The PRR 2.0 Speedfondo bibshorts from Italian brand Alé are like a Swiss Army knife for your legs. With a highly compressive fabric to reduce muscle fatigue, lightweight mesh bibs to keep you cool, and a water-repellent finish to keep you dry in a summer shower, you're pretty much covered for all weathers and every race. The fact that this is all built around an exceptional pad is the icing on the cake.
The name Speedfondo gives you some indication as to what these shorts are intended for. Gran fondos are big rides in Italia, similar to our sportives but much, much bigger, usually containing a couple of mountains, and ridden by some like races – hard and fast.
Alé uses Serie S 41 WR Active Comfort fabric for the working part of the shorts, that being the legs and lower back, which includes 41% elastane in its manufacture. This gives the shorts a very tight fit for compression purposes, which is believed to reduce muscle fatigue by way of support, with no unwanted vibration, and by squeezing the muscles to increase blood flow and keep them replenished with the good stuff.
I'm a big believer in compression clothing during exercise and recovery, and have been using compression tights for years after big rides and runs. I definitely notice the effects of fresher feeling muscles for longer during a workout or the following day.
On a few four and five-hour rides in the Speedfondos I felt unbelievably fresh in the leg department, though saying that, the compression is among the strongest I've known. I have quite large thighs and could find the Alés borderline tight at times – not uncomfortable, but noticeable.
Sizing up could be an option, but the shorts fit perfectly everywhere else so I'd rather stick with these mediums. Speaking of size, they are available in small through to 3XL.
As well as being compressive, the material also has a DWR (durable water repellent) coating that sees rainwater and road spray just bead off. It does a really good job at keeping you dry, resisting a lot of liquid before it is finally penetrated. Obviously, with it being a coating it will eventually start to diminish and will need to be reapplied.
The leg grippers are 75mm deep and do a great job of keeping the shorts where they need to be, and thanks to that depth the pressure is applied over quite a large area of skin so you don't get any hot spots or seams digging in.
The 8HF pad feels a little bulky when you first put the shorts on, but once in the saddle it fits perfectly. It has a large wing area around the outside of the padded section, giving your inner thighs more coverage and reducing chafing as it moves with you when you are riding.
The shape of the pad is quite simplistic compared with others, with just a single depth of padding used, but has honeycomb style air pockets for support. It works well, offering plenty of cushioning, plus it's well ventilated too.
The bib section has a very narrow back to it, with a large central cutout to aid cooling, while at the front you get two wide and flat straps with plenty of give for a secure but unrestrictive fit.
The quality you are getting for your £115 is exactly as you'd expect from Alé, with the usual high attention to detail. Each item of clothing is handmade and there's a section in the factory where each garment is checked over to have stray thread ends and the like removed for a neat and tidy finish.
You can get very good shorts for a lot less – the Sportful Giros at £60, for instance – but the Speedfondos have a lot of technical details and great quality, all helping towards justifying their price.
If you like to ride fast for a long time, the Alés are well worth considering.
Impressive pair of bib shorts that are great for hard riding and racing – especially in the rain
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ale PRR 2.0 Speedfondo Bibshorts
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?
Alé says: "Our aerodynamic bib short with a classic and sober style. A new concept design that combines aerodynamics and water-repellency in a technical garment suitable for race as well as for the daily training."
The Speedfondo bibshorts offer a very compressive and close fit which makes them a great choice for fast, hard rides.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Alé lists these features:
The cuts have been reduced and this allows the maximum comfort thanks to the limited number of seams. Low aerodynamic impact. The main fabric is called Serie S 41 WR Active Comfort and it's used on the legs and on the back: it's a compressive material containing 41% of elastomer that even with a reduced thickness it gives the right amount of compression that reduces the muscular fatigue. Moreover it has a WR treatment on the outside, repelling water, and it is hydrophillic on the inside, helping fast drying and breathability. New 'Open' bib system for a better moisture management.
SERIE S41 WR ACTIVE COMFORT
SERIE LP 41
Well made and great attention to detail, flawless finishing.
The fabrics feel very hardwearing and should take a knock or two.
If you have large thighs the compression can be a little too effective.
For an Italian brand Alé's sizing is suprisingly similar to that of British clothing, as I never need to size up.
The compressive nature of the material can be a bit overpowering at times, but it does pay dividends the longer you ride. The pad is impressive too.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems at all, although the DWR coating will be washed off eventually so you'll need to reapply it or something similar.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a pair of racing shorts they offer a great balance of comfort and performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pad comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Leg grippers can feel a little tight.
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
The Speedfondos are a really impressive pair of shorts for those long, hard rides, whether you're racing or smashing around a sportive route.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.