Some brands don’t need much introduction but Alé does things a little differently. You won’t find it in your local shop and it isn’t the most well-known brand. I don’t think I’ve ever come across another cyclist wearing Alé and that’s not because it is new to the industry.
The foundations of Alé come from APG Cycling, a brand that’s been manufacturing cycling clothing for 30 years. APG is also the parent company for DMT shoes and Cipollini bikes. In 2013 APG launched a new consumer-facing brand with the name Alé. The factory is in Italy and the clothes are handmade. In case you are wondering, that’s pronounced ah-lay.
I’ve ridden with Alé gear in the mix for a few years. Over that time, I’m consistently impressed above all else with how well it fits. Each time I put on something new from the brand I’m once again reminded of how important fit is. Technical fabrics and innovative design are a given. Each brand does its best to find the right innovation for more speed and more comfort, but it all falls apart if the fit isn’t perfect. This time I had the chance to spend some time with the Alé PR-S Master 2.0 bib shorts and see if it’s as good as other pieces I’ve tested in the past.
Design and aesthetics
Part of the core Alé brand story is the importance of fluoro colours. In the story section of its website, there are at least six parts that cover the importance of colour and how it influences the brand and everything it does. Given that focus, it’s somewhat odd that the PR-S Master 2.0 takes on a tame design blueprint. There are four colourways to choose from including grey (pictured here), plain white, fluorescent yellow and a very bright blue but there’s nothing that truly stands out.
At the back of the leg is an insert, which Alé refers to as elastic, covered with reflective dots. It’s got an organic shape reminiscent of a cut in the fabric. In most clothing, an elastic insert would provide extra stretch. In this case, the main fabric composition is 41% elastane, otherwise known as Lycra, with plenty of stretch. That insert is only 18% elastane and so, instead, seems to provide a stable base from which the main fabric can stretch. Aside from any performance or fit advantages, what this cut in the rear of the leg accomplishes is to provide a visual breakup of the leg design.
It’s a feature that plays out in other places as well. Things like the arc of the vertical stitching in the front of the legs and reflective logos on the outside of the right leg and lower back. These may provide some performance advantage but it’s important to remember that even technical clothing has a fashion aspect to it. All these visual details provide focus points for the eyes and define the muscles.
At the top of the bibs, above where the bottom hem of the jersey would be, is a mesh insert. The same mesh is present between the shoulder straps as they traverse the back. In these high heat areas, the inserts provide a bit of extra cooling. In the front, it’s stretchy enough to easily pull down without worry about popping seams.
When it comes to the actual straps, they are a high point of the design. They carry enough weight and width that they don’t twist themselves up as you put them on. That bit of mesh in the back provides extra cooling but it also comes up between the shoulder blades. The design means that there’s plenty of structure to keep the straps in the most comfortable position across the shoulders.
If you flip the PR-S Master bib shorts inside out you’ll get a look at the chamois. It’s a fluoro yellow colour that will definitely catch your eye. I don’t know that it’s important for a chamois to catch your eye but whatever the reason for the bright colour choice, it’s unmissable. Check the edges of the chamois for the only attachment to the exterior fabric. The entire centre section floats free so that it moves with your body, separate from the rest of the garment. At the very centre there’s an area with no foam that works similarly to a saddle with a cutout.
I used the Alé bib shorts for mid-week rides for a while but also, knowing I had this review coming up, decided to tackle a 117-mile ride with them. The mid-week rides are around 30 miles and an hour and a half while the long ride was a bit under seven hours. During my time with them, I got a reminder each and every time I pulled them on of just how good the fit is. I know I’m belabouring the point by now but it’s important.
Pull up the legs and there’s no struggle to find the proper resting place. With some bib shorts you find yourself spending the first mile or two of every ride stretching and pulling to get things to sit where they should. The Alé PR-S gets there right away. Once in place, things stay right where they should. This is especially true of the shoulder straps.
The design of the straps is an important aspect of the overall fit. When you’ve got straps without much structure and not a lot of guiding, it can be hard to get them sitting comfortably. Alé absolutely nails the right design for the straps and they lead down into a suitably high waist. The mesh structure at the waist is comfortable with enough height that jerseys sit perfectly without being overly compressive. If you are pulling down the front without pulling the bibs off you won’t hear any complaint from the stitching.
There are no specific aero claims made about them but a good fit goes a long way in the race for aero gains. However, without wind tunnel testing I can’t say for sure but my guess would be the raised logo on the left leg and the textured rear elastic aren’t the most aero designs.
When it comes to a seven-hour ride, things were slightly less rosy for the Alé offering. The lightweight chamois is a bit too lightweight after three or so hours in the saddle. A ride with more climbing would have fared better as a bit of movement went a long way towards relieving any uncomfortableness. If you plan to be spending long hours in a relatively static position on the bike there are bib shorts with more density under the sit bones. On the positive side though, there was no chafing.
These are stylish bib shorts with an exceptional fit. That could have been the whole review and in many ways it would have been enough. This is clothing after all – performance clothing but still clothing, so you should feel good wearing it both from a fit perspective and from a style perspective and that’s what you get from Alé and the PR-S bib short.
Expanding on the generalities a bit, the fit is compressive without being a struggle. I wear a size small in most brands and that’s what I wear in Alé as well.
If you are considering the Alé PR-S bib short they are at their best in the three-hours-or-less range of riding. The fastest and hardest rides of shorter distances is where they shine. The flatlock seams, and considered placement of those seams, are also an excellent complement to rides with a focus on climbing and lots of movement.
Tech Specs: Alé PR-S Master 2.0 bibshorts
- Price: $189 / €145
- Materials: Polyamide, polyester, elastane
- Colours: Grey, white, yellow, blue
- Sizes: XS-XXXL
- Weight: 175g