For quite some time, female triathletes and cyclists have been faced with the “shrink it and pink it” concept when shopping for new gear. Fortunately the market has begun to respond. Compared to years passed, Female athletes now have a wider variety of women-specific gear at their disposal. And while our multisport editor, Tracy, still likes to rock pink and purple; she needs serious gear that can meet the challenges of the sport. Enter the Anna Meares Signature Collection for women from Santini SMS.
Anna Meares is known worldwide for her track cycling talents. Among other titles, Anna is a 31-time Australian track champion and is the holder of Olympic, World, Commonwealth and National Records. Needless to say, Anna is a serious cyclist and certainly can relate to the challenges that women face with cycling apparel. So it’s no surprise that we fell in love with the Anna Meares line the first time we saw it at Interbike 2014.
At the show, we were fortunate enough to get set up with a pair of 33 Aero women’s bib shorts and matching jersey. Unfortunately for the AG Team, Tracy was still trudging around the show floor in a walking boot due to a stress fracture. Therefore it took quite a bit longer than planned for her to spend some quality time in the Santini gear. However, according to Tracy, it was definitely worth the wait.
First launched in the summer of 2014, the collection doesn’t skimp on all the high-quality characteristics you’d expect to find with Santini’s men’s apparel. Santini kept all of the fabric tech and added women-specific cuts to ensure each piece fits the female athlete perfectly. And comfort was definitely the first thing we noticed about both the bib shorts and the jersey.
The jersey was designed with an aerodynamic fit in mind, but it certainly never felt constricting. The fabric itself is made from a material called Resistex Bioceramic. According to Santini, this technology helps to stimulate small-vessel blood flow and is also UV-resistant. Simply stated, the fabric feels amazingly light, cool, and breathable. As for the fit, we loved Santini’s anti-slide elastic banding. Forget the sticky, too-tight feel of traditional silicon grippers—this is nothing like that at all. Instead, we’d describe these as tiny silicon dots that effectively held the jersey right where it should be.
You’ll find three pockets in the back of the jersey, along with an additional zippered compartment in the center. We loved the jersey’s BCOOL back panel, which was designed to enhance breathability. These look like circular cuts in the outer fabric’s “skin” with mesh underneath. Considering we typically ride in temperatures reaching into the high 90’s, we love anything that helps us stay cool while remaining protected from the sun. These cuts also run up the sides of the bib shorts as well.
Speaking of the bib shorts, these utilize a light compression material called Thunderbike Lycra. While the compression is definitely present, we never felt overly squeezed. In fact, the fit was nothing short of perfection. Like the jersey, the bibs utilized the same anti-slide elastic banding around the legs, which held everything perfectly in place.
Of course these too are anatomically cut for women and include Santini’s GIL2 Chamois with anti-abrasion microfiber wings and gel core. This was at first a small concern since we typically prefer a more minimalist chamois. However, we can honestly say that this is one of the most comfortable we’ve found. As Santini had explained to us, the gel never fully compresses, so you have plenty of support throughout your entire ride, all without ever feeling overly padded. The microfiber material was great as well. We wore these on rides up to 50 miles and never experienced chaffing or hot spots during our testing process.
Finally, we’d mentioned earlier that the Anna Meares collection wasn’t particularly “girly.” However, one uniquely feminine aspect we loved was the leopard-print design used up the bib straps. Of course these are hidden once you zip up your jersey, so it’s more of a small secret detail for the wearer.
Overall, we loved our time with the Anna Meares 33 Aero kit. It was cool, comfortable, and looked awesome—everything we’d expect from the Santini brand. What’s more, both the jersey and bib shorts have proved to be quite durable throughout several months of testing. They look just as good as the very first wear. So whether you’re a seasoned racer or simply enjoy a long-distance cruise, we’d highly encourage you to add this kit to your “must have” list.