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The Santini Karma Kinetic Bib Shorts provide a really good compressive fit, a comfortable pad and excellent breathability. These are great for hot summer days on the bike.
Santini say these shorts are suitable from 18-35°C for rides of up to seven hours, and during the July heatwave I put these to the ultimate test (perhaps unwisely) on a hilly 100 miles in 30°C heat.
The bibs are made with Polartec's Delta fabric, which is designed to wick sweat away from the body quickly, and this worked well – there were some damp patches, as you'd expect in such weather, but these quickly dried off once I picked up a bit of speed on the descents. I never found myself overheating in them and never felt uncomfortable.
I've also worn them on a few of the rare cooler days we've had recently of around 13°C, and they were still fine.
They're standing up well to wear, too: I have worn these a lot during a month or so of testing and the quality of the stitching still looks great after frequent washing.
The GITevo chamois does a good job of providing all-day comfort without feeling too bulky. I've worn these shorts on long rides on some poorly surfaced lanes and have never experienced any discomfort.
It has a seamless construction, with an anti-shock gel core designed to reduce the impact of the road. I'd say it's on a par with the pads in other shorts I own from the likes of Assos and Castelli.
As with other Italian kit, these size up slightly smaller than some shorts I've tested recently. I tested these in a medium, and was in the middle of the size guide range, and found these snug but not restrictive.
The shorts come in seven sizes, from XS to 3XL, so you should be able to find one that suits.
They have what Santini describes as a compressive performance fit. The compression provides a close race fit on the legs, which I liked as it gives good support when on longer or race effort rides.
The leg length is also perfect in my opinion, sitting above the knee without being too short.
The leg gripper is incredibly effective – perhaps too effective at times, sticking to my leg hair when putting them on. There was certainly no riding up during testing.
The straps are made from a lightweight mesh material that's good for breathability. I've had some issues with the straps on similar shorts I've tested, but that's not the case here: there's no compromise on comfort.
My only gripe with these shorts is that the front comes up quite high, around belly button level, and the material isn't quite stretchy enough for it be easy to have a quick mid-ride comfort break; it's not impossible, it's just not that quick.
Colour-wise, the black with red stripes option I tested matches my club kit perfectly, but if that isn't to your taste there are three others to choose from: grey, green or blue, with different colour stripes for each.
At £125 (originally £140), the shorts sit in the mid-price range with a lot of competition, and I'd say the quality is in line with similar shorts we've tested.
Stu rated both the Nopinz Souplesse Bib Shorts (£119.99) and the NVPA BIB/Short Navy (£145) highly, and the recently tested Kalas Pure Z bib shorts offer a similar compressive fit at £119, although with the opposite issue to the Santinis: Jo finding that the front of the shorts is a bit too loose.
You can buy cheaper shorts – the Galibier Équipe 2 Aero Bib Shorts scored well and are priced at £73 – and more expensive shorts: the highly rated MAAP Pro Bib 2.0s come in at £235 (read the review here).
These Karma Kinetic bib shorts are great for long hot days in the saddle, with a comfortable pad and excellent breathability. The compression provides a good level of support, especially on more demanding efforts. All in all, I'd highly recommend these.
Excellent compressive fit, comfortable pad and great breathability
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Karma Kinetic Mens Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says: "Made with compression fabric in a performance fit. Perfect to ride all summer long."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Santini lists these features:
Made with high elasticity, compact Italian fabric with power compression technology. It provides medium compression without being restrictive. Incredibly durable it retains its features through time. Printed leg gripper to keep the bib shorts always in place.
EXTREME COMFORT AND BREATHABILITY
Bibs made with Polartec®'s Delta fabric for a fast transmission of sweat away from the body, guaranteeing rapid drying and great breathability.
GITevo chamois with gel core that absorbs shock steadily and gradually for comfort on long rides.
Great compressive fit and comfortable pad.
Look great after wearing and washing a lot.
Front could be a touch lower for my liking.
On the smaller side compared with other brands, but I still wouldn't recommend sizing up.
The compression felt comfortable on the legs.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed at 30°C with other cycling kit and looks as good as new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great performance, good fit, breathable and comfortable pad.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The compressive fit on the legs provided great support, and the pad was comfortable for long distance rides.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The high front made comfort breaks a bit tricky.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's broadly in line with the competition – the Assos Mille GT Bib Shorts C2 are the same price, the NVPAs a little higher (£145), the Nopinz Souplesse £119.99, and the recently tested Kalas £119.
Some are much more expensive: the MAAP Pro Bib 2.0 are highly rated and £235.
Some a lot cheaper: the Galibier Equipe 2 aero bib shorts were well reviewed at only £73.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are excellent – a great compressive fit and breathability, and a comfortable pad for long rides. I would definitely recommend these shorts.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Roubaix My best bike is: Cervelo S3
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Indoor