The women-specific Santini Wave bib shorts are at home on either race tracks or all-day epics, especially if teamed with the corresponding Wave jersey. The second skin-fitting shorts come with one of the best women's chamios on the market, making these hard to beat.
Breathable bib upper
Available in a range of sizes
Limited colour options
We all know that finding the ideal bib shorts is the holly grail of cycling apparel, but my ears instantly prick up when anything from Santini hits the market as its proprietary chamois are always bang on the money. So I hoped for good things when a pair of the women-specific Santini Wave bib shorts landed on my desk – and I wasn't disappointed.
The Santini Wave bib shorts are made from Santini's own Thunderbike Power elastic, a fabric used for several of the Santini range of shorts such as the all-black women's REA2.0. The Creora Spandex, a Lycra Power-based fabric, is designed to be muscle compressing while still breathable and lightweight, with the shorts weighing in at an impressive 164g (size small).
The high density of the fabric also makes it highly resistant to abrasions and gives a high level of coverage, making the Santini Wave bib shorts, according to Santini and Creora, not only non-see-through, but also including a reasonable level of UV protection (although the exact UVP factor isn’t stated).
Much of the leg of the Santini Wave bib shorts is given over to the very generous leg gripper, a whole 8cm of silicone-backed raw-cut colour block, designed to match the corresponding Santini Wave jersey.
>>>Best women's cycling shorts 2017: waist and bib shorts
The top half of the Santini Wave bib shorts is a classic polyester mesh T-cut bib, a simple central back panel splitting at the neck to create two over-shoulder straps.
Down below the Waves are fitted with a C3 Woman chamois. Santini says it's been constructed using a process called Carving Technology, which consists of digging (carving) two overlapping foam cores to reduce volume and thickness to create multiple densities without stitching. Two gel inserts are then positioned beneath the ischia (sit bones) which Santini claims neutralises vibrations through to the body. All of this adds up to a seat pad with a claimed ride duration of up to seven hours of ride time.
Pulling on the Santini Wave bib shorts they instantly fulfil the first promise of fitting like a second skin. The Thunderbike Power fabric does indeed feel compressing and thanks to the very generous raw-cut finish to the leg gripper they are also very flattering, with no 'sausage legs' making an appearance.
Always a person to throw caution to the wind, my first ride in the Santini Wave bib shorts was a ridiciously hot (around 30°C) 60km ride in the Cambrian mountains, west Wales. It's a ride that I wouldn't consider in many pairs of unridden new shorts, but my faith in the Santini Wave bib shorts paid off and the shorts excelled themselves.
Despite the rare Welsh heatwave, there wasn't a moment when I felt too hot in the Santini Wave bib shorts – the uppers weren't even noticeable, which is the ultimate accolade for bib straps. The shorts themselves, although dense and black, were never overbearing heat or sweat-wise, and despite no official UVP factor they did act as a great sun block.
As always, the chamois department is where the Santini Wave bib shorts excelled. Riding almost any other shorts for the hot, sweaty and mountainous terrain without a pre-ride test would be foolhardy, but with Santini I wasn't worried. Not once did I suffer any backside discomfort or friction rubbing throughout the whole ride. Santini really represents one of the gold standards in chamois design.
With fit, form and function nailed, there is a lot to like if not love about the £90 Santini Wave bib shorts. They could quite happily be a short-race pair and just as easily an epic all-day adventure essential.
The only downer is that being only available in two colours does slightly limit the kit coordination, unless you also invest in the corresponding Santini Wave jerseys.
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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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