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These new tights H2O tights from Santini are made from a fabric called Acquazero which feels like a normal fleece-backed Roubaix – warm, stretchy and highly breathable – the difference is that it’s very water repellent.
Don’t get me wrong, water can get through, but you stay much drier in these than you do in standard tights. On one recent ride, for example, it was chucking down intermittently and the rain was mostly beading up and rolling off. It soaked through the seams on the butt where the seatpad is attached fairly quickly but road spray on the lower legs didn’t get absorbed at all.
These don’t keep rain out anything like as well as a set of waterproof overtrousers, say, and after a while (the exact time depends on how hard it’s raining, obviously) you will start to get properly wet, but when it’s raining heavily you stay as dry as you would in light rain.
Plus, these are as comfortable to wear as standard tights. There’s no inflexible membrane in there and you don’t get any more sweaty than usual. So, on that ride I mentioned, I was out for two hours and it was raining on and off throughout, yet I stayed dry enough to stay warm and comfortable, whereas with normal tights I'd have been itching to get home in half that time.
The Gel Intech pad is good too. I’ve used it plenty in other Santini clothing and it’s among my favourites. At the heart of things you get silicone gel padding that absorbs shock really well while multi-density foam provides more cushioning where you need it most – in the perineum and sit bone areas. There’s no stitching in contact with your skin while rows of little holes in the antibacterial facing fabric provide extra ventilation. The whole thing is stretchy so it fits closely and it’s pretty slim. I like it a lot.
Most of the seams are flatlock stitched so you can hardly feel them, while well-designed panelling means there’s no rubbing around your knees. Even on five-hour rides I didn’t get any chafing or irritation at all. There are no ankle zips to make getting them on and off easier but we don’t mind that, and we found the ankle grippers tight enough to prevent any riding up without being at all uncomfortable. Two reflective logos round the back and more reflective tape sewn into some of the seams help get you noticed at night.
Rather than going for a mesh bib section, Santini have stuck with the same fabric for the upper so you get some extra insulation there, especially over your lower back, while the shoulder straps are wide enough to spread the pressure comfortably.
They feel like normal, comfy Roubaix tights... but with added water repellency. Well made with an excellent seatpad too.
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Make and model: Santini H2O Bib Tight
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?
• Unique High Stretch and Waterproof Aquazero Waterproof Fabric is Highly water resistant
• Even under prolonged tests maintains comfort, elasticity, softness, breathability and warmth
• The treated fabric is UV and Chlorine resistant and guarantees long lasting durability after repeated use and washing
• Reflective seam taping for low light conditions
• Gel Intech pad for max comfort
• World Exclusive to Santini
That's all reasonable. If you want to stay 100% dry, these aren't for you. But if you want to keep water absorption down to a reasonable level without taking a hit on breathability, they're great.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.