The Altura Repel bib shorts are designed for three season use thanks to a DWR treatment to the fabric, and with their Stealth pad, big miles are on the cards. The pad is pretty good, I'll give it that, but the stitching around the outside is very irritating; as for keeping the rain out, I've used much better.
I've tested and worn a lot of Altura kit and on the whole I really like it. Altura often delivers quality kit that performs well without breaking the bank. It isn't the best out there, but delivers on the old bang versus buck. Sadly, though, these Repel bibs just don't hit the mark.
First up, the stitching around the pad is slightly odd. Normally on shorts when they aren't being worn, the shorts fabric still sits flat around the chamois, but here that isn't the case. The pad curls under itself around the edge, which gives the seams a pronounced look. Initial inspection in the office made us think we had a faulty pair so we asked for a second to be sent in – which were exactly the same.
Once you put them on, everything flattens out thanks to a snug and body-contoured fit, but in use that seam is still problematic.
To begin with, I didn't notice anything untoward on the first ride. In fact, quite the opposite. I was really impressed with the way the pad felt. It's simple with no varying density or channels for blood flow (isn't it funny how things often go full circle?), and the overall level of padding takes the worst of the road buzz out and it moves with you well.
The fabric of the shorts is quite thin and offers plenty of stretch which I liked for warmer days, and gives just a little hint of compression. On the whole, the cut and comfort were really working; the fit is quite racy, and they feel more comfortable on the bike than off it.
It was only when I got off the bike that I felt how sore the area was where the stitching had rubbed. The friction from the seam had been enough to wear through my skin, and that post-ride bath was enough to bring water to my eyes.
It's a shame really because the Repels aren't a bad pair of shorts when it comes to comfort elsewhere. The wide straps don't cause any pressure and the leg cuffs keep them in place around the thigh.
Those cuffs use a silicone grip print for around two-thirds of the leg with a standard Lycra section taking up the rest to allow some extra give for larger legs.
One of the main selling points of the Repels is the ability to shed water when you're riding. The fabric has a DWR (durable water repellent) coating which should make the rain bead off the surface, and it does, a little bit, but I found it all a little underwhelming.
Riding on a day that saw showers of varying intensity, even the lightest of them weren't really shrugged off. Drizzle would run away but other than that the shorts soon got overwhelmed by the water.
The Repels aren't anywhere the most expensive bib shorts we see here at road.cc, but even for £79.99 I wasn't overly impressed by the finish. There are lots of stray threads and the stitching isn't the neatest. I've been to a factory in Italy where the company had a department that dealt with all these little imperfections, and some of its kit is cheaper than these Alturas. It makes a big difference to the overall feeling of quality.
They face quite stiff competition, too, when you could go for the rain-repellent Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 bib shorts for a tenner more (but remember to go up a size). And if you aren't worried about rain repellency you could take a look at the excellent dhb Aeron bibs, stunning shorts all round that'll cost a fiver less.
Overall, there are some good points to the Altura Repel shorts, but they are a bit of a let-down in many areas.
Irritating stitching and average water resistance take the shine off
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Repel Bib Short
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says, "Take on all-weathers with confidence. These superb bib shorts feel as good as they look. Offering 3-season performance, thanks to the Water Repellent Treatment and midweight fabric, they are designed to offer comfort no matter the weather.
"Attention to detail sets the Repel apart. From the Stealth pad for all-day riding comfort, to the mesh upper body for lightness and ventilation. The ergonomic design will conform to your body, avoiding friction and aero disadvantages."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Midweight fabric with DWR treatment for 3 season offering
Stealth chamois pad
Mesh upper body
Silicon grip hem print
The odd stray threads here and there.
Sizing is spot on.
If it wasn't for the pad seam, comfort wouldn't be bad.
Not badly priced going by the spec, but they fail to deliver.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washing was no issue at all. Following the instructions saw them come up clean with no shrinkage or damage.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A few things to like, but ultimately they fail to deliver on their promise.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well cut for the racing position.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Irritating pad seam.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are similarly specced shorts for around the same money but the Alturas don't really deliver on their promise.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
There are a few things to like but as an overall package I find the Alturas lacking thanks to that pad seam, questionable finish and average water repellency.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!