What's Cool In Road Cycling

Let’s Do the Twist – Santini Twist Gel Pro

Now I may be biased and easy to please because some of the shorts in my collection are older than the freshman students in my class and run me the risk of getting arrested for indecent exposure every time out, but nothing made me happier than pulling a pair of Santini Twist Gel Pro Shorts out of my birthday mail from the Pez…

Santini is a company that has been a steady force in clothing Euro-pros for many years. Therefore, they have both the technical background and the all-important Euro styling down pat. Evidence of this is in their latest top-end pair of shorts, the Twist Gel Pro.

Some people love bib shorts and others can’t stand them. Put me firmly in the former camp. I’ve never liked the way the waistband on traditional shorts always gives you that tourniquet feeling, especially on a hot day. Sure bib shorts make answering the call of nature a bit more challenging. But on the flip side, they also prevent plumber’s crack! Style points aside, it also means that cold drafts won’t sneak down your back on cold days. Note the airy mesh in the bib portion for maximum breathability. The lycra material is also super comfy without being overly grippy, and hasn’t had the problems other shorts do of trapping a lot of sweat and moisture. And for the Cipollini crowd out there concerned about your tan lines, they come in regular or Pro-Cut versions, the latter featuring a 3 cm shorter hem.

This is one comfy chamois, and there’s room for your climber, your sprinter, and your leader!

Note the nice design of the chamois. Its design is generous where the sit-bones meet the saddle, but nice and narrow along the perineum (middle) part and the front. This avoids the “Big Boy Diaper” feeling, but yet I have found no chafing of your inner thighs against the saddle. The little “speed” holes in the chamois also help to ventilate things down below, while the grippy lycra on the outside of the chamois helps to keep you from sliding around on the saddle.

The main piece of technical innovation Santini brings to this pair of shorts is the Twist Gel chamois. Gel has had a somewhat dubious history in cycling components and clothing. They may work well for some applications such as gloves, but they’ve been horrendous in other applications such as saddles. That’s mainly because manufacturers have just chosen to slap on a big glob of gel with nothing to hold it in place, resulting in a really squishy saddle that moves all over the place. Therefore, I was somewhat dubious about incorporating gel into the chamois.

However, I’m happy to report that, slightly daft name aside, this is absolutely the most comfortable chamois that I’ve slapped my cheeks across. The “Twist” refers to the gel’s ability to be twisted up to 800% under compression and still return to the original dimensions without any change, giving it excellent shock absorption. Basically, the Twist Gel is meant to simulate what would happen if you spent the equivalent money on donuts and bonbons and added padding around your butt naturally!

Technical geekiness aside, just how do they ride? I’ve ridden them solid for over a month now, and they have been so good that I’ve found myself washing them by hand in the sink each night so that I can wear them again the next day rather than go back to my old shorts!

For final confirmation, I just came back from taking them out for a long ride on the ultimate shorts torture rack, otherwise known as my tandem. Because of the inherent nature of coordinating your every movement on the bike with another person, you tend to sit in the saddle for all but very brief stints, not coast or even freewheel, and not do as much bracing over bumps and potholes. In other words, all things guaranteed to put the maximum stress on your tush and your shorts. The saddle on my tandem is also an el Cheapo model that seem to be designed to give the same feel as riding on a sharp pointy slab of granite. However, the Twist Gels have come through with flying colours.

Overall, the Santini’s are not cheap, but offer superb value because they seem to last very well (no problems with the gel losing shape or consistency in the washer) and because of their superior comfort.

Go check out the Santini Twist Gel at The Bicyling Hub!

About Stephen
Stephen Cheung is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with a research specialty in the effects of thermal stress on human physiology and performance. He has been an avid roadie since beginning university in the mid-eighties, and still has non-indexed downtube shifters on his winter bike and wool jerseys hanging in his closet. He can be reached for advice or comments at [email protected]

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