The Santini Reef is a windproof and water-repellent short sleeve jersey for keeping you dry in drizzly conditions without the need to resort to a full-on waterproof jacket.
Many performance-orientated clothing manufacturers have a jersey a bit like this in their range now following the massive success of Castelli's Gabba. As well as responding to the market, that's partly because clothing sponsors were getting so fed up with their riders using Gabbas with the logos blacked out that they've all started making their own versions.
The idea is pretty simple. This is a water-repellent jersey that's stretchy enough to fit closely. You don't get the same level of waterproofing that you do with a jacket with taped seams, but the Reef doesn't flap around like most jackets so it's more aerodynamically efficient.
Santini say that the Reef has been developed with Team Belkin and that it is designed to be worn over the top of a long sleeve winter jersey or over a short sleeve jersey with arm warmers. I've used it both ways and also over the top of just a base layer, with arm warmers. It's a little lighter than a Gabba and a little heavier than the Craft EB Weather Jersey that we reviewed earlier in the year.
The Tempo three-layer fabric (also used for Santini's Anna Meares Signature Series Blackwater women's jacket) comes with a hydrophilic membrane. It stops rain very well while the full-length front zip is highly water resistant to keep ingress through there to a minimum. That zip has a large puller that makes for easy use even with gloved fingers, and it stays put wherever you position it if you want to let some extra air inside.
Water can gradually creep in through the seams, as it can with all jerseys of this kind, and it can soak through the elasticated anti-slip cuffs too. You obviously don't get any protection for the lower part of your arms either, so you can't really compare the level of weatherproofing on offer here to that provided by a waterproof jacket, but you can use the Reef with Santini's H20 water repellent arm warmers. It will help to keep you dry in showery weather and it's more than capable of keeping road spray out. The generously extended tail really helps on that score.
The other thing to bear in mind here is the breathability. That depends on the weather conditions and the intensity at which you're riding, of course, but the Reef can cope with a reasonable amount of sweat. Of course, you don't get the breathability of an everyday jersey and the atmosphere can get damp inside if you ride hard in warmer weather, but it'll keep the humidity down to a decent level in most cooler conditions.
In terms of fit, the Reef is a little larger than a normal jersey – it has to be if it's intended to go over a long sleeve winter jersey. We have a size medium here and it's a similar size to a large Castelli Gabba. The fact that there's inherent stretch in the fabric means you can get a close fit without the jersey feeling uncomfortably tight. I found the neck (39cm/15.4in, size medium) to be close fitting enough to keep the breeze our when worn over another jersey (a little looser when worn without a jersey underneath, obviously).
Santini have gone with two rather than three pockets in the lower back, leaving a small gap down the centre. That means you get slightly less storage space than usual, although you'll be able to use the pockets in your jersey underneath too, if you have one on. Any water that does flow down into those pockets can take a while to drain out because of the waterproof fabric, but it doesn't slosh around in there forever.
There's a lot of reflective material included here to help keep you safe, both at the front and especially at the rear where you get two large panels beneath the pockets.
Overall, this is a strong rival to the Gabba. It's really difficult to split them in terms of performance and the Reef is a tenner cheaper. If you get the chance, try them both and go with the one that fits you best.
Windproof, water-repellent short sleeve jersey/jacket for keeping you dry when you don't want to resort to a full waterproof
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Reef rain jacket with short sleeves
Size tested: medium
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?
Santini say, "The Reef rain jersey works like a comfortable performance rain jacket to be worn when racing on top of their long sleeve winter jersey or their short sleeve team jersey with arm warmers. Made of the exclusive Tempo membrane fabric, light, breathable, wind-proof and water-repellent, the Reef jersey has an aerodynamic fit and a strategic cut, longer on the back with reflective trim. Water-proof zip and the elasticated anti sliding Lycra band on the cuffs."
They list these features:
* Aerodynamic fit and strategic cut for optimum performance
* Specially designed for wear over long sleeve winter jerseys
* Waterproof full-length zipper and elasticated anti-slip cuffs
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does exactly what it's supposed to, the fabric keeping the water out while sitting close to the body to avoid flapping. The close fitting cuffs are good too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fabric is great and there's plenty of reflectivity.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
An excellent product for performance-minded riders. If you want the best waterproofing, take a waterproof jacket with taped seams, but this top balances waterproofing against a close fit and breathability. You probably won't stay 100% dry if you wear this in the rain, but it'll keep a lot of rain out while letting a lot of sweat vapour escape so the result is that, in the right conditions, it will keep you very comfortable.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
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.