, and no irritating internal seams either. Even the chamois edge is tapered/closed down, so there should be no fraying or curling up here long term. I've washed and worn these excessively during the test period and there is no sign of deterioration.
Looking at value, there are decent bib shorts for less than £100 out there, such as Liv's Race Days I mentioned above, Van Rysel's RR 900s and Cycology's Women's Logo Bib Shorts, though they all have some sort of 'drawback'.
I'd say a more like-for-like comparison is Lusso's RS19 at £100. Santini's are only £10 more, and I don't think they are overpriced for the quality that you get.
Overall, I can't fault the Legend Shorts' outstanding chamois and fabric durability. Just be sure to study the size chart carefully and size down if in doubt. And be aware of the high rear panel and frontal bib-clasp, as this won't be everyone's preference.
Outstanding chamois in a quality pair of shorts, if you like the high back and halter bib
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Women's Legend Bib Short C3W Pad
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says: 'Legendary comfort. Our top of the range women's bib shorts. Manufactured from our Legend fabric to the highest standards. Experience a supreme tight fit around the leg thanks to the elasticated bottoms with honeycomb silicone grippers. Specially engineered with the C3W chamois technology for maximum comfort and performance on the saddle. Providing excellent shock protection, breathability and exceptional freedom of movement. Ergonomic braces with the frontal 'easy on' closure system.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
MUSCLE COMPRESSION FABRIC:
Constructed from compressive Legend fabric for greater
New C3W chamois for total protection and lightness
Lycra braces and new 'easy on' closure system
Early days, but looking really good.
Come up large – I'd advise sizing down.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Recommended 30 degree cycle, looking as good as new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Do what they claim: offer a tight fit around the leg, a chamois that is exceptionally comfortable and a fabric that flows well with body movement. The chamois is breathable and doesn't feel bulky despite offering substantial support.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The high back.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, but the fit didn't make the experience exceptional.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? With some advice on fit, yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Durable fabrics and construction with an exceptional chamois make for a high quality pair of shorts, but the high back and halter bib won't be for everyone.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…