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Santini has used Power Wool for its Adapt Polartec Thermal C3 bib tights, a blend of natural and synthetic fibres designed to keep you warm yet sweat-free. It works really well and is very comfortable against the skin, although you take a hit in the pocket for the benefits.
We are seeing Polartec's name pop up on quite a few manufacturers' products lately, with some very good items of clothing as a result. Its Power Wool used here, a mix of merino wool and synthetics, has wool fibres on the inside, against the skin, and synthetic fibres on the outer. According to Santini, this enables the tights to stretch but keep their shape, helps with durability and provides quick drying times. (Polartec has more info here if you're interested.)
First up, they are very comfortable to wear – the wool is warm and very soft against the skin. Heading out for some longer rides over the Christmas period I was wearing the Adapts for up to five hours at a time and I never really noticed them at all. There are no seams in irritating places and the cut is great, so I had no bunching of material.
I like the way the tights come up over the bottom of your stomach to provide warmth and support, and the bib straps are snug without applying any unwanted pressure.
Santini says the Adapts work in a large range of temperatures and I would agree. On some colder rides I was perfectly comfortable down to around 3°C, while on days when it warmed up to around 13°C I was still feeling fine.
Riding hard at that upper temperature I did get warm in the top half of my body but my legs didn't feel clammy at all. The rear panel of the bib helps regulate that temperature once things slow down a bit – when paired with a decent baselayer and jersey, anyway.
On cold days with vicious windchill stinging my face, my legs felt toasty warm and I could continue to ride hard without cooling muscles starting to struggle.
The Santini branded pad has a few differing densities and the odd channel running through it to relieve pressure when sat in the saddle for a long time. It works well and I found it very comfortable. The padding is quite firm, so it feels like a supportive barrier between you and the saddle, helping to soak up bumps without completely blocking feel and feedback from the road.
The legs are held in place with nothing other than the elasticity of the fabric itself. It works a treat – they never rode up – although the ankle cuff is quite fitted so you need to be a little bit patient when pulling them on and off.
On each leg you also get plenty of reflectivity, but in a subtle way. It doesn't really show up in the daylight other than as a rainbow-effect logo, but when bathed in light after darkness falls it is quite striking, showing the legs moving and screaming 'cyclist!'. It's just a shame they only wrap halfway around the leg, as having reflectives on the rear makes so much more sense.
The tights are available in a good range of sizes, from XS through to 3XL, and the sizing is pretty realistic to the UK market. If you are a medium in most brands you will be in the Adapts.
Price-wise, at £215 they are very much at the top end of the market. This is Rapha territory, with the likes of its Pro Team Winter Tights II coming in at £210. Ash was certainly impressed with those, and they offer a bit of water resistance too.
Jack was also impressed with the Pearl Izumi Pursuit Hybrid bib tights, which again offer great weatherproofing and fit and for just £159.99.
That said, these are the bib tights I've been grabbing out of the wardrobe time and time again whatever the weather, and not once have I been disappointed. If you can find a decent discount somewhere, these are highly recommended.
Very comfortable and great at regulating temperature, but you pay for the performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Adapt Polartec Thermal C3 bib tights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says, "Made with Polartec's Power Wool series of fabrics, an incredible line of products that use a combination of natural and synthetic knits to produce highly efficent thermo-regulating, advanced materials; offering all the natural benefits of an internal wool structure, with its warmth retention and unparalleled moisutre management with sythetic counterparts that form the outer face providing quick drying times, shape retention and durability."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
COMFORT IN A WIDE RANGE OF TEMPERATURES
Perfect to face a variety of weather conditions and temperatures, spanning from frosty winter spins to the unsettled weather that can come with early spring rides.
Distinctive iridescent reflective thermo-adhesives details on the lower legs.
Poly and wool grid stretch with superior wicking action on the back. Extremely comfortable next-to-skin.
Very well made throughout.
Sizing is spot on with the guide and the cut is great: performance-orientated but without being too restrictive.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Just follow the washing instructions and you won't have any issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
In terms of performance they can't really be faulted. Comfortable, breathable and a great fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How comfortable they are.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Reflectives would be better on the rear of the leg.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are expensive, as highlighted by how many top-performing cheaper options I mention in the review, but they are very, very good across more temperatures than most.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If I could get them for around the £175 mark, then yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
On quality and performance they can't really be faulted. They are comfortable to the point of being unnoticeable and work superbly in a range of temperatures. They are expensive, though, and that along with little niggles like the reflectives not being on the rear of the legs, just knocks the score down.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!