Santini's Mago bib shorts just might be the most comfortable bibs I've ever worn, and the minimalist styling should pair with any top. With 10 – yes, 10 – sizes to choose from, you can dial the fit too.
Bib shorts are that most difficult of things to get right for a cycle clothing manufacturer. Any discrepancy in fit will make itself known in the most intimate of manners, while the many and varied shapes of cyclists, their riding styles and – ahem – pressure/pain points mean it's nearly impossible to get it right for everyone. Which makes finding the perfect pair a minefield of trial and error, especially with manufacturers often changing production facility and methods year-on-year to keep costs down. In the 2017 Santini Mago short I have struck the jackpot of comfort, performance and styling.
With an RRP of £105 the Mago is towards the higher end of the market, but not overly so, and they're frequently for sale online for £80-90. They're very good value should your fit work out. This was a large on test – measurements say I'm on the borderline of XL for height and medium for girth, the Mago coming up snug but with no bunching or tightness around the shoulders. The fit for me was definitely close, bordering on compressive, although Santini doesn't claim them to be compressive, with the various sport science voodoo that entails.
The wide leg grippers with reflective detailing certainly stayed put without being uncomfortable, with or without leg warmers underneath. I prefer my shorts a bit longer above the knee, and the Magos fitted perfectly.
The only features to speak of are two small pockets with reflective trim in the centre of each thigh, measuring 7 x 5cm – just enough for a small energy bar, gel, or empty wrapper. The internal seams aren't flatlock stitched, but I never felt them so that's no issue. Likewise, the mesh shoulder straps did the job of holding the shorts in place while being completely unnoticeable.
Santini rates the Mago as suited for riding in 18-35°C – my test rides varied between 10 and 20, and it would be fair to say below 15 degrees I noticed the lack of insulation when riding in shade. Working hard at the upper end of tested temperatures there was no issue with excessive warmth or perspiration, and I have no reason to believe the performance would be any less once summer properly kicks in.
Across varied terrain, on rides from one-hour blasts to three-hour-plus efforts, on various saddles, the Mago shorts went completely unnoticed. This may sound like damning with faint praise, but this is the highest accolade I could possibly offer. I frequently forgot I was wearing them – a somewhat alarming prospect, but meaning there was no pressure, no need to move about for relief, no bunching, no feeling of excess or sub-par support, nothing. I just got on with riding the bike and feeling comfortable.
The pad is Santini's 'best-selling NAT chamois with NEXT gel core that provides a cooling effect and boosts circulation'. There's a fair amount of forming in the multi-density pad, which seems to allow it to flex to match your body shape without bunching in the compressed areas. There's also a myriad of holes to aid cooling.
The snug, athletic fit might not be to everyone's tastes, but with 10 size options to choose from you're likely to get it right – just bear in mind that they do feel reasonably tight to begin with.
At the current RRP of £105 these are a great option, although they are up against some stiff competition, including the Assos T.MilleShorts_s7, which Dave described as 'seriously impressive' and are a fiver less. Shop around online and you can find the Mago at £80-90, and for that I'd say they represent arguably the best value in the market.
Supremely comfortable, tasteful styling and a few neat features make these a serious contender for my favourites of the year
road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Mago Bib Short with Nat Pad
Size tested: Large, Black
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?
These are for anyone looking for great-fitting bib shorts at a reasonable price.
Santini says: "We are glad to introduce you our MAGO bib-shorts. Featuring a new elastic band with a bird's nest patterned silicone gripper, designed to fit your leg and follow your movements, breathable Y shaped mesh braces, and our best-selling NAT chamois with NEXT gel core that provides a cooling effect and boosts circulation. We wanted to make the MAGO even more special so we added two small pockets on the side of the legs to store your gels, bars, or anything you want. You will never want to take them off!
"Think about the smartest bib-shorts you could ever wear. One of those bibs that you would use every time you go on a ride because when you wear them, you feel like you don't need anything else. No matter what jersey are you going to wear, what bike you use, how long you are going to ride, it is always a perfect match."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Constructed with the elastic but compact Thunderbike Power fabric and with a strategic cut inspired by the our Professional team's bib-shorts, MAGO will surprise you!
A new ELASTIC band, designed to fit your leg and follow your movements, with a bird's nest shaped silicon gripper, so strong it will keep your shorts still, but so soft you won't even feel it. Our best selling NAT chamois with NEXT gel core...
Seams aren't flatlock stitched, but not really an issue.
Wow. Just... wow.
About right, for me.
Very good value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
After a month, they look as good as new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault them. Perfect.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit. It's all about the fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing. At all.
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
These are very hard to fault. If the price was a bit lower, maybe with flatlocked seams, they'd be a 5-star buy.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.