The Santini Photon 3.0 3/4 jersey is a close-fitting lightweight jersey with a high level of breathability and three-quarter length sleeves that are designed to improve aerodynamic efficiency. If those three-quarter sleeves don't do it for you, the same jersey is available with short sleeves.
First of all, those three-quarter length sleeves. They're designed 'for a greater aerodynamic effect and UV protection', according to Santini.
UV protection? They cover up your arms more, so that's pretty much indisputable.
Aerodynamic effect? We've not tested this jersey in a wind tunnel so I can't give you a definitive answer, and we've not heard of any three-quarter length sleeve wind tunnel testing (let us know if you have), but any advantage is going to be marginal.
Santini describes the Photon as a 'second skin' fit. No kidding! I take either a medium or a large jersey, depending on the brand. I took a large here – correct for my chest size according to Santini's size chart – and it fits closely everywhere. It's a squeeze to get this jersey on so the fabrics are permanently under slight tension resulting in no flapping and hardly any wrinkling – which, of course, is exactly what's intended.
The collar is as close fitting as the rest of the jersey with a circumference of just 34cm. That means that it's slightly stretched when I have the zip done up to the top. I guess that could feel uncomfortable if you have a broad neck.
The ends of the sleeves, like the waist, are held in place by little silicone dots. I found these to work really well, especially the sleeve ones. I did wonder whether the sleeves would start to edge northward when my arms got sweaty but they've stayed in place perfectly throughout testing.
The Photon is made mostly from a fabric called Artico which is a polyester/elastane mix. It's very stretchy lightweight stuff that breathes well and dries super-fast.
The sides and underneath the arms are different; they're made from a lightweight mesh fabric that's 'enriched with antibacterial and anti-odour carbon fibre'. They certainly let air flow in and out but, as usual, they're minging by the end of a sweaty ride.
You get three pockets in the lower back, the tops of the ones on the sides slightly slanted for easier access. Reflective binding at the top of the pockets helps with nighttime visibility.
The front zip is high quality and flaps at the top and bottom prevent it scratching your neck or shorts.
Value? Well, £120 isn't cheap, but it's not crazy-expensive for a top-end jersey, and I'd say the performance justifies the spend. (It's also available for less online, as you can see from the links below.)
Overall, the Photon is lightweight and breathable and comes in an extremely close fit that isn't going to be right for everyone. If you're happy with that, this is a really good performance-orientated jersey.
Very good lightweight and breathable performance-orientated jersey in a close fit that won't suit everyone
road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Photon 3.0 jersey with 3/4 sleeves
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product 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?
This jersey is best suited to racing or at least serious training rides.
Santini says this: "A second skin jersey offering incredible lightness and breathability with 3/4 length sleeves for a greater aerodynamic effect and UV protection. Made of Artico fabric and enriched with antibacterial and anti-odour carbon fibre inserts on the sides, Photon 3/4 is equipped with anti-slip grip on the sleeve cuffs and waistband to keep it always in position. At the rear, the triple pocket allows to carry with you all you need and the SMS reflective logo ensures maximum visibility and safety on the road in the dark.
1 3/4 SLEEVES - Longer sleeves for maximum aerodynamics and to protect the skin from UV rays
2 BREATHABLE AND LIGHTWEIGHT - Made of Artico fabric, with cooling effect and with inserts in lightweight antibacterial and breathable carbon fiber
3 GREAT FIT - Elastic and silicone grippers on the waistband and sleeve cuffs for enhanced fit
4 TESTED BY THE PROS - In collaboration with the professional athletes of the Lotto NL- Jumbo team
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Santini says this about the Artico fabric: "Artico is a new fabric made from polyester microfibres. It's soft to the touch, has two-way elasticity, is breathable and dries quickly. Its structure makes it a very compact material on which it's easy print sharp images with no blurring."
It's designed to be a "second skin" fit, and that's what you get. It's close-fitting verging on tight. If that's not what you're after, look elsewhere.
It is as described on Santini's size chart: https://www.santinisms.it/en/ss17mantops/photon-30-aero-jersey-629.html
It's not cheap but it's not crazy-expensive for a top-end jersey.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It goes in the machine with the rest of your cycling stuff and comes out smelling fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. It's designed to be close fitting, lightweight and breathable, and it is.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The silicone grippers hold the sleeves in place perfectly. I like a non-flappy fit too, although this is taking it to the extreme!
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fluoro yellow doesn't do it for me! It's available in black too.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
£120 is a lot to pay for a jersey (at least, it's a lot to pay for a non-foul-weather jersey) but the Photon is a high-end option that puts in a performance to justify the spend.
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 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight 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.