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Comfort is the key reason for investing in padded cycling shorts, and these Italian Santini Gara 2.0 bib shorts have kept me happy in the saddle for most medium distance events and rides.
Inside the shorts is Santini's GIT padded insert, and – odd name aside – it delivers a good level of comfort for shorts of this price. The pad – or chamois as it's often called in a nod to the leather they always used to be made of – uses two layers of foam with varying levels of density from 2 to 4mm, putting extra thickness only where it's really needed. Inside is a gel core, which provides a damping effect to any vibrations caused by riding over rough road surfaces.
The surface of the padding that contacts your skin is made from a soft microfibre material, and Santini has used internal stitching so there's no potential for irritation or chafing.
The pad is contoured so it fits flush with the body and the slim design reduces bulk, so it doesn't feel like you're wearing a nappy. On the saddle, it works well for short to medium distance rides of two or three hours, but on much longer outings I found the comfort dropped off a bit compared with the more expensive Santini Photon bib shorts I tested recently.
The bib shorts themselves are constructed from a Thunderbike Power fabric, which provides a compressive quality and is highly breathable, making them a good choice for riding in warm weather. The fit is very good – comfortable without being overly tight in any region – and the sizing came up well against rival shorts at this price.
The wide, mesh bib straps are comfortable enough on the skin, but I always tend to wear a baselayer anyway, and there's a mesh back panel to keep you cool. Grippy silicone leg openings keep the shorts in place without any discomfort.
At £80 they're not cheap, and there are plenty of competitors at this level, but good fit and comfort are worth paying for, and these are definitely worth a look.
Decent bib shorts with good fit and sizing, and a comfortable pad
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Gara 2.0 Bibshorts
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 says: "Evolution of our best-seller GARA bib shorts.Made with compact and breathable Thunderbike Power fabric,the Gara offers excellent breathability and light muscle compression.Wrap-around panel construction for a more confortable fit.Feauturing breathable mesh and a soft elastic leg gripper with silicone grip dots to keep the shorts in place.GIT chamois with anti-shock Twist gel core.Durable and super confortable.Perfect to be combined with any jersey,you will want to have them in all colours."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
GARA bib shorts. Made with compact and breathable Thunderbike Power fabric,the Gara offers excellent breathability and light muscle compression. GIT chamois with anti-shock Twist gel core.
There's a lot of choice at this price, and these offer good comfort and fit for the money.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Provide good comfort, with the gel and foam padding suitable for most ride distances.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good fit and well shaped Lycra shorts.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not quite as comfortable for very long distance rides as some.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
Santini gets the essentials right with these shorts and the fit, comfort and appearance makes them worthy of consideration.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.