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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
Alé's PRR Arcobaleno Bib Shorts for women, with their 'ergonomic racing fit', are snug, comfortable and sufficiently minimal for racing. Everything stays in place well thanks to Alé's Free system bib – 'for the right support without constriction' and its LG Stability system – a 60mm wide leg gripper that 'distributes the pressure on the leg and keeps the garment in place during the ride'. The only fly in the ointment is the pad, which I found comfortable some days, but causing irritation on others.
Alé, a brand of larger company APG, based in Verona, sponsors a women's team – Alé-Cipollini – and describes its Graphics PRR range as a 'selection of items featuring original designs arising from the most famous, professional and amateur Ale teams, with some graphic completely new'. APG has, in the past, made the Tour de France's yellow jerseys, and Motorola and Discovery kit.
The shorts are pictured here with the matching PRR Acrobaleno jersey, which I also tested. I probably don't need to point out the rather striking colours... There are others available, if the blue and fluorescent orange is too much for you – though all still quite garish, or you could try the Alé PRR Bermuda bib shorts – identically constructed but in slightly more subtle colours.
The shorts are made of a 'high density performance material', which Alé claims provides 'light muscular compression when riding'. This certainly seemed to be the case; they were comfortably firm without being too tight.
When I first pulled them on I was expecting there to be excessive compression around the base of the leg given this snug fit, but that LG Stability system I mentioned earlier – a wide, stretchy band woven with silicone – is a revelation. It didn't feel too tight but kept the shorts firmly in place without being abrasive or harsh on the skin.
The 'Free system' bib section uses a curved section of open weave fabric at the rear, which forces the bibs to drift outwards as they stretch over the shoulders. The straps do not curl up and there are no signs of perforation or fraying.
The claim that the shorts have been designed following research into the shape of a female racer certainly seems to stand up: everything felt just right. Mostly...
The soft anti-bacterial insert is a waffle-like fabric, with additional support from a centrally positioned strip of generous padding. It offered ample protection and didn't deteriorate at all during the test period, but I did experience occasional abrasion from the edge of the insert. It didn't occur on every ride – just occasionally when the exposed chamois edge sat in line with the edge of my saddle. And on one ride it occurred on one side but not the other...
Despite that, overall, I really like these shorts: the colouring is a serious statement and visibility plus – it's pretty rare in a market swamped by darker clothing – and they're made from scratch in Italy. On rides when the pad and saddle sat right, they were exceptionally comfortable – I'd still buy them!
Snug fitting shorts ideal for competitive cyclists, with unique features that result in (mostly) outstanding comfort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Alé PRR Arcobaleno Bibshorts (Womens)
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?
Women-specific garment boasting an 'ergonomic racing fit'.
Distributor Paligap says: "One of Ale's most well-known bibshorts's that is used by many professionals and amateurs all over the world. Carbon fabrics and ergonomic fitting work together to achieve the "Pure Performance" bibshort which is an inimitable blend of style and performance - specifically engineered for the female body in the bike position."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Ergonomic fitting
* 'Free system bib' for the right support without constriction
* Embossed fabric in the crotch area for maximum abrasion resistance
* Long reflective piping in the back part of the legs for clear visibility
* 'LG Stability system' at the bottom of the hem to keep the bibshort in place
The "LG STABILITY SYSTEM™, a 60mm strip leg gripper distributes the pressure on the leg and keeps the garment in place during the ride. The fitting has been specifically studied to follow the anatomy of a racing woman's body."
All seams are extremely tidy and secure. The bib element of the shorts has been designed with a curved panel at the rear to force the bib straps to sit wide at the front. The anti-bacterial insert encloses a centrally positioned supportive pad.
The shorts were very comfortable when riding, allowing for full freedom of movement when in and out of the saddle.
So far so good. The insert isn't losing support and, to date, the seams are like new. The elastic bib and leg cuffs have lost none of their stretch, in four weeks of testing.
A very snug fit. I would highly recommend you check the size chart on the website – a medium might not be what you think a medium is.
A medium was JUST big enough for me, and normally a medium is generous. From experience, this is typical of Italian kit.
146g, what more can I say?
Overall, comfort is very good, except occasionally when I found the edge of the insert sitting in line with the edge of my saddle and causing some abrasion. Washing seemed to soften it up, and it didn't happen every ride (on one ride, it happened on one side but not the other). It's not unique to these shorts, but it was a real shame when it did, as otherwise they felt great.
Under £100 isn't bad for shorts that match up to the best on the market with regards to innovative features and (mostly) comfort.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed well on a 30 degree cycle (nothing about softener mentioned) and still look as bright as ever.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I certainly felt like a racer when I headed out in these; the ideal fit for a fast training ride with the local group.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The snug fit, reminiscent of my racing days.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fact that the insert could sometimes irritate (but sometimes not).
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but check the sizing chart – and maybe their saddle shape...
Use this box to explain your score
These are extremely good shorts that, other than those occasional pad/saddle issues, are exceptionally comfortable in every other way. It might just be a personal shape/saddle issue, but I can't give them full marks even though, on days when I had no problems, they felt pretty much perfect.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding