Santini's Reef Long Sleeve Jersey is a windproof and highly water-resistant top in a race cut that keeps you feeling comfortable in changeable weather.
The Reef, developed with Team Lotto-Jumbo riders according to Santini, is made from Tempo, a polyester membrane fabric. It's stretchy, especially across its width, so I didn't find the close and aerodynamic fit in any way tight. Quite the opposite, I found the cut to be one of this jersey's best features. Anything that doesn't flap is off to a good start with me.
While we're talking about the cut, I found the sleeves plenty long enough to keep my wrists draught-free and the dropped tail provides good arse coverage. The collar sits high and close so very little cold air can get in there when you have the water-resistant zip done up to the top, and a zip garage at the top stops any irritation to your neck.
Like other jerseys of this kind, the Reef doesn't completely negate the need for a full-on weatherproof jacket in your cycling wardrobe because it's water resistant rather than completely waterproof. The fabric itself keeps rain out well but the seams aren't taped so water can get in there.
If it's likely to rain throughout your ride you might be better off with a waterproof jacket, but the trouble with most is that they're not breathable enough to cope with the sweat you produce when riding at a high intensity. Although it's not at the top level for breathability, the Reef does a decent job of letting sweat vapour escape.
The Reef is more suitable for rides when the roads are wet and/or it's likely to rain sporadically. It'll keep you dry in mist, fog, drizzle and light rain, although heavier and sustained rain will eventually work its way through. This is a great top for racing in changeable conditions, but its use is by no means limited to competition. Racing or not, most of us would like to be free of the hassle of getting a waterproof jacket on and off (or even taking one with us) except when completely necessary.
Even when it's not raining, the Reef is useful in that it's windproof, and we all know that the ability to keep cold air out and warm air in makes a massive difference in colder weather.
Santini gives the long-sleeve Reef a temperature range of 5-15°C and I'd agree with that, although you'd need to be wearing a long-sleeve baselayer or a jersey and arm warmers underneath at the lower end of that range, and riding pretty hard – at least, I would; we're all built differently. You're going to get most use out of the jersey in spring and autumn conditions in the UK. (I tested the short-sleeve version in 2014, which I'd say is a little more versatile.)
Although available only in black, the Reef comes with reflective piping on the front and rear to improve visibility, and with a generous amount of reflective trim around the base and on the tail.
It's a relatively small thing but the Reef comes with only two rear pockets rather than yer regulation three. The middle one is missing. Now, I've spent years perfecting my pocket etiquette and that involves putting my little maintenance pouch in the middle one. Stick it in a side pocket and it pulls the jersey over, and that's what happens here, so my moan is that I have to rearrange things when I use the Reef. Admittedly, that's quite a personal complaint so take it or leave it!
Any water that does flow down the back of the jersey and into those pockets can take a while to drain out because of the waterproof fabric, but it does escape eventually.
To sum it up, the Reef isn't cheap, but the price is in line with many other jerseys of a similar type and lower than some – Castelli's Perfetto at £175, for example, and the £140 Hoy Vulpine Men's Fortress Jersey and Arm Warmers I tested recently. It's worth the money.
A very good water resistant jersey in a slim, non-flappy cut, although three rear pockets would be an improvement
road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Reef Long Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the jacket is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Santini says, "The Reef rain jersey was developed with Team Lotto-Jumbo to provide their riders with a comfortable performance rain jacket, to be worn on top of their team jerseys when racing. Made of the exclusive Tempo breathable membrane fabric, the reef jersey has an aerodynamic fit and follows a strategic cut with a longer back to protect you from rain and spray from the road. The reflective trim at the base of the jacket, and the line of reflective piping along the front and back, make this jersey ideal for safer riding in the dark. Reef is ideal for mild rainy days and will quickly become one of your favourite pieces."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Santini lists these features:
* HIGH VISIBILITY
Insert and refracting profile for maximum safety in the dark
* HYDRO - REPELLENT
Time fabric, lightweight, breathable, windproof and water-repellent
* STRATEGIC RACE CUT
Longer in the back for a better fit and performance when in tuck position
It's a lot cheaper than some of the opposition.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
You put it in the machine at 30°C - simple.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does a really good job. It's not quite at the top level for breathability but the cut and water resistance are great.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The slim but not tight cut and the water resistance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I would really prefer three rear pockets rather than two.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? The price makes it definitely one to consider.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The long-sleeve version of the Reef doesn't have quite as much versatility as the short-sleeve one with water repellent arm warmers, but it's still a very good product at a not-outrageous price.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.