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Santini's Adapt Polartec Thermal Bib Tights are a comfortable and warm three-season cycling option, but they come with a high price tag.
The art of blending merino wool with artificial fabrics to present a best of both worlds option is one of the fastest developing areas of cycle clothing manufacture. Here Santini has teamed up with insulation expert Polartec to deliver some thermal bib tights incorporating Polartec's Power Wool fabric. The idea is that you'll get the insulation and fast-wicking comfort of merino, with the robustness and quicker-drying nature of artificial fibres to create the ultimate comfort.
And comfortable these Adapt bibs certainly are, from the moment you pull them on. The tights are a good, snug fit, although there was some slight bunching around the knees on me that was largely eliminated once on the bike, which is what really matters. In fairness to Santini, I can often fall somewhere between a small and medium, and the tights on test are a medium, so it could well just be down to my being between sizes. For clarity's sake, it must be said that there was no irritation caused as a result when out on the bike, and that included rides of four hours during which the Adapts performed extremely well.
That comfort level is helped by the fact that the tights grip well around the ankles, avoiding any riding up, while exerting very little pressure because of the nature of the material.
The straps also pass muster with ease, keeping everything in place without ever applying undue pressure to the shoulders.
The fabric comes up quite high at the front, which is excellent for keeping you warm as the temperatures drop. I rode in these in temperatures from 6-14°C and found they worked across that range with ease. Even at those higher temperatures I was never in danger of overheating.
The black material features a significant reflective pattern on the lower leg. Despite its size it remains relatively subtle in appearance until hit by car headlights, where such a large reflective pattern moving up and down in a pedalling motion should catch even the most inattentive of eyes. (They're positioned wrongly on the mannequin, and actually sit more towards the sides of the legs in reality, which is good for extra side visibility at junctions.)
The C3 pad used here seems to get the balance right between offering protection without excessive bulk, and its placement is excellent, allowing me to feel comfortable on the hoods and in the drops.
The big elephant in the room with these tights, however, is the £215 price tag. The fact that they are made in Italy will affect the cost of production, but we're in exalted company at this price point. Ashmei's Thermal Merino tights are similarly pricey, coming in at £228 with a pad. Stu certainly liked the unpadded version.
In their defence, I will point out that the Santini tights haven't gone up in price since Stu tested them over a year ago... but I recently reviewed dhb's merino tights, which, at £140, offer excellent value up against the Santini Adapts.
If you don't need merino, £200 will get you Chpt3's stylish Nanoflex Winter bib tights which incorporate water-resistant fabric to help keep you dry as well as warm, or £210 can buy you Rapha's DWR-enhanced Pro Team Winter Tights.
There's no doubting the Adapt Polartec Thermal Bib Tights are very good, but you are paying a high price for the privilege.
Excellent bib tights that will look after you from autumn to spring, if you have deep enough pockets
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Adapt Polartec Thermal Men's Bib Tight
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 efficient thermo-regulating, advanced materials; offering all the natural benefits of an internal wool structure, with its warmth retention and unparalleled moisture management with synthetic 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.
You can get very good tights for less, but these are excellent.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washing at 30°C caused no issues and the tights have retained their shape and fit.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The tights were a good fit and regulated my temperature well across a range of ambient temperatures. The pad proved itself comfortable on rides of up to four hours.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable on and off the bike, with a good pad and great temperature regulation.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
That price tag.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Ashmei's Thermal Merino tights are similarly pricey at £228, but I recently reviewed dhb's merino tights which, at £140, offer excellent value up against the Santinis. If you don't need merino, £200 will get you Chpt3's stylish Nanoflex Winter Bibtight which incorporates water-resistant fabric to help keep you dry as well as warm, or £210 can buy you Rapha's DWR-enhanced Pro Team Winter Tights.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Too pricey for me.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Santini Adapt Polartec Bib Tights are an excellent choice for three-season riding, regulating body temperature well across a range of ambient temperatures and offering excellent comfort. They are very expensive, but if you can afford them they're very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Genesis Equilibrium My best bike is: Look 585
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, The nursery run!