Santini's Women's Tono Chromosome Jersey is a lightweight top that performs well in the hottest of weather. It's a striking design, although alternative colour combinations are available if it's too much for you. Its slim fit makes it ideal for aspiring racers and its functional fabrics will suit those wanting a pro-performance jersey.
The jersey is designed for warm weather riding – Santini says it has a range of 18-35°C – and it shows. I combined it with a lightweight baselayer at 18+ degrees and it was spot on; above 23ish, on an intense training ride, it works well on its own.
The rear and side panels are made from ultra-light 'Think Opacity' fabric, a mesh-like fabric that dries out as quickly as it wicks. I could really put the hammer down, sweat profusely and arrive home with a virtually dry back, which doesn't happen with many jerseys.
The front panel and sleeves are more traditional Lycra – no mesh effect – but they still do a good job of letting air flow through; I never felt like I was overheating.
The collar is spot on for the jersey's purpose: low and unrestricting. I kept the top zipped up most of the time – there are too many bugs about at the moment! It doesn't have a zip garage, but I didn't miss it – the collar sits low enough to avoid contact with the neck. If it were to get really hot, I'd resort to unzipping a little, but I certainly didn't feel the need in the recent low 20s.
I've not had any issues with the jersey 'swinging round', even with weighted pockets – the silicone logo grippers at the waistband do a good job of holding it in this direction. They won't hold it down lengthwise, though, which does create a small problem with the pockets... my only whinge about the jersey.
The pockets sit plush to the jersey, have an elasticated top seam and are quite deep. Pushing things into them requires you to pull the jersey right down first, so objects can then slide in smoothly rather than snag and drag on the material – a smartphone can really get caught up. On a short, intense ride it's of little consequence – pocket access is rarely required. On a longer ride, though, when you might want to check your phone, or replace some half-eaten food, it can be annoying.
Getting stuff out isn't as problematic but there were occasions when items got caught under the hem of the pocket. If you are used to being able to grab things from your pockets while riding it can be irritating – it was for me.
Thankfully, the zipper pocket is easy to reach and actually has a decent sized opening.
I tested a medium, and it's me in the photos. My chest size puts me in a medium on Santini's size chart, my waist, a small. The fit is worth noting, as it's different to many performance-orientated jerseys I've tested in the past, and noticeably long in the body. I found it very snug around the arms and chest but with an excess of material at the waist, particularly when on the bike. If I'd sized down maybe this wouldn't have been an issue, but I'm not sure just how tight the sleeves would have been then.
While the sleeves were tight, I didn't find them restrictive – even combined with arm warmers they offer even, comfortable compression. There are no silicone grippers necessary here either; they hold their position purely on a snug, comfortable fit.
Santini classes the Tono as a 'slim-fit' garment and I'd say it's designed around a boyish, athletic figure, so ideal for those with little difference between their chest and waist measurements (and who are potentially long in the body). If it doesn't sound quite right for you, some of Santini's jerseys are a 'sleek-fit', designed to be shorter in the body.
Despite being so lightweight, the fabrics haven't shown signs of deterioration. I even managed to catch my shoulder in a bramble while attempting to avoid a crazily driven oncoming Land Rover in some single track lanes, and there is absolutely no sign of snags.
The tab at the base of the zip works well to protect your shorts – I've noticed no piling or rubbing on any of the shorts I've worn the jersey with.
My only reservation with durability is with the stitching of the pockets to the main rear panel; the thin fabric looks strained if you overload the pockets.
Washing instructions are pretty standard: 30 degrees. It does need it after every use as it holds odours.
The vivid design will probaby appeal more to some than others. If you hadn't already clocked it, the detail is intended to bring to mind the female XX chromosome markers. Bright pockets are becoming a bit of a thing – the Croix de Fer jersey from Ashmei I tested recently was similar.
Whether you are a fan or not, they certainly serve a purpose in terms of visibility, and Santini has added two reflective tabs to boost things even further.
In addition to the black with contrasting trim that I've tested, the Tono comes in Pink, Tuscan Yellow and a pale Dewy Green.
At £90, the Tono is not cheap, although you can pay more. Rapha's Souplesse Aero will set you back an extra £50, but you might get a better fit in body length. I'd say Lusso's R1 Style Breathe Jersey is on a par with the Tono in terms of fit and performance, and it's £65.
If it's just a warm weather jersey you are looking for, and technology based on racing performance doesn't matter as much to you, you can get something significantly cheaper: although currently out of stock, Van Rysel's RR900 is just £35, while Funkier's Prima Pro is £39.99.
Santini has clearly used its experience with professional riders to create a functional jersey with a striking design and an athletic cut. Its price and fit won't suit everyone, but the Tono is a great jersey for comfort and performance in hot weather.
Outstanding performance in the warmest of weathers, though the cut won't suit everyone
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Women's Tono Chromosome jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Santini describes the Tono as an 'aero light climber's jersey'.
Santini says, 'Our most-popular lightweight and breathable summer kit, TONO is available in a women's specific fit for the first time in 2020. With mesh-like fabrics to help you manage punishing summer heat and designs that are anything but ordinary, TONO offers an elite fit for dedicated and demanding cyclists. Slim fitting for performance cycling and made mostly from ultra-light Think Opacity fabric, TONO is ideal for the hottest summer rides. TONO features design details that evoke the female XX chromosome markers and base colors in our unique women's color palette. 2020 TONO kits give our female cyclist's performance clothing that they can wear to define themselves on the road this summer.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Slim fit and raw-cut sleeves
Made of a combination of supremely breathable and light micromesh fabrics
Contrast colour triple rear pocket with an extra zipped pocket for your valuables
Reflective details on the back pockets
Made in Italy
In warm weather, particularly for intense riding, it's brilliant.
Questionable 'joints' at pockets on rear panel.
Will suit athletic builds and those who are long in the body.
One of the lightest out there. For comparison, those mentioned in the review are Lusso's at 120g, Van Rysel's at 134g and Rapha's at 120g.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy, 30 degrees. Do it after every use, it holds odours.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly; it's designed for hot weather riding and it works!
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Wicking and fast-drying rear panel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Clingy, impractical pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Mid to upper range. Not as expensive as Rapha's Souplesse Aero, but £25 more than Lusso's Breathe R1 and more than twice the price of Funkier's Prima Pro.
Did you enjoy using the product? For short, intense riding, yes, loved it.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very good at what it's designed to do – keeping you cool in hot weather. It does this without being uncomfortable or restrictive in anyway. My only niggle was with the pockets.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…