Last year I was lucky enough to meet three impressive women – Monica and Paola Santini, from Santini Maglificio Sportivo, and one of their sponsored Australian athletes, Queen of the Track living legend Anna Meares.
The Santini sisters were in Australia for the Santos Tour Down Under, which is where they launched Anna’s signature Santini kit, which was getting a huge amount of attention.
After the Tour Down Under, the sisters flew to Victoria where they shot the following season’s brochure (on the spectacular Arthur’s Seat). I was pretty impressed that the sisters had made a decision not to source model athletes for their brochure shoot. Instead, they’d put a national call-out to everyday athletes who were interested in participating. It was a great idea, and as a result they got real-life age grouper riders (be they cyclists, triathletes or outdoor adventurers) modelling their gear. The brochure not only put Australia’s best foot forward in terms of stunning imagery, but it also showcased athletes to whom the majority of us could relate, versus ‘untouchables’ who looked like physical perfection us mere mortals can’t reach.
Anyway – all that to say since my (brief) involvement with all three women, I’ve been impressed by Santini.
Santini – the heart and soul
Two minutes with either Santini sister – or anyone who works with the family, for that matter (and by family they mean the business) – and one thing is clear…
It’s all about passion for their brand; passion for family, for country, for heritage, for quality, for style… They’ve been adamant to keep the business in Italy, where it was founded by the sisters’ father, Pietro Santini in the mid 1960's. All design and manufacturing remains in Italy, which is a massive achievement in a day and age of globalization and drive to save in every cent of the dollar.
I was pretty happy to discover I’d get to ride around the Victorian Alps trying out some Santini kit. I tried different kit each day.
Heading Up Falls Creek the weather was surprisingly good, so summer kit was just fine. I chose the Anna Meares signature kit – aero bib short in coral (small) and the matching jersey, but in an x-small size. I also wore standard Santini SMS branded black socks and the SMS sleek gloves. I also packed – and later briefly wore – the black x-small Guard Rain jacket. I didn't notice the kit at any point during the climb, which is my way of saying it was pretty much the perfect fit. Nothing bothered me, nothing was uncomfortable, nothing felt like it was constantly riding up or down and needed adjusting. It was all seamless – literally.
That’s a point of pride for Santini in that paddings are handmade. When it comes to features such as the chamois, they stitch in curves and depressions from the inside so that seams and skin don’t make contact. Anyone who’s ever spent time in sub-par kit, and come out of it looking pretty red and raw, knows just how crucial such quality is.
The kit is made from ‘Lycra Thunderbike’ fabric, meaning it delivers light compression on hard-working muscles. The side panels made of stretch mesh help the bibs breath. All big ticks, for sure, but the other stand-out for me was the look.
It rocked, especially from the back.
I was a big fan of how Santini had worked to turn the breathable panels into really cool circular designs that gave the kit an inimitable look. I’m always on the lookout for stylish women’s kit that doesn’t look like everyone else’s (and doesn’t look like a shrunken version of men’s kit) and this delivers. Along with the gloves (and sleek is a top name – they really were like a second skin wrapped over my hands; no bulkiness and no straps) the overall ensemble makes for fast-looking, stylish, feminine kit. I’m a genuine fan!
I should also mention that as we got to the peak of Falls Creek the temperature really dropped, so I took out the Guard Rain jacket. Although it didn’t actually rain on us when were riding, it did rain later on when we were outside. The jacket was great. It was water proof but very wind proof as well, to the point I had to take it off after continuing the Falls climb as I got too warm! Another note on design here, too, with the tapered wrists and inside honeycomb patterned lining – very happy with that!
When climbing Buffalo the temperature was a little cooler, so I opted for the Anna Meares ¾ knicks in small and what I’d call more ‘everyday’ small women’s riding jersey in red.
I can’t fault any items from this ensemble other than to say my personal preference lies with the aero gear I wore going up Falls; the design is a lot more dynamic and catchy and just suits what I’d normally gravitate towards. I will say however that the chamois in the ¾ felt a lot more pronounced than it did in the bib kit. Sitting in the saddle of course it posed no problem – it just made itself felt when I was off the bike and walking around.
Finally – and on the most superficial note of all – both kit ensembles went down a treat with the Wilier Cento Uno Air. It felt like an ode to Italy direct from the Victorian Alps!