First Look: Santini Unico bib shorts

A unique take on bib shorts from Italian brand Santini

If you had to strip down road cycling to its main elements – just the objects that are truly necessary – you’d end up with a handful of items. A bike, shoes, and a pair of bib shorts. 

Even a jersey might not make the list. The Morton brothers (Lachlan and Angus) showed this when they bike-packed through Australia and Colombia wearing just standard t-shirts. Sure, it’s less aero, but some may argue the extra drag will make you stronger and look cooler. So, you can pass on a jersey if you insist. But you cannot pass on bib shorts.

That is not only a matter of decorum but also of comfort. We all know too well the unpleasant feeling and effects of a long ride (or long rides) on an inadequate chamois. It just makes you want to do less cycling. That’s why bib shorts are one of cycling's must-wears. Furthermore, a high-quality pair will help you not only survive in the saddle but thrive. If your mind is not distracted by chafing and rubbing, you can get on with properly enjoying the ride.

Italian clothing manufacturer, Santini, is no rookie in this game. They’ve been mastering the subtle art of producing bib shorts and cycling wear for more than 50 years. And the latest results of their R&D, the Unico bib short, borders the realm of art.

The design is elegant and clean, but the Unico also looks like proper high-performance apparel – a feeling confirmed by stitching reduced to the bare minimum and the use of thermo-welded seams (which also provide chafe-free comfort). 

The fabric – a soft and stretchy compressive textile – is double-knitted and covers the muscles without any feeling of restriction. The other plus side of the Unico’s cut is a superior fit, with no movement around the thighs even without leg grippers (which many riders don’t like and can cause rashes). Santini has also opted to use their long-distance C3 chamois, which features a protective shell and an ergonomic 3D surface; for comfort, yes, but also to absorb shocks along the road.

Final touches like the iridescent reflective Santini logo on the lower thigh and the internally coloured laser-cut elastic on the bib (which match one another), makes the UNICO truly special. Its name sums it up: this is a unique bib short, with no comparison on the market.

Finally, although bib shorts are one of the absolute must-haves in road cycling, we usually need to wear a jersey too, of course. After all, we feel much better riding with a technical jersey than with a t-shirt. But we also need that touch of completion from a nice jersey – that extra spark that non-essential things can give to what we do. Thankfully, Santini has a vast collection to choose from and make the bib and jersey combo complete and truly unique.

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