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If you have plans to soar up some Italian mountains this summer, the Santini Tono Short Sleeve Jersey is a perfect garment in which to do it. Not only should it keep you as near as it's possible to be to feeling comfortable in such conditions, you'll look like a climbing god, too.
At least, I thought I looked the mutt's when I pulled this jersey on and zipped it up over my chiselled torso (it's not me in the pics!). It being Italian, you know that a Large is going to be no bigger than a UK Medium and no way did I think this little scrap of high-tech J-cloth was going to cover me; but as I slipped into it, the fabric opened out this way and that to accommodate me with ease. Looking at the Santini sizing chart, I probably should be in an XL (and I would say that Santini's sizing is therefore spot-on) but there's so much stretch in this that I didn't feel restricted at all, even under the arms. The Tono comes in eight sizes, too, so you should be able to find one that's just right for you.
What's more, the offset diagonal patterns and red-black crossfade patterning combine to break up your body outline and create the illusion of a waistline, even where there isn't one. Santini describes the cut as 'slim', which is not as tight as its 'sleek' (ie skintight) range; but given I was wearing a size smaller than ideal, 'sleek' is what I got, without detriment to fit or performance. Having lost half a stone this spring, the resulting look was a reward for my self-sacrifice.
That's enough posing in front of the mirror for now; to work. The recommended temperature range on the Santini website for the Tono is 18-35°C. How I laughed, then, to take this jersey out of its packet as, outside the window, the April sleet fell and a Baltic north wind set in that persisted for almost a month.
I asked the prod ed for a flight ticket to Rome to give this a proper test but I don't think she got the email. Nevertheless, I got out there and, with various combinations of arm warmers, baselayers and gilets, plus some high enough efforts on the bike, I was able to get up to a comfortable operating temperature. Those 4.5cm arm grippers work really well with arm warmers and the sleeves are long enough to prevent any gaps.
When I was feeling brave, I removed the gilet for some hill climbs and still felt good. Descending revealed just how well ventilated this top is – though the chill was not, as I expected, felt across the chest. It was around the shoulders where the cool air reached the skin, suggesting a high level of heat dispersal that should prove very effective when the sun shines. Having toiled over the Appenines in 35 degrees I know what an Italian summer ride feels like and you do not want to be over-dressed, believe me.
You may need to be careful about exposure to sun, though. Santini only rates this garment 2/5 for UV protection and the almost-transparent mesh and stretch that provides the excellent breathability may also leave you at risk of sunburn.
Be careful, too, about what you wear under it. I always like to wear a baselayer, except in the hottest weather, because I like something between me and my bibs; but what you wear will show through and I found sleeved vests made the tight-fitting arms ruck into the armpits. A sleeveless vest is probably ideal.
Santini still makes all its kit in Italy. The construction is excellent, as is the finishing and detail, down to the little SMS Santini hologram on the neck. The low cut of the neck means absolutely no restrictions in that area, even though the back of the zip pull is left exposed.
My one disappointment was in the fragility of the fabric. Something this light, stretchy and breathable is probably going to lack some robustness and so it proved, as after just a couple of wears I found a snag in the fabric that turned into a small hole very quickly. So, will this jersey still look good at the end of the season? Be careful with it, and keep it away from rough fabrics and thorns.
Otherwise, I'd be happy posing around in this all summer. They also come in yellow and a nice blue/white that should look very nice with my Italian steel road bike...
Summer top that's amazingly lightweight, stretchy and breathable but correspondingly fragile
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Tono Short Sleeve Jersey
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?
Says Santini: "The Tono jersey looks sharp and classy. An extremely light and breathable jersey, perfect for all your cycling challenges. Front and back are made of Sesia micro-mesh, soft, supple and incredibly breathable, while the sleeves are in Arctic Lycra; light and elasticated with inner silicone on the hems to allow a snug fit and to ensure maximum comfort and freedom of movement. In the back a large triple pocket is perfect to store everything you need and the reflective piping guarantees high visibility on the road. Wear it with the Tono matching shorts for a wow effect!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Santini scores the Tono SS Jersey out of 5 for:
ANTI-UV PROTECTION: 2
NIGHTTIME VISIBILITY: 3
TEMP RANGE: 18-35 degrees C
Available in 8 sizes from XS to 4XL
Beautifully made in Italy. The attention to detail is very good.
Although temperatures between 18 and 35°C failed to materialise in County Durham in April, I wore this a good deal with and without baselayers, arm warmers, gilets etc and, to my surprise, always felt comfortable. For a sleek, breathable warm weather top it's ideal. Even in cooler conditions it was great for hard hill repeat sessions and similar high-effort rides.
The very lightweight, stretchy fabric is also, sadly, quite fragile. I found a snag on the back after just two wears and this rapidy developed into a small hole. Treat it carefully and keep it away from Velcro etc.
Santini says "slim" but I would say sleek. Maybe I needed a size bigger. Anyway, I loved the close fit.
Looking at Santini's sizing chart, I should probably have been in an XL rather than an L, which might have made it a little less body-hugging, but there's so much stretch in this garment that it wasn't really a problem.
It's just like being naked.
Worn on its own, there's nothing not to like. Be careful how you match it with baselayers, though.
The last thing I look at when testing is the price. I actually thought this would be around £120, given the Italian construction and quality of design and function.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The lightweight fabric, as described above, is easy to snag and hole. Washing instructions warns "do not centrifugate" (spin), which is a bit of a nuisance but better than spoiling it. Also, keep it well away from Velcro in the wash and don't use fabric conditioner.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It made me look the biz which is always a good start. Comfort, breathability and ventilation were all top score, and even in a chilly north wind it seemed to keep the worst of it off my chest (it was across the shoulders where I noticed it most). Worked very well with arm warmers, thanks to the wide arm grips, less successful with sleeved baselayers which could make it look lumpy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
This looks amazing and fits really well thanks to the four-way stretch. The attention to detail is really good.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The frail fabric.
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
I have to knock a mark off for the snag in the fabric, which is a shame, but if you want a garment this lightweight, breathable and stretchy it's probably inevitable. Otherwise, I loved it – I think I'll even buy one.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking