A comfortable pair of women's specific bib-shorts with an excellent chamois, but form doesn’t quite follow function and the grey piping loses the Santini REA 2.0 bib-shorts finesse to make these truly a classic little black number.
In a world of fluro colours and head-to-toe matching ensembles, it can be hard to find classic, yet high performance bib-shorts. So has Santini, with the REA 2.0, delivered the ultimate little black number that we all need in our cycling wardrobe?
It would be easy to assume that black lycra is black lyra - but not in the case of the Santini REA 2.0 bib-shorts.
The nine-panel short is constructed using a Creora Spandex fabric; the Lycra Power based fabric is designed to be muscle compressing, while still breathable and lightweight.
The high density of the fabric also makes it highly resistant to abrasions and gives a high level of coverage, making the shorts according to Santini and Creora, not only non-see-through, but also a reasonable level of UV protection (although the exact UVP factor isn't stated).
Santini has done away with any thigh restricting leg bands, running a fabric panel the entire length of hip to thigh on the out side, adding just an inner thigh silicone gripper instead.
With the addition of a raw cut finish the legs have minimal seams to overly compress thighs.
According to Santini, the polyester mesh upper and it’s Y-shape design makes the REA 2.0 upper breathable as well as lightweight, helping to keep the weight to a reasonable 190g.
The Santini REA 2.0 use the women’s specific GIL2 chamios, designed to follow female contours. The twist gel core is sandwiched between two thin layers of foam, which Santini says will absorb shock as well as always returning to its initial shape.
Two anti-chafing microfiber wings at the side are paired with an antibacterial and anti-irritation microfiber upper layer, and with all stitching internalised, should make for a very comfortable friction free pad.
There’s always some trepidation when donning a pair of shorts for the first time, so it was pleasing to feel the Santini REA 2.0 comfort factor from the outset.
The bib upper was instantly forgotten as soon as it was on, with no digging in to shoulders or pulling. The Y-shaped design wasn’t the most flattering without a jersey covering, but it does enable the front of the shorts to come up high, giving zero risk of a peak-a-boo tummy when off the bike.
The shorts were skin tight, and while the slight muscle compression was noticeable, although I'm unable to verify fresher legs and gluts as a result, I can confirm that I did feel well supported, without restricted movement or over compression.
The leg gripper worked well, with the shorts staying put, even when partnered with leg or knee warmers, without a smidgen of sausage leg, and the reflective detailing at the rear was a nice touch.
Creating the perfect balance between padding and flexibility can be a difficult skill to master, but its one that Santini continually delivers on, with the GIL2 being no exception.
As soon as I was out riding, I instantly forgot about the chamois, with not even slight discomfort or friction rub throughout the 60 mile first ride, or subsequent outings.
With the short fit and function ideal, its so frustrating to feel that the form lets them down. With the front (non-reflective) gray piping the Santini REA 2.0 just lose the finesse that a classic black pair would ooze, making these more of a 'finest' product as opposed to 'essential'.
It's fair to say that Santini has delivered a pair of shorts that tick the most important boxes for bib-shorts in that they are comfortable, with an excellent chamios, which for many makes the Santini REA 2.0 bib-shorts totally worth the money.
But for me the grey piping just takes the edge of the form and made it tricky to match with any jersey. If Santini do away with that the Santini REA 2.0 bib-shorts will be perfect and great value for the money.
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Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest-serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011. She has covered all things technical for both print and digital over multiple seasons representing CW at spring Classics, and Grand Tours and all races in between.
Hannah was a successful road and track racer herself, competing in UCI races all over Europe as well as in China, Pakistan and New Zealand.
For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won a 24-hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas.
She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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