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The Santini Lava Men's Winter Thermofleece Bib Tights are very warm and comfortable, with plenty of stretch in the fabric, and include a decent pad.
Santini suggests a temperature range of 0-15°C for the Lavas, which seems a little high given how warm they are. I actually used these in a windchill of -5°C and found they were perfectly warm enough.
This is down to the material used – a thick and fleecy fabric with a decent amount of stretch so it doesn't limit your movement. It makes for a very comfortable pair of bib tights for long, cold days in the saddle. Interestingly, the same material has been used for every part of the bib tights, which means you stay just as warm around your top half as you do the bottom, and there are fewer seams around the waistline so less chance of irritation.
Using this single material even on the straps means they offer more than enough stretch, and because they are fleecy and thick they sit really comfortably on the shoulders.
The back is also solid and warm, but also high-wicking, so it means your back doesn't get soaked in your own sweat.
I used these during the recent cold snap, with a jacket, long sleeve jersey and thermal baselayer on my top half, and found that I was perfectly warm enough all over. As I said above, at one point I used these in a 'real-feel' of -5 degrees without any issues, which makes me wonder about Santini's temperature range suggestion; I'd happily wear these below 0 and wouldn't consider wearing these anywhere close to 15°C.
I did wear them up to around 8°C and was slightly questioning whether I had made the right decision, given how warm they are, but they're also really good in terms of breathability and wicking, quickly moving moisture away from my body and keeping everything dry and warm.
For the chamois Santini has used one of its endurance pads, the GITevo. It has an 'Anti-Shock Gel Core', multi-density foam, and a seamless construction. I found it comfortable over several hours and would be happy to use this in a summer pair of bib shorts given how effective it is at wicking sweat too.
Some reflective elements help with visibility – two large, thick lines running down the back of the calf, an area of your body in almost constant motion so a good placement choice, with a reflective Santini logo alongside them.
At the bottom of the leg an elasticated cuff creates a secure barrier against the cold, which is always welcome in sub-zero conditions.
To be honest, there isn't much not to like here. Santini does claim that you get some kind of 'Lava Effect' when the material is stretched – 'the black surface turns a fiery hue' – but I didn't see this at all. And the marketing slogan of 'LET YOUR LEGS BURN WITH LAVA' doesn't especially appeal – it sounds more like a threat than an inducement.
Their rrp of £130 puts the Lavas alongside the likes of Shutt's VR Tourmalet Bib Tights that Stu tested recently; they're £129.99 and offer very similar qualities, although they have a better environmental pedigree.
They're £35 more than Altura's Icon thermal bib tights, which got a good review recently; they also have a DWR coating, but don't sound quite as warm, and the ankle zip isn't for everyone.
To sum up, I like these bib tights, which have kept me warm and comfortable in very cold conditions. When the only thing you can find to complain about is an odd tag line, you know you're onto a bit of a winner.
Very good bib tights – warm, stretchy, comfortable, and breathable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Lava Men's Winter Thermofleece Bib Tights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Totally new material design featuring 'Lava Effect': the black surface turns a fiery hue when flexed. Toasty thermofleece adheres to your body like a second skin, creating a microclimate to keep you warm on even the longest rides.
THE ULTIMATE THERMAL BALANCE BIB TIGHTS Totally new material design featuring 'Lava Effect': the black surface turns a fiery hue when flexed. Toasty thermofleece adheres to your body like a second skin, creating a microclimate to keep you warm on even the longest rides. Realized with our GITevo, a shock absorbing performance chamois with Twist Gel Core, it features double layered ankle cuffs to keep it always in position and an ergonomic cut on the knee. Hi-visibility reflective details at the bottom of the leg to ride even on the darkest road.LET YOUR LEGS BURN WITH LAVA
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Nighttime visibility 4/5
Temp Range 0/+15
Very well made, with strong stitching and good material choice.
They performed very well, offering warmth down to below freezing, plus comfort for hours in the saddle.
Early days, but they seem like they would be last a long time – with fewer seams and less transition between materials, some of the normal failure points have been removed.
They fitted me well; with the amount of stretch in the material it moulds easily to all the various lumps and bumps.
Sized up as expected.
The fleecy inner makes these comfortable and soft.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, I just chucked them in at 30 degrees and dried them on the line without issue.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well, offering warmth, comfort, and a good fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The material – it's comfortable, warm, and has an impressive amount of stretch.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing about the tights themselves, but 'LET YOUR LEGS BURN WITH LAVA' sounds more like a threat than a tag line...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Shutt's VR Tourmalet Bib Tights come in at £129.99 and offer very similar qualities, although they have a much better environmental pedigree, being made with recycled material. The Altura Icon bib tights are £95 and got a good review recently, though they don't sound quite as warm and the ankle zip isn't for everyone.
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
These are a really good pair of mid-range bib tights – warm, comfortable, and breathable.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.