If you liked the look of the very comfortable Santini Sleek Plus bibshorts that I reviewed recently then you might be tempted by the matching jersey that we have here. Like the shorts, it's very nicely made with a focus on the performance end of the market, and the sizing is on the small side.
Dave reviewed the previous Sleek jersey from Santini last summer and was impressed with its fit and comfort. Since then Santini has changed the fabrics used but the Italian sizing is unchanged. I tested a large, my usual size in Castelli, Alé and Santini, and it was very closely fitted. As with the previous Sleek jersey, it is quite short in the torso. It's not a problem when you're on the bike, but I found I suffered from VBM (visible bib mesh) at the front when standing. That's not me in the pictures, by the way.
Once you're riding, the fit is pretty well dialled – there's no loose fabric and certainly no flapping. At the bottom of the torso there is a wide strip of stretchy, grippy fabric which is pretty good at holding the jersey in place. The front is made from a fabric called Kontatto, which is a fine Lycra-style textile. It is stretchy and feels pleasantly slinky against the skin.
The Plus fabric on the shoulders and back is perhaps more unusual and interesting; it has a pinstripe effect and when you look closely these pinstripes are almost transparent. Santini describes these variously as "ventilation channels" and "aerodynamic channels", but they certainly aid breathability and look quite cool too, I think. At the sides of the jersey are mesh panels which do a good job of letting further heat out.
The sleeves are stretchy and with more of the grippy material at their ends. Lengthwise they are more in line with tradition rather than the recent trend for longer sleeves.
At the rear are the standard three pockets, with an additional zipped pocket in the middle. As is sometimes the case with racy jerseys, they are rather on the small side. While this isn't generally an issue for the pros, I found it a frequent irritant not to be able to fit as much as I'd like, and it made me downright nervous to have my smartphone poking out the top of its pocket when I was in the drops. You can buy race-fit jerseys with sensible-sized pockets – look, here's one that we reviewed just the other day.
On the positive side, I liked the chunky zip pull which made it easy to grab when in danger of overheating on a climb, and I like the well-positioned reflective tabs on the hips. As with the shorts, comfort is really good – I've ridden long, hard rides in this kit and never given it a thought.
Would I buy it? Well, no, I wouldn't. But that is mostly because I'm rather underwhelmed by the look of it (and I found the matching shorts much too short for my liking). You can get it in other colours, and I think the white/black combo looks better than these colours.
At £99.99, it isn't an inexpensive jersey, but it is in line with other Italian brands. It's worth noting that Santini will do club kit; my club has the previous generation Sleek jersey and it's been a very popular choice.
Sleek by name, sleek by nature – a comfortable aero jersey but the small pockets are likely to be an annoyance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Sleek Plus 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?
Santini says: "Sleek Plus is the evolution of our extremely popular Sleek jersey, born from the valuable feedback of Team Lotto NL-jumbo athletes. A skin-tight, extra light race jersey, the front is made of Kontatto fabric, lightweight and breathable, while the sleeves and the back in innovative fabric Plus, with ventilation channels, that ensures maximum breathability and at the same time increases the jersey's aerodynamic effect. The anti-slip bands at the waistband and sleeve cuffs ensure an excellent fit and position at all times."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Santini lists these features:
Kontatto® fabric on the front and sides
Plus fabric with aerodynamic channels on the sleeves
Covered full-length front zip
Shaped silicone elastic on the cuffs and hems
The Italians do this sort of thing well – very nicely assembled.
Comfortable, breathable and aero. But the tiny pockets will be more of an issue for amateur cyclists.
No issues found in testing.
Does what it says on the tin. A focus on a skintight, aero fit. The fabric is quite stretchy, but some may want to size up.
It's Italian. The tested large size is a good, racy fit on me, although it's a bit shorter in the torso than I would ideally like.
Santini may describe it as "extra-light" but it's about the normal sort of weight for a race jersey.
Priced as what it is – fairly high-end Italian cycling clobber. No, you don't need to spend this much on a cycling top, but it's in line with competitor brands such as Castelli and Alé.
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
Offers a good blend of aero and comfort. In practical terms, the small pockets are the main issue – I was nervous about the fact that my smartphone poked out the top.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well designed for aero/comfort goal, interesting and high-quality fabrics.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A bit short for my tastes, tiny pockets, underwhelming graphics.
Did you enjoy using the product? So-so
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
There's quite a lot to like here as this is a comfortable and well-fitted jersey. Thing is – if you're racing, you're probably wearing club kit, and if you're not racing, you're likely to find the small pockets a bit of a stumbling point. At least, I did.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.