Alé's Women's Crossover Gilet is light, easy to store, and very windproof. Alé says it's "specifically designed with the female racing cyclist in mind" and I'd say it's succeeded well – not many get this right in my experience, but Alé has got the cut spot on.
There are plenty of gilets on the market, so any manufacturer wanting to stand out and get rave reviews is going to have to produce something seriously special. To my mind, Alé has created an excellent product that will more than satisfy the gilet needs of any avid female cyclist.
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The front, side and upper back panels are all made of the same windproof material, which feels rather paper-like – well, the pros used to stick a newspaper down their front at the top of an Alpine descent, so why not? The fabric functions exceptionally well. Despite me thinking it might be a little noisy on a descent, the snug fit ensured that it didn't flap or move about.
A mesh panel down the length of the rear helps reduce overheating and excessive sweating, and results in a garment that does exactly as Alé claims – it keeps you warm while not allowing you to drown in sweat. I never found myself in a rush to remove it because of overheating, which can often be the case with gilets. If you do need more ventilation, the CamLock front zip means if the gilet is half open the zip can be 'clicked' down to lock it in position.
The same J-Stability System used in many of Alé's jerseys has been employed here – a carefully cut, lightly elasticated baseline hem with the addition of a silicone strip results in the gilet sitting perfectly still when in a riding position, without any excess gathering or bagging of material.
Alé has also incorporated a stuff sack: no folding, rolling or screwing up necessary to get it into your back pocket – often a battle in windy conditions. An extra section of mesh at the base of the rear forms a pouch, which allows you to quickly stuff the garment in on itself to create a malleable bundle no bigger than a cricket ball. When stuffed in this sack, a loop appears for you to hang up the 'ball' should you wish to. It's the little things...
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The black I tested is great for use on muddy roads – no fear of staining or marking – with added fluorescent trim and the rear logo making for pleasing aesthetics as well as heightening visibility. Two subtle yet effective reflective tabs have been sewn into the seams along the rear mesh panelling.
Overall, this is an excellent piece of windproof kit designed specifically for a female figure. It doesn't require you to accept any garish colour combinations, is seriously stylish and performs exceptionally well in the conditions it was designed for. It's the best female-specific gilet I have ever tried, cut for an athletic build and offering supreme protection against the wind. My only reservation is with sizing; it's on the small side, so size up to ensure it'll fit over winter jerseys.
Excellent windproof layer for the female form without being boil-in-the-bag
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Make and model: Ale Women's Crossover Gilet
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?
Alé says: "A lightweight, windfront vest to protect against the wind and cooler temperatures. This gilet is the best choice for a protective and easy to use garment that will match the rest of your PRR kit perfectly.
"Specifically engineered for the female body whilst cycling."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Compact, windproof and lightweight 3 layer material.
* Inbuilt stuff sack for quick packing
* Central mesh panel on the back of the gilet
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Perfectly cut and constructed panelling, with neat seams and hems.
Rate the product for performance:
It's excellent: windproof as claimed, perfect for chilly mornings, long descents and cold, windy days.
Rate the product for durability:
Time will tell, but in four weeks of testing it's stood up well, and the material that makes up the vast majority of the garment appears very hardwearing.
Rate the product for fit:
A very snug fit, with absolutely no flapping in the wind. Very much cut for an athlete female figure, tapering at the sides and narrower on the shoulders than many gilets.
Rate the product for sizing:
It just covered a jersey. Wearing it over a thick winter jersey would have been a no go for the medium size I was testing.
Rate the product for weight:
Ticks the box for 'lightweight'!
Rate the product for comfort:
As I said above, much more 'close fitting' than I am used to, but I think this results in a better performance.
Rate the product for value:
It's not cheap, but it's good value compared with other high quality gilets – and it's worth shopping around for the best price.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy: 30 degree cycle several times during the test period and the material is still as new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It offered very good protection against the wind while not causing excessive overheating.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The cut – not many manufacturers get the female cut right in a gilet. Alé has managed it.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A little on the constrictive side when worn over a bulky jersey. Get the sizing right and this won't be an issue.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? After shopping around for a good price, yes!
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, with a warning to check the size chart from Alé.
Use this box to explain your score
A gilet that is specifically cut to the female body and includes a unique stuff sack feature scores highly in my opinion. While it fitted perfectly over a summer jersey it was constrictive over some winter ones because of the close cut.
Age: 37 Height: 173cm Weight: 64kg
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,
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