The Alé PRR 2.0 Future bib shorts for women have lots of boasts: a great chamois, excellent breathability and a lightly compressive but very comfortable fit in the shorts section. Unfortunately, the halter neck strap does nothing to add to this comfort.
The actual shorts – excluding the halter/bib area – are constructed with a range of high-performing materials that result in a quality fit and brilliant breathability. The side panels are a structured, low-drag Aero G.250 fabric – basically a hexagonal weave, close to mesh but not quite there. Alé claims that this fabric stimulates microcirculation while riding. I am not about to comment on reduced drag or increased circulation, but I would say that I sensed light compression when wearing the shorts, and continue to do so even after several weeks of washing and wearing.
One thing I didn't really like was how the weave gave the impression of 'overworn' Lycra where it was stretched at the crotch seam; the photo above shows this quite well. Thankfully, you don't really see this when on the bike. This hasn't got any worse with washing and wearing over the two months of testing, as you'd hope for £140.
There is a thin, tapered strip of mesh on the rear side of the shorts which further increases the breathability of the shorts. Again, it's not so noticeable when on the bike but some might not like the appearance off the bike.
The remaining panel, running centrally over the insert, uses a more familiar looking material. Alé calls it Serie S 41 WR and claims it's breathable and anti-chafing. I didn't get any chafing, even on rides of over four hours.
The legs are held firmly in place by really wide, tapered bands. They are one of the most comfortable leg gripper designs I have ever cycled with; the pressure is spread out over a large area (8.5cm at its deepest over the thigh) and they are lined with 'barely-there' silicone dimples. These are plush to the material so leave no impression and cause absolutely no irritation but perform exceptionally well and are still going strong after two months of testing and washing.
The chamois offers support in exactly the right places without being too bulky. It's worth noting that it is the same pad as the one in the Alé shorts that Ashia recently reviewed, just stitched in a different way.
Moving up to the midriff area of the shorts, Alé has used mesh material here. These panels are good for breathability but have very little in the way of support and stability of position, so they may not be doing the intended job all the time. The halter neck strap is not strong enough to hold them firmly in place either. You really have to hoist the front and rear up in order to achieve the optimum position. If you don't, it gathers and any breathability goes out the window.
The front mesh panel is pretty low too; team it with a jersey that is on the short side and you see its V-shape when stood up off the bike.
Unfortunately, the halterneck strap didn't work for me. It is soft and stretchy enough to not overly irritate the neck, but there is not enough tension in the material to have any effect on the position of the rear panel; the entire lower back section relies solely on friction to remain in place. Invariably it shifts about and ends up sagging. Movement on the bike forces movement of the mesh panels and you can sense the shorts being looser than with a classic bib setup in this area.
The halter is seamless and relatively soft but it has just enough tension in it to make you aware that it is there. Hunch over on the bike and it naturally settles into a position higher than you see in the photo. I adjusted to the constant pulling sensation around the neck over time, but it's fair to say that, given a choice, I would opt for a classic bib short design over this. The strap is quick to absorb moisture that builds up under it (it rides over the neck line of a baselayer, if wearing one) and retains this moisture, which just adds weight to the existing pull. It doesn't dry out quickly either; ease off and you simply have a cool damp ribbon pressing into your neck.
The halter neck's main purpose is to make pee-stops quicker and easier, and I can confirm that they are marginally quicker, although you have to fight to get the mesh panels back to a reasonable position post-pee.
In terms of value, I'm not convinced these are worth the RRP. The features and materials that are incorporated to make the leg/chamois element justify the price, but the strap element needs a rethink. It's a real shame as the Alé shorts that I reviewed last year were great, and Ashia was pretty impressed with the Traguardo Shorts.
Exceptional breathability around the legs but the halter strap is disappointing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Alé PRR 2.0 Future Bibshort Women's
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Alé says, "Future WH System is our advanced project for a real high-end woman short. It represents a new concept of bibs for women athletes: comfortable, the bibs don't get in touch with breast and allow an easy undressing. The Serie S 41 WR fabric in the crotch area grants maximum breathability and resistance to abrasion. The compression areas are balanced by the use of different fabrics. The fabric Aero G.250 allows a low aerodynamic impact, thanks to the golf ball effect and a high muscle compression: the contact with the skin stimulates the circulation like a massage. The new 7.5 cm gripper material on the leg bands prevents any constraints."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Alé lists these features:
-Ergonomic Racing Fit.
-Leg hem in gripper material, shaped dye cut.
WH Free System Bib / Body Mapping / Leg Stability System / Zero Friction
Shammy 4wh F
Shammy "W4HF" in elastic micro-fiber, specifically shaped for women, with padding strategically positioned in the contact points. In the perineal and ischiatic area, the 90 kg/cm2 density padding is calibrated and breathable on all covered points to ensure utmost protection against shocks and stresses of the road. The lateral shaped wings are flexible and follow the movements of a woman's body while pedaling, adapting to the cyclist's anatomy for high comfort.
Super-breathable around the leg area. Need to ensure that the upper mesh panels are 'hoisted' up if you are to experience any breathability here.
No loose threads or deterioration of fabrics after two months of testing.
Not so good in the upper part – doesn't stay in place so well.
I normally take an Alé medium, so as expected here.
The halter strap negates virtually all the comfort of the actual shorts part. A real shame.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
As per instructions, 30 degree wash, easy.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I am personally not won over by this alternative to bibs; while the shorts performed on the breathability stakes around the leg, my neck was being suffocated by the halter strap and, unless I was regularly adjusting the torso mesh panels, moisture around the lower back would build up.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The leg grippers and the breathability of the material in the leg sections.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The halter strap.
Did you enjoy using the product? I did adjust to it after a few weeks but can't say that the word 'enjoy' best describes my feelings towards the halter element.
Would you consider buying the product? No, it's not for me.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Unlikely.
Use this box to explain your overall score
So many decent features, sadly mostly negated by the halter strap system. On balance I'd say it deserves a 6, but it could be much higher.
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, getting to grips with off-roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…