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The Santini Redux Istinto Bib Shorts take aerodynamics and a skin-tight fit to the next level. They can take a bit of fight to get on – getting dressed elegantly isn't going to happen – but once in place and you've jiggled them about a bit, you're in for hours of cosseted comfort on the bike. This level of performance doesn't come cheap, though.
According to Santini, the Redux Istintos are a pair of ultra-high-performance bib shorts, and you can tell that's their intention from the moment you get them on.
There isn't a massive amount of give in the highly compressive Tattoo Effect Fitter fabric, but once you get on the bike it all makes sense. They are very comfortable, with the high compression levels giving your muscles plenty of support.
They didn't always sit right straight away, and sometimes I'd have to spend a few minutes adjusting the shorts for perfect comfort, but once I'd worn them a few times I knew where things should sit like leg length and so on, so it wasn't a longterm issue.
Being so compressive, and because it has a softshell kind of feel to it, the fabric can make the shorts a bit more difficult to get on than most; I had to manhandle them a fair bit just to get them up over my thighs.
This makes it more important than ever to get the correct size. I'm a medium in virtually every brand, and while once in position this medium pair felt very comfortable, if I was actually buying them I would go for a large, just for that little bit of extra wiggle room.
Seams have been kept to an absolute minimum, relying on the pull of the material to provide the fit rather than shaped panels, and the legs stay in position without any unwanted pressure, with a band of silicone for assistance.
The bib straps are a single piece so there are no seams on the shoulders, and thanks to their wide, flat design they don't cause any pressure points.
At first I found Santin's C3 pad to be a little bulky, and for the first two or three rides I didn't get on with it that well. Since then, though, the gel pads seem to have moulded a bit to the shape of my sit bones and compressed a touch, so now I actually get on very well with it on rides of up to four hours, and I see no issues with ramping up the hours while wearing the Istintos.
Santini gives a temperature range of 18°C to 35°C and while I haven't had the chance to try the upper range yet, I've worn these in temperatures up to the mid-20s and still found them to be breathable.
I haven't had any problems at the other end, either, on days below 18°C.
With their RRP of £230, you are going to be expecting top notch construction, and that is exactly what you are getting here.
As I said, there aren't many seams, but the stitching on those there are is neat and tidy with little in the way of stray ends.
The fabric also looks and feels to be highly durable. They are showing no signs of wear and tear from interaction with the saddle, which is normally the first place to highlight any issues.
The Istintos are right up there, price-wise, with other top-end shorts, but it's still competitive.
Castelli's Premio Black bib shorts, which George reckons are 'genuinely innovative bib shorts that feel like a technological leap forward' are only £10 less, for all of that innovation – with a price tag of £220.
And Velocio's Men's Concept bib shorts are another pair that scored highly, with Jamie calling them exceptional at £228.
Aerodynamic, second-skin-fit bib shorts can be had for a lot less, though, like the £150 dhb Aeron LAB Racelines.
If you want a form-hugging pair of aerodynamic shorts that deliver huge levels of comfort at any price, then the Santinis are a good choice, especially if you are a very competitive and capable rider. There are many high-performing shorts available for a lot less money, though.
Impressive performance and comfort once bedded in, all of which comes at a price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Redux Istinto Men's Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says, "Ultrahigh-performance bib shorts featuring aggressive aerodynamics and a defining, soft feel. Made of "Tattoo Effect" Fitter fabric for extra comfort. Finished with raw-cut bib braces, and for a pared-down design and a super-clean aesthetic. C3 multi density chamois with gel inserts. Idea for long, stylish rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fitter compression fabric with 'Tattoo effect' internal anti-slip honeycomb gripper
C3 chamois features protective shell and ergonomic 3Dsurface
Seamless elastic braces with new rear crossover shape
They size up small compared to many other brands, but follow Santini's size guide and you should be fine.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I followed Santini's washing instructions and had no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A high performance pair of bib shorts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit when on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Pad took a while to settle down.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're expensive, as highlighted by the likes of the dhb Aeron LAB shorts mentioned in the review, though Castelli and Velocio have offerings that aren't far behind.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I don't think I can justify the price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Difficult to fault from a performance or fit point of view, but a big outlay.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!