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The Santini Unico Men's Bib Shorts are a primo option if you want to ride a long way without a second thought for your nethers. They use Santini's best seat pad, a luxurious fabric with almost no seams, and rock a glorious colour scheme... though it's inside the straps, so once you have them on no-one will know.
These feature a raft of elements aimed at minimising discomfort on the bike. The C3 seat pad (also found on Santini's more expensive bibs) makes a significant contribution, and features variable thicknesses with perforations and gel inserts under the ischiatic bones to help spread the load. I really rate it.
Santini has a scale for bib short comfort, and these it rates at '8 Hours,' which is the maximum. I used them for rides of close to that without giving them a second thought. Which is exactly what you want, of course.
Curiously, there isn't a single design of seat pad which works best, in my experience. I have got on well with pads with perforations and some without; pads with an almost constant thickness, and pads with notable sculpting. My guess is its the positioning and the type of foam which may be more significant.
In any case, I'd say the C3 pad is on a par with the best I've tried from Rapha, Castelli and the other heavy hitters. Crucially, the positioning is spot on – sometimes I find my sit bones too close to the end of a seatpad, but here there were no such issues.
The microfibre fabric is really lovely – soft and luxurious to the touch, with more stretch than traditional lycra. It reminds me of the standout feel the first time I handled Castelli's Mondiale bibs back in 2016, although the fabric here definitely has more stretch than those did. That makes them quite forgiving, and gives a bit more flexibility in terms of sizing.
In other Santini bibs opt for XL (it's Italian sizing, y'know, give me a break) for the longer legs, but here I had no trouble or constriction with size L.
There are very few seams – below the waist there is just one thermo-welded seam running down the inside of each thigh. The leg ends are raw cut with no silicone or other grippers. The stretchy fabric does a pretty good job of keeping them in place anyway, and the lack of seams really does give a 'barely there' feeling.
The bibs straps are also raw cut, so have no stitching or seams on their edges. I found them very comfortable with or without a base layer. At the back is a reinforced panel with laser-cut holes in it... it seems odd to make this section thicker just to cut ventilation holes in it, but it does breathe very well and I never had the feeling of sweat gathering between my shoulder blades.
The thing you notice immediately is the gorgeous, asymmetric colour fade on the inside of the straps. Of course, when you're wearing them all anyone can see is black. Santini should make a jersey using this colour, I suggest. Here, only you will see it, but you'll probably enjoy it anyway – I did.
Other details are pretty minimal. There's an attractive iridescent Santini logo on the right leg which is reflective, but there are no other reflective details at the rear. There are no pockets either, but then they're still relatively rare.
At £179 these are getting towards the high end, though they're not right up there – it's quite easy to find bib shorts at £210-£250. The MAAP Pro Bib 2.0 for instance is £235, and features a more traditional panel construction.
The Nopinz Souplesse bibs seem like a bit of bargain by comparison at £119.99, especially as Stu really rated their comfort and construction in his review, while the Assos Equipe RSR Bib Shorts S9 are even more expensive than the Santinis at £255, though they offer an unusual fabric and particularly high compression; our reviewer Jamie felt that if you could afford them, they were very strong performers indeed.
The combination of pad, fabric and minimal seams here really works even for long days in the saddle – these are as good as any bibs I've used.
Great bibs, suitable for long days out in sublime comfort. Only you will know about the nice colourful bits, though...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Unico Men's Bibshorts
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says: "High performance, supreme comfort, stitch-free cycling bib shorts ... The most comfortable bib shorts you will ever wear. Ideal for long distances."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Santini says they're 'incredibly stretch' and have 'braces made with strategy,' among other things:
CLEVER NEW PERFORMANCE FABRIC
High performance, soft feel, Italian microfiber. Incredibly stretch, it provides a light compression without being restrictive. So weightless and comfortable you won't feel you are wearing it. Raw cut finish for superior fit, the bib shorts stay in place while pedalling without the need of a leg gripper.
Stitching is reduced to the essential. The thighs feature thermo-sealed seams for chafing-free comfort.
BRACES WITH INNOVATIVE CUT
Braces made with strategy. Made with a special stretch and soft fabric and totally raw cut without stitching. Total black on the outside they explode in colour on the inside. The laser-cut design in the center of the back favors the evaporation of sweat towards the outside.
The C3 chamois is equipped with anti-shock gel inserts, protective shell and ergonomic 3D surface. Ideal for long distance.
Very nicely made indeed, with a very low number of seams and luxurious fabric. I found the pad placement spot on.
No issues. In theory, the thermally welded seams should be less prone to come apart than regular stitching.
Very nicely fitted. My personal preference (with a 34" leg) would be for a bit more length, but I know this isn't universally agreed upon.
The sizing is as stated. The material is sufficiently stretchy that sizing is less critical than with more traditional fabric.
Very comfortable - I wore these for some long days and never found myself in any discomfort.
These are expensive, but there are certainly more expensive bibs out there. There's not much I've tried that is this comfortable for less money, though.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well - I was happy using these bibs for long days out on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort, the lovely colours inside the straps and the smart but subtle reflective graphics.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not a lot - I'd have preferred slightly longer legs, but that's personal preference.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are high-end bibs: Santini offers a big range, and these are towards the upper end.
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 as good as any bibs I've used. The combination of pad, fabric and minimal seams really works even for long days in the saddle.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.