I’ve been blogging here about bicycles for over ten years. No one has ever emailed to see if I’d be interested in reviewing their product. I suppose that’s because every product I mention or review of my own accord gets tagged with the category “Bullshit Products.”
One time, early on, I did a review of Mad Alchemy Embrocation and sent them the link. It was a very positive review but they were angry, I suppose, at being labeled a “bullshit product.” Then, to spite me, their product seemed to stop working on my legs. Marketers have infinite places they can send products to get a well-written, good review.
I mean, look at this “review” posted on CompetitveCyclist.com of the Santini bib short. It’s high-quality ad copy, and I’m being charitable. More importantly, I’m sure it’s responsible for selling a whole bunch of shorts.
The last thing they need is to have their product used and written about by someone who truly does not give a fuck. But that’s what they are gonna get.
So I was blown away when Santini asked if I’d be interested in reviewing their 2021 gravel line-up. They’d send me free shit, and I’d write about it. Their only requirement was that I send them a link to what I’d written.
I read the email several times. It looked legit. It sounded legit. But why me? Surely they hadn’t ever read my blog. Surely they didn’t think I was going to say anything good. Surely they didn’t think I knew anything about gravel or even cycling. Right?
However, I actually had a love affair with Santini once. It started when Fields came back from his year in Ghent with a duffel full of Santini race wear. Sanson/Campagnolo wool jerseys made by Santini. Shorts made by Santini. So I bought some and became a believer. They were so much better than anything I had ever owned that I wore them out.
But the Santini item that I treasured more than any other was my wool Santini winter jacket with plastic coating on the front. That thing kept me warm through the harshest winters in Japan, through rainstorms in Texas, snow in Colorado … it was truly an amazing piece of cycling clothing. And it never even fell apart, it just fell victim to one of my periodic scorched-earth closet clean-outs. I was living in SoCal, winter there was simply a concept, etc.
Here’s a link to that immortal jacket, fyi.
Rightly figuring that this would be the only time in my life that I get free stuff to review, I immediately responded and told them I’d love to review their gear. They emailed me a catalog, I picked a couple of things, and then never heard from them again.
Until I did.
In the bag was a pair of gravel shorts that looked suspiciously like MTB shorts, and a pair of wool gravel socks.
“K, bitches,” I said. “Prepare for getting your narrow ass reviewed.”
First thing I did was take them out on a bike-a-hike, and I can tell you this: the Santini gravel electric blue short is a must-have for any serious outdoor adventurer, anywhere, whether scaling Annapurna in a bikini or crossing the Pacific by rowboat.
Because this particular short quite simply makes the best rescue flag you will ever find anywhere. It is so bright that by simply running it up a stick, hanging it from a branch, spreading it on a rock, poking it up through an avalanche, or tying it to the mainmast, any search and rescue team will see it for miles. The only down side is that if you are wearing it, your companion will be temporarily blinded each time they glance at the shorts.
If you’re bicycling near cars, it will replace the need for headlights/taillights, which is a big money saver, as the pants don’t need to be plugged in for recharging.
I took the pants out for a pedal on a very challenging dirt-and-rock road, down Old State Road over to Wagy Flat, up Sawmill, and then over Rancheria back to CA 155.
This is only the second pair of dickhiders I’ve ever worn; as a lifelong Lycra adept it was only when I started touring that I got my first pair of roomy, comfortable, MTB dickhiders to replace the nut-deforming and penis-flattening Lycra shorts beloved by Avid Recreational Cyclists everywhere.
The Santini gravel short is incredibly light, and perhaps because it’s Italian it fits a bit more snugly than my American-made dickhiders. This is nice when you don’t want a monsoon blowing up your thighs to chill your balls every time a leg goes up, which, while cycling, they tend to do occasionally.
As important as proper air conditioning for the nutsack is, the blue color of the shorts has the effect of making you look tanner than you really are. Now if there is anything more important in cycling than tan legs, I don’t know what it is, and the shorts will save you scads on tanning cream.
Functionally, they do something kind of unique with the zipper, too. Usually with pants you snap them first and then zip them. But with the Santini Gravel Rescue Ball Conditioning Tanning short, you zip first and then snap. Why? Because the zipper goes all the way up and under the top snap, which, when you snap the top snap, prevents absolutely the zipper from opening up in mid-climb and presenting a gnarly and generally unwanted public wrinkled testicle viewing.
If you’re not champing at the bit for a pair of these babies, there’s more. Namely, the pockets. Unlike my American-made dickhiders, which have pockets too shallow to put anything besides a couple of condoms (and what cyclist ever needs those?), the Santini gravel short has capacious pockets that are deep enough for my 6-inch folding Bowie knife.
Any gravel short that has room for a tool you might use for skinning a grizzly bear is a flat fucking winner.
For finicky gravel riders who can’t stand being dirty, which, I’ve observed, is virtually all of them, the shorts also wash up quickly with nothing more than cold water and a gob of spit.
So you are probably wondering about the socks. How are the socks?
Well, they are tall, which I like. And they are merino wool, which is extremely comfortable. And they are zero profile, which means there’s no slippage or bumping inside the shoe, even when you wear giant Saloman trail running clodhoppers like I do, and even when you have a big toenail that sticks up like a redwood and is more jagged than than a cat’s mouth. They seem sturdy but I can’t really testify to their longevity until I’ve got a couple hundred thousand more miles on them. Even if they fall apart the soft wool will make great mini-earswabs.
In sum, I still can’t believe that Santini sent me this swag. It performs beautifully and makes me look tan. Keeps my nuts the right temp and keeps them from flopping out mid-ride. Gives me the requisite high-sock tanline that says “cyclist wanker” when strolling on the beach.
Plus, free. Did I mention it was free?
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