The Alé R-EV1 Master Bibshorts are well suited to riding in a performance setting – lightweight, comfortable and with flashes of Alé's typically flamboyant styling.
What strikes you first with the Masters is just how lightweight they are. Coming in at 183g for the medium size, they're perfect for a slim, svelte feel, while also being particularly cool even on very warm days.
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That's not to say they feel delicate. Alé says the Masters are 'an upgrade' to the PRR shorts in that the Lycra-elastane mix is designed specifically for muscular support, necessitating a certain level of construction to help hold the muscles in place.
The overall effect is certainly a performance feel, and while Alé's kit does tend to come up a little short/tight/racy in my experience, I'm happy to report that it doesn't feel restrictive. Additionally, I found them to be a little longer in the leg than the PRR models.
The bib section also feels performance cut without being restrictive, though the straps themselves are essentially slim polyester-elastane bands rather than the more thickly constructed bib sections often found on bib shorts. They're seamless and cool, and particularly stretchy, with an element of grippiness to hold them in place on the shoulders.
The only downside to the construction is that when putting the bibs on it's very easy to roll the straps up into thin bands, which can be a fiddle to then unroll and return to the wide shape they're supposed to be. It's not an issue while riding – which will be the most important thing for most riders – but still a bit of a faff. Overall quality is good, with a meshed central section to help keep you cool – which it does successfully – and there's no sense that you could tear them if you tugged hard. I tried.
There's also a little extra vanity coverage around the waist, but taking a pee is easy thanks to the fact that it's well elasticated too.
The all-important pad is an Alé Double Ergo model which is claimed to be perfect for racing and high-tempo riding thanks to its reduced bulk at the edges and in the very central area. The idea of this is to support the sit bones while not adding any extra pressure to the perineal area, and I found it to be particularly effective, even though I personally would prefer padding that's a little denser to touch. Still, the nobbled texture underneath the fabric keeps things airy and comfortable when ridden in anger.
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There are quality finishing touches around the whole product too. Alé's use of reflective banding in the flat seams is a nice addition, while the design is unmistakably Alé without being as shouty as some of the Italian brand's products. The leg grippers are textured rather than banded, for a seamless fit to the leg, and take up the entirety of the internal side of the coloured ends to the legs.
They return very well from my usual group washing of sports kit, and appear to be resilient against the likes of snaggy wooden surfaces.
At £150 they're aimed at the higher end of the market, up against the likes of Rapha, Assos and Castelli, as well as more boutique brands. But while there's obviously a good deal going on here to help justify the price, we've had some impressive bib shorts in on test for quite a bit less, such as the Santini Magos at £105. As with most kit these days, the Masters are available for almost a third off the RRP of £150 currently, which makes them better value.
The overall feeling, then, is one of comfort with a race cut to match, without being restrictive. There's no risk of chafing with well-considered lines and low-profile flat seams and textured grippers, and the pad and compressive leg construction are well up to the task of high-tempo riding.
Good quality race bib shorts, with a slightly more tempered design than some Alé kit
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Make and model: Ale R-EV1 Master Bibshorts
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?
Ale says: "Shorts resulting from Ale's vast experience of constructing a racing bib short. After years supporting professional and amateur teams, Ale have created the R-EV1. Maximum performance and comfort on the long distances.
"These bibshorts are an upgrade to Ale's PRR GRAPHICS shorts having now a new look and are now more functional than ever thanks to the use of materials offering a greater muscular support.
"Multi panel classic construction using a woven fabric in the crotch area, offers a very resistant and lightweight short. On the sides a printable polyester fabric with controlled stretch is used to allow for a perfect fit when pedalling. High gripper on the leg bands prevents any constraints or irritation. The straps of the Free system Bib allow for increased comfort, excellent moisture management as well as total freedom of movement."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Ale Double Ergo Chamois
- 'Free system' bib
- Ergonomic Fit
- Gripper anti slip material, dye cut and shaped in the bottom hem
- Weight 170g
- Temperature range 18-30 degrees
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Like other Alé bib shorts I've encountered, these have a high quality construction, no question.
Rate the product for performance:
They're high performing shorts, ideal for high tempo riding in warm conditions.
Rate the product for durability:
Good overall; the bib straps seem a little potentially fragile, though unfounded so far.
Rate the product for fit:
Good fit, with a slightly longer leg than I've seen in other Alé shorts.
Rate the product for sizing:
Alé kit tends to come up on the small side, but the leg length is about normal.
Rate the product for weight:
183g is about right for 'lightweight, racy' bib shorts.
Rate the product for comfort:
I enjoyed using the bib shorts, although the textured grippers are a bit wide for my liking. Otherwise yes, they're comfortable.
Rate the product for value:
At £150 these are at the higher end of the market, but you can find them much cheaper online if you look.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very well, no issues to report.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Again, very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Overall quality, slightly tempered design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing specific – they're good all-rounders.
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
They're good all-round race bib shorts, with only a couple of niggles.
Age: 27 Height: 188cm Weight: 80kg
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) 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: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
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