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The Santini Unico Women's Shorts are designed for long-distance riding, and provide exceptional comfort and a second skin feel. They feature Santini's top-of-the-range seat pad and silky soft fabric with minimal seams. The breathable mesh panel on the bibs might make those mid-ride toilet stops more challenging, but otherwise there's little to fault here.
For more options at various prices, check out our guide to the best cycling bib shorts.
The shorts have a number of features aimed at minimising discomfort on the bike, and are designed for long-distance road riding, though they're great for any type of riding.
They're made from Italian microfibre fabric, which is luxurious and soft to the touch. As well as being exceptionally comfortable, the fabric offers light compression without being restrictive or pinching anywhere; it offers more stretch than traditional Lycra and really did feel like a second skin – although one drawback of the silky soft fabric is that it was slightly slippery on some saddles.
There are very few seams, and they are thermo-welded to improve comfort. The shorts didn't chafe or pinch anywhere.
The leg ends are raw cut with no grippers, making them incredibly comfortable and giving a 'barely there' feeling. To my surprise, they didn't ride up at all when I was pedalling, the raw-cut finish and stretchy fabric keeping them in place without any restrictive compression, even when I got sweaty.
Up top, the bib straps are crossed at the back and sit comfortably in place.
I found the breathable mesh panel at the front worked well instead of a baselayer, although it does mean mid-ride pit stops aren't as easily negotiated as with those that offer 'easy-pee' designs, such as the Assos Women's UMA GTV Bib Shorts C2 that Suvi tested last year.
The mesh panel of the Unicos would make this difficult, but personally I'm happy to sacrifice this functionality for improved comfort.
The chamois is perhaps the most important part of a pair of bib shorts, and these feature Santini's top-of-the-range seat pad – the C3W – which has ischiatic shock-absorbing gel inserts and an ergonomic 3D surface.
I highly rate it. I might have already mentioned it (!) but I found the shorts extremely comfortable, and used them for rides of around three to four hours without giving them a second thought.
The size range is impressive – the shorts are available in nine sizes, from XXS-4XL. I am normally a small in cycling kit and the size smalls on test fitted me perfectly, with no constriction or troubles with the length of the bibs.
I found the leg length good, but just be aware they are on the shorter side – something to consider if you like long shorts.
The attractive iridescent Santini logo on the right leg is reflective, but the shorts could really do with a few more reflectives on the back.
We don't usually talk about the packaging, but receiving these bib shorts is a pleasant experience as they come in a zip-up faux leather pouch which could be used to protect them while travelling to races or to hold other cycling goodies.
At £169 these shorts are certainly not cheap, but they aren't at the very top. Those Assos Women's UMA GTV Bib Shorts C2 I mentioned earlier, for example, now cost £215 – though they do have that easy-pee design.
You can get cheaper options, though – Lusso's Comfort Break Bibshorts, for example, are £100 and Caroline rated them highly for comfort.
These shorts are excellent, and I was unaware of them when riding. The combination of pad, soft fabric and minimal seams mean they really feel like a second skin. Overall, their great performance, fit and comfort make them ideal for long-distance riding.
Super comfortable bib shorts with an excellent chamois, suitable for long days out
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Unico Womens Shorts
Size tested: Small/Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says: "High performance, supreme comfort, minimal stitching women's bib shorts" that are "designed for long distance road riding, but great for anything".
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Santini says, "this is a game-changer performance bib-short, featuring minimal stitching and innovative grip-less fabric technology for a second-skin weightless feel."
CLEVER NEW PERFORMANCE FABRIC
Made of a high performance, soft feel, Italian microfiber. Incredibly stretch, it provides a light compression without being restrictive. So weightless and comfortable you won't feel you are wearing it. Raw cut finish for superior fit, the bib shorts stay in place while pedaling without the need of a leg gripper.
Stitching is reduced to the bare minimum for chafe-free comfort.
INNOVATIVE BIB CUT
Strategically cut bib, constructed with a light, crossed at the back and with a light and breathable mesh panel on the front.
Featuring our top of the range C3W chamois, with ischiatic shock absorbing gel inserts and ergonomic 3D surface. Designed for long distance. Anatomically cut for women.
Distinctive iridescent reflective logo on the lower legs for high visibility in dark conditions.
Size Small - 163g
9 sizes - XXS to 4XL
Very nicely made with luxurious-feeling fabric and minimal seams.
Fitted me well with no constriction or issues with the length of the bibs. The shorts are perhaps on the shorter side but I don't mind this.
It's great that there is such a wide size range from XXS-4XL. I am normally a size small in cycling kit and they were as expected. The material is sufficiently stretchy so sizing is less critical than with more traditional fabric.
Extremely comfortable with no chafing or pinching.
They are on the expensive side, but there are certainly more expensive options out there (though some of those do feature an 'easy pee' system).
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They are easy to wash and don't take long to dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They were very comfy on long rides, as intended. I used them for 3- to 4-hour rides without giving them a second thought.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort and weightless feel and the iridescent Santini logo on the leg.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They aren't cheap, but there are plenty more options that are much more expensive, though some of those do feature an 'easy pee' system. For the comfort and fit, I would say these are worth the money.
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 shorts are excellent. So good I was unaware of them when riding. Overall great performance, fit and comfort make them ideal for long-distance riding (or any length of riding!)
About the tester
I usually ride: specialised tarmac sl6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.
Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…