Santini’s Gravel Bib Shorts take the performance and fit of its premium road shorts, but adds easy-access storage pockets and much more durable fabric to withstand brambles and spills on rough surfaces. They might be a bit too focused on racing for some, however.
More and more brands are now offering gravel-specific clothing, usually with a slightly more relaxed fit or thicker cushion than their road line, but Santini’s Gravel bib shorts don’t follow that. At the same time as I was testing them I was also wearing Santini’s Redux Istintos, his top-of-the-line running shorts, and when it comes to fit, there are very few of them. The Gravels are cut close and also share the same C3 pad. These are definitely shorts for the performance gravel runner.
The pad is very good on the road, but even with its minimal thickness it still works on gravel when you’re riding fast with the majority of your weight on the pedals rather than the saddle.
A lot of my gravel rides are like this – 90 minute to 2 hour explosions, mixing up the terrain – and it’s on those kinds of roads that I’ve found the C3 to perform best. With minimal bulk, it lets you move around the saddle with ease when changing positions for technical sections, and there’s certainly no problem with the bundling of the gel padding.
Its size also allows for a lot of feedback from the ground, so you know what your tires are doing.
Santini says the C3 is an endurance pad for rides up to 8 hours, and after long rides on the road bike with the Redux Istintos, I can agree. But on gravel, especially if you take it a little easier, it’s a bit lacking in the area of ââpadding. It all depends on the type of driving you mainly practice.
As for the rest of the shorts, there is a lot to like.
For the main section of the shorts, Santini uses an exclusive Gabardine 200g / m2 fabric, which includes 25% elastane. It is thicker than that used in many road shorts, but not so much that it feels heavy or affects breathability. There is a lot of stretching and compression, which in my opinion has a good impact on muscle fatigue as the rides lengthen.
When you’re on the bike, the shorts hug your body perfectly, while the leg studs stay in place thanks to the silicone dots inside.
The material also holds up well to the added rigors of off-road riding. Some of my routes became overgrown during the summer months so the shorts got caught by all kinds of thorns and brambles as I made my way through.
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There is an odd pull of the fabric here and there, but far less than what you would get on a standard pair of road shorts. All seams also stand up to miles in the saddle.
Size wise, these Gravel shorts are smaller than typical UK brands. Santini addresses this in their size guide, so just follow that. You’ll probably need to go up a size or even two compared to the likes of Lusso, dhb and Rapha.
Personally, I would like the belly section to end a little higher for more comfort.
The straps are wide, which reduces pressure points, but they change material halfway so there is a seam on the shoulder. It didn’t cause me any problem, but maybe if you don’t always wear a base layer.
I often use bags on my gravel bikes, even on short trips, I like a handlebar bag and a saddle bag, but due to the terrain I often have to stop to grab something. With shorts like these, you can stash food or gel packets in the mesh leg pockets, or whatever else you might need to grab on the fly.
The pockets can feel a bit flimsy and like they won’t hold anything when the shorts are just hanging up, but pull them on and the pockets are taut against the shorts.
The back pockets allow you to carry things you would normally put in a jersey, which I found handy in hot weather when I could unzip my jersey for long climbs.
Also, if I only ride on the trails, I could opt for a technical t-shirt or a cross-country ski jersey without pockets. The pockets then become a godsend.
Priced at Â£ 169, the Santinis don’t come cheap, but they’re very well made.
It’s a bit higher than the PEdAL ED Odyssey bib shorts which I was very impressed with a few seasons ago. They cost Â£ 145 back then but appear to be around Â£ 153 now.
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Rapha’s cargo shorts cost Â£ 195, although they have a slight water resistance when the weather is a bit uncertain.
Overall I would say the Santini Gravel shorts are good, but not as versatile as some. If you are the type of rider who likes to beat the pace on rough terrain then these are definitely worth a visit.
Robust and comfortable gravel shorts for the performance cyclist
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Brand and model : Santini Gravel shorts
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says: “Our Gravel shorts are the perfect choice for long rides on your gravel bike or for any off-road adventure. Made with the exclusive Gabardine 200g / m2 fabric with 25% elastane with a diagonal ribbing design. typical dense, they have excellent abrasion resistance while remaining incredibly soft on the skin and guarantee a slight squeezing action.The front bibs are in ribbed elastic with breathable mesh back.Two pockets on the lower leg and two additional pockets on the lower back provide excellent carrying capacity to carry the essentials of your rides Reflective logos provide better visibility in low light conditions Elastic grip at the bottom of the leg has a silicone nest structure bee that guarantees a perfect seal and the C3 seat cushion offers maximum protection against impacts thanks to its gel structure making it ideal for long ues hours in the saddle. Designed to fit any jersey in our collection, the Gravel shorts are perfect for all your off-road adventures. ntures “
Tell us a little more about the technical aspects of the product?
Gabardine fabric 200 g / m2 with 25% elastane
Two pockets on the lower legs
Two lower back pockets
C3 seat cushion
Rate the product for build quality:
Rate the product for its performance:
Rate the product for its durability:
Evaluate the product for fit:
Overall pretty good, but would like a higher front end.
Rate the product for size:
They fit small compared to UK brands, but Santini’s size guide is accurate.
Evaluate the product by weight:
Rate the product for its comfort:
Evaluate the product for its value:
Is the product easy to maintain? How did he react to washing?
No problem following the instructions.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its intended purpose
Quality shorts for the runner, with extra pockets.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pockets carry a lot of kit in complete safety.
Tell us what you didn’t particularly like about the product
The chamois is not padded enough for me for more relaxed rides.
How does the price compare to similar products on the market, including those recently tested on road.cc?
They’re a lot cheaper than Rapha’s Cargo Gravel Shorts without saying too much about performance, and a bit more expensive than PEdAL ED’s Odyssey Shorts, which I’m a big fan of.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider purchasing the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A decent, versatile pair of bib shorts with excellent attributes for off-road riding, although they lack some of the versatility of others to accommodate more riding styles.
I usually drive: This month’s test bike My best bike is: B’Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I have been driving since: Over 20 years I ride: Everyday I would classify myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trial, commuting, club rides, sports, fixed / single speed,