The Santini Adapt bib tights are great for either side of deep winter, they’re very comfortable and very well made – but they’re also very expensive..
Work well across wide range of temperatures
Fabric includes natural merino
Made in Italy
By Simon Smythe published
The Santini Adapt Thermal Polartec C3 bib tights are designed for temperatures between 7°C and 15°C, according to Santini, but I would say they're warm enough for a few degrees below that. At the upper end of their range, since they’re so comfortable and lightweight, I wouldn’t hesitate to wear them as soon as shorts season is over, skipping leg-warmer season altogether. They're very versatile, as the name suggests.
Additionally, even though they’re not water resistant, they don’t hold onto water (despite the wool ingredient) and dry very quickly in-ride.
The C3 Endurance chamois is nicely shaped and sufficiently padded for long rides – again, the clue is in the name.
However, to break the £200 barrier they do need to be good.
Santini Adapt Thermal Polartec C3 bib tights: construction
Polartec Power Wool gives these tights a softer, stretchier feel than the type made with 100 per cent synthetic fabrics. The largest proportion of the tights – the legs/hips – is made with 21 per cent merino, so it’s more than just a token twill.
Around the waist is a fleece-backed polyamide-elastane mix, while the back is made from a panel of grey polyester/wool and seems aimed more at keeping heat in rather than letting it out, an approach that seems sensible since the bib section could double up as a base layer if you’re wearing the Santini tights in their upper temperature range.
The straps are raw cut – normal for tights – but they are stretchier than most. I was worried initially that they might not be up to the job of holding up the tights as they didn't feel seem taut enough (as you can see in the photo above), but once in the bike position they were perfectly tensioned and contributed to the overall ‘disappearing’ feeling of these tights. Once on the bike and pedalling, I was simply unaware that they were there – a sure sign they were doing their job properly and letting me concentrate on the cycling.
The C3 Endurance pad contributed to that feeling. It was completely unobtrusive – neither too mattressy nor too thin, and in the right place.
The rainbow reflectives at the bottoms of the legs are a big feature of these tights and are less subtle. Even if they're not to everyone's taste, they bounce light back incredibly effectively. Santini has positioned them more at the sides of the calves than the rear, presumably to bolster side visibility when passing a junction at night, which seems like a good idea as long as you're using them in conjunction with a rear light.
The overall fit of the medium was perfect for me (178cm, 69kg). The only part I would change is where the fabric meets the elastic cuff. I got a few wrinkles here, and would like the diameter of the ankle section to taper more before it hits the elastic cuff. To be fair though, someone with thicker ankles might not get the same wrinkling.
Santini Adapt Thermal Polartec C3 tights: the ride
As I’ve already said, the Santini Adapt tights simply get on with the job and you don’t know they’re there – not an easy task, since tights are in contact with your body from ankles to shoulders.
I put this down to the light weight and high elasticity of the fabric, but the separate elements – the legs, the waist, the bibs and the chamois – all complement each other and seem to be working in harmony. I got lucky with the fit as well, something which can’t be overlooked – apart from the wrinkly ankles, which obviously don’t affect performance.
As I also mentioned, the Polartec Power Wool is not windproof or waterproof, but I’ve ridden these tights in rain and found that they don’t get waterlogged and dry very quickly if they get wet. I was really impressed.
Durability also seems good. There are no particular care instructions for Polartec Power Wool despite the merino component, and they look as good as new after washing at 40° with other cycling kit, with no shrinking.
As for their value, £215 is right up at the top end of tights pricing. They’re just £25 less than the Assos Mille GT Ultraz, which might be the most expensive tights we've ever reviewed and £75 more than the Santini Fashion Vega that we liked a lot (the updated version is £179). Since they’re so versatile you ought to get plenty of wear out of them before having to don deep-winter tights, but it's a big outlay nevertheless.
Having said that, the quality of construction and materials are up there with the best – and they’re made in Italy too.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
And the vital statistics:
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