At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
Good bib shorts are the cycling equivalent of a little black dress, and the Altura Podium Elite bib shorts are up there with the best of them. They're a modern take on a classic design, with noticeable focus having been paid to the cut and to the interface at the leg grippers and strap area – Altura's 3D ErgoFit patterning.
Branding is left to the grippers and across the rear, and they're available in just one colour: black with white logos. There are two small reflective bands on the rear of the thighs and, as with most shorts, they're minuscule and it's hard to see what benefit they offer.
The main short material is slightly shiny and very lightweight, which is reflected in the all-up garment weight of 183g. They stay fairly dry and deal effectively with wicking sweat away as well as keeping rain at bay. Everything from the waist up is made from a fairly close-woven mesh, which means excellent wicking ability, keeping sweat away from the midriff and back. The straps are wide and softly trimmed, which helps keep them in place and avoids chafing.
At the other end of things, wide leg grippers are helped by the inclusion of silicone, and they certainly stay put. They have also stayed in shape during the test period, without any crinkly edges developing due to wear.
At the back of the shorts, just above the kidneys, there are two pockets. I had to look carefully for these and although I think it's a novel idea for keeping a single house key or a credit card – or, Altura suggests, energy products – in practice I didn't ever use them. I couldn't see myself ever putting anything in them really – there are just better options for storing stuff than right next to your skin under a jersey.
Finally, the pad – the most important element of any cycling shorts. In short (excuse the pun), it's pretty good. It's thicker than the pad in the Hoy-Vulpine bib longs I tested during the winter, but not uncomfortably so. It's as good on long days in the saddle as it is on short, quick, summer blasts. It has breathable perforations, using Altura's ProGel and Altura Dry technology, and does its job very well. It's not the comfiest pad I've ever used, but it's not far off. It has also kept its shape well.
The shorts are lasting well, too – other than Altura's printed logo in the back, where the thin band around the sizing information has already started to peel. I'm keen that manufacturers start printing/weaving their washing information to do away with labels sewn into seams, but here perhaps it's fortunate that Altura hasn't done that as it would be in danger of doing a Marty McFly and disappearing from the picture. That said, most modern cycle clothing has the same care instructions, so it's not a huge worry.
In terms of value, you can get similar shorts for less – though you can also get these for less than RRP. That said, there's obviously been quite a bit of thought put into their design, and they do fit very well. If the pad suits, you certainly won't be disappointed.
Classic pair of black bib shorts with thoughtful details to help them stand out from the crowd
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Podium Elite Bib Short
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Altura says: "Performance delivered in a competition bib short using premium European fabrics, an Altura Pro 3D pad and 3D ErgoFit™ patterning for superior ride comfort."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Altura Dry™ technology is engineered to move excess moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable
* Altura Pro 3D pad with full carving conch construction with breathable perforations. Featuring Altura ProGel™ and Altura Dry™ technology
* Altura ErgoFit™ 3D patterning engineered for a more comfortable riding position
* Breather mesh upper body zones for enhanced breathability
* Rear tech pockets to store energy supplies
* Strategically located retroreflective trims for increased visibility
* Integrated silicon grip detailing delivers enhanced fit
Stitching and material quality is high.
Very good pair of shorts that have clearly been through a comprehensive design process.
My only 'worries' are about the printed logo.
Comfortable pair of bib shorts with the right panels in the right places.
Not a huge amount of give in the black fabric, but spot on for a size medium.
There are similarly specced shorts that can be had for less.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Simple to wash - always came out looking great, with the exception of the internal print.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A great pair of mid- to high-end bib shorts that perform well and will go with most items of clothing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The all-round comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Very little; I'd like a bit more colour choice (there's black and that's it), and there's the flaking print inside the shorts.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Very good lightweight LBBBs (Little Black Bib Shorts) that should be on anyone's shortlist.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kinesis Racelight T (winter) Cervélo S2 (Summer) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking