As water-resistant foul-weather bib tights, Santini's Vega 2.0s are right on the money. They're reassuringly water resistant without losing a smooth fit against the skin. They're not quite warm enough for super-cold temperatures, but they're not as expensive as you might expect either.
When I'm looking for bib tights, my first priority is always comfort. Given that they encompass all your major moving parts when riding a bike, you want them to fit perfectly so there's little potential for rubbing, chafing or restriction of movement.
Even Castelli's very good Sorpasso IIs aren't perfect in this regard – as good as they are, the fabric used for the rearside of the knees is a little chunky for great flexibility, giving just a little restricted sensation while bunching up a touch.
Happily, I can report that Santini's Vega bib tights, even with their 'Acquazero' rain-repellent treatment, don't have any problems in this regard. The fit is superb, the cut equally so, with just the right amount of flexibility to keep them fitting perfectly to the legs.
That Acquazero treatment isn't just a temporary thing either. Like all treatments, it needs looking after, but I found that even after washing the fabric with a normal detergent wash with my other kit, it works very well. Water beads away really effectively in showers and road spray, and is only undone by really heavy stuff.
The good thing is, unlike many winter bib tights that use panelling or treatments on specific zones of the tight, Santini has used it all over the leg. It can do this because the fabric remains so soft and flexible, and – as far as I can tell – it doesn't affect breathability negatively either.
Santini says that you can use the bib tights in temperatures ranging from 5-18°C. Now, I don't know about you, but 18°C is summer shorts weather for me on a bike, but the breathability in colder weather leads me to think that you could conceivably wear them to something approaching that upper temperature if you really did feel the cold.
The downside is that these aren't really bib tights for deep winter – when you're looking at frosts that hang around all day, for example. They're just not windblocking enough for that (although the fleece lining is very comfortable), and that positions them as tights that you'd be likely to use as your first pair through autumn, and your last pair through spring, with a 'hardier' pair for the really grim, freezing stuff in the middle.
The bib section supports this idea too. It's the kind of upper I'd expect to see on summer bib tights, albeit with a higher waist offering thermal coverage.
Yes, it fills the middle section of the back as you'd hope a winter-style bib section would, but it's a light mesh fabric here, bonded to Santini-branded elastic straps (complete with textured grippers to hold them in place over the shoulders).
It's very comfortable and does a great job of distributing tension, but for staying warm, ultimately it's not the best – instead seeming to prioritise breathability and light weight.
Santini has even fitted flexible elasticated ankle cuffs instead of the usual fare of zippered bottoms. They adhere nicely to your sock and ankle profile and are very easy to get in and out of as the fabric is so stretchy.
One thing I would like to see is a sturdier panel on the rear section. As effective as the Acquazero treatment is, the cold of constant splashback can still penetrate the fabric, which makes you think that you're getting wet (even though, to be fair, you're not).
The chamois is a new GITevo model, which takes the old GIT chamois and adds a gel core to the mix. I've experienced a similar (gel-based) chamois concept with the 365 Mago 2.0 bib shorts, and found the lack of substantial foam padding to complement the gel a little restricting. The GITevo is another story, though, with lots of foam padding covering a smaller gel core – it's very comfortable, and ideal for longer winter rides.
Bib tights can vary wildly in price: Ribble's Nuovo tights are very good at £85, but if you have £250 you might consider Assos' LL.habuTights_s7. The Vegas sit in the middle of these two, towards the lower end, but perform very much like top-level bib tights.
The bottom line is that the Santini Vega bib tights have a lot going for them, apart from performance in the coldest of weather where breathability is the last of your concerns. If you're after winter bib tights for the seriously cold stuff, you might be better off looking elsewhere, but if you find yourself sticking to the turbo in that weather anyway, then £140 looks like a good investment as they'll certainly tide you over for the key parts of the season that you'll need them to.
Great bib tights for all but the very coldest weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Vega 2.0 Acquazero Bib Tights
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says: "Never fear rain again! Vega bib-tights will ensure protection against rain thanks to the water resistant Acquazero treatment that repels water, keeping you dry and warm. Maximum comfort and breathability thanks to the braces with transpiring mesh inserts on the back and jacquard seamless elastic on front.
"GITevo chamois with Twist gel core provides constant absorption of shocks, even over long distances. Try it together with the Acquazero Vega jersey."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Acquazero Rain Shield - Water resistant even after repeated use and washings thanks to the Acquazero treatment
- Anti-shock protection - Our new GITevo chamois with anti-shock Twist gel core provide unparalleled shock protection
- Comfort and breathability - Warm and breathable thermofleece construction with jacquard elastic braces and mesh insert at the back
- Made in Italy
It's very good, although I'd like to see a thicker rear panel.
They're great in everything other than deepest winter, where the breathability is just a bit much. Not an awful thing, though, while water resistance is very good indeed.
No real complaints, except maybe that rear panel – it might be subject to a lot of dirt.
They're some of the best fitting bib tights I've ever worn.
About right, while the flexibility adds a little 'get out of jail free' space.
Hardly the most important thing in bib tights, and these are just fine.
Excellent comfort from all areas, including the gel-based chamois with added padding.
£140 is good value for bib tights like these, although they're not for deep winter.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, and I've found that Acquazero treatment is resilient to normal detergent. Probably best to treat it with care, though, like all technical apparel.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable, water-resistant, flexible, warm...
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Bib section isn't thermal, rear panel could be thicker.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Bib tights can vary wildly in price, from Ribble's Nuovo tights at £85, for example, to Assos' LL.habuTights_s7 at £250. These sit towards the bottom end of the middle of these two, but perform very much like top-level bib tights.
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 overall score
Great performance away from the coldest of weather, with a competitive price tag and plenty of quality, they're a definite 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding