Alé's Winter Shoe Covers are designed to keep feet warm and expensive (and not so expensive) shoes from winter's slushy wrath. Performance is excellent, although no less than I'd expect from this end of the market.
They're made from neoprene, the stuff of divers' wetsuits designed to provide warmth rather than keep you dry. That said, it's a decent weight and takes a while before it becomes saturated in heavy and/or persistent rain.
Overshoes by definition need to be snug fitting to keep the elements out. These are no exception. I default to recessed SPD/Time cleats from October to March, which makes for easy walking off the bike and feels more secure when dabbing a foot down. Cross country mountain bike shoes with more aggressive soles and, sometimes, slightly broader toe-boxes can present compatibility hassles with second-skin, wind-cheating covers. Thankfully, the combination of Alé's middleweight fabric and accurate sizing is sufficiently accommodating.
Though a little tight around the heels, pulling them over wasn't a struggle, nor did it strain the zipper. Some zippers can pinch a little around the Achilles' area but these have sat flat and unobtrusive.
Tested in temperatures between -4 and +8°C, these have provided ample warmth, without turning particularly clammy for three hours or so. Admittedly, much of this was riding fixed, when – even factoring in windchill – the inability to coast certainly gives circulation a boost.
Aside from drenchings dished out by passing lorries, or submersion in deep roadside puddles, the fabric has locked moderate rain and spray out for at least an hour. Past the two hour mark and dampness does give way to soggy warmth.
The medium density fabric sported a fair bit of silt and contaminant, but the snug fit prevented most of it from transferring to the bike's cranks. Aside from some minor tidemarks where spray had reached the soles, the shoes have remained clean.
Post-ride, I've let them dry before brushing the accumulated grot away in between machine washes. Like most neoprene designs, they take a while to dry out – typically, a couple of hours in the airing cupboard – but to date they have responded very well to 30-degree machine washes.
Reflective detailing is always appreciated too. Fluorescent yellow is the default option for winter kit and is particularly effective for overshoes on account of their movement, but black goes with everything, and retro-reflective detailing is very good at nailing people's attention. Here, reflective stripes at the heel are bolstered by fluoro logos on the side, which covers most bases.
Ultimately, the Alés are well made and should last a good few seasons. Glossy, water-repelling fabrics that keep the feet dry suit me better, but if warmth is highest on your list and you don't mind some clamminess, these are one of the better neoprene models I've used in a good while.
Neoprene overshoes that do a very good job of keeping feet warm and shoes protected from winter's wrath
road.cc test report
Make and model: Ale Winter Shoe Cover
Size tested: Large
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: "Winter thermal shoecover in neoprene for maximum protection from cold and water with reflective details on the back and reinforced toe."
I would agree, adding that it is more accommodating of cross country Mtb and touring type SPD shoes than many road shoe covers I have used in the recent past.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Neoprene construction, reinforced toe area, Scotchlite detailing.
Well made and built to last, nothing less than I'd expect from this price point.
Very good in most contexts.
Sturdy materials and well made.
Snug fit, so no problems with the elements creeping in via the zippered backs for example. However, materials have sufficient give to accommodate cross-country and touring shoes. This has been a boon for me, since I default to SPD/Time systems and cross-country mountain bike or broader sports touring shoes during the colder months.
The right side of precise.
Weighty and rugged enough to last.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Neoprene has responded very well to machine washing at 30 degrees, although I've tended to allow them to dry, brushing residual silt and contaminants from the fibres beforehand. Drying times are reasonable by neoprene standards, something of a moot point while riding since neoprene insulates against cold of all kinds while wet, but worth noting if you are machine washing them regularly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, these overshoes keep feet and expensive shoes well protected from the elements. I've been completely comfortable on two- to three-hour rides between -4 and +8 degrees. Generally speaking, I lean toward glossy water-repellent types, but the middleweight fabric takes a while before becoming waterlogged, and aside from averting the misery of cold feet, they greatly reduce shoe cleaning time/frequency.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well made with a good fit, and their overall performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the overall design brief, though I'm not overly taken by neoprene's clamminess when it gets truly saturated.
Did you enjoy using the product? Generally speaking, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No, only because I'm not overly taken with neoprene's clammy feel when it gets really wet.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they didn't mind that slight sogginess synonymous with neoprene.
Use this box to explain your score
A good fit, well made, and do their job very well – and better than I've come to expect from neoprene.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)