As you can probably tell by the name, the new Altura Race Bib Shorts are its top end performance shorts, and there is a lot to like: a race cut fit, lightweight and soft fabric, plus a very good pad.
- Pros: Stealth pad is very supportive; great fit
- Cons: A lot of seams going on at the bib section
The Race shorts use Altura's new Stealth pad, which is made up of various layers of foam and breathable fabrics covering the Y-shaped base pad. Like a lot of the latest pad designs, the Stealth doesn't use loads of channels for pressure relief, instead going for foam positioning and shape, and it works very well.
The Poron 92 Insert, a low density memory foam that covers just the rear and central section of the pad, is quite firm but does a good job of absorbing the road buzz before it gets through to your rear end.
The Y-shaped base – basically a saddle shape with a v-section cut out at the rear – enables a large range of movement as you pedal without the pad rucking up underneath you.
Breathability seems to be pretty good as well, judging by my testing in the recent hot weather.
The main body of the shorts uses a fabric that is 81% nylon and 19% Spandex, which, along with the cut of the panels, gives a form-fitting shape. When crouched over the handlebar the fit feels spot on.
Keeping the legs in place are some quite large grippers which spread the load well so you don't get any pressure spots on longer rides. They are also reflective in a stealth kind of way, as in the fabric looks black during daylight but turns silver when light is shone on it.
The bibs are mesh for the majority of their construction, which aids breathability, although Altura has also gone for an overlapping design to help further, by leaving the central section open. It's fine when you are wearing them, but putting them on can be a bit of a faff as they get twisted and tangled easily.
It also leads to a lot of seams which were noticeable at the shoulders and lower back, especially when standing up to pedal.
When it comes to value, the Race's £89.99 rrp sits pretty well against the opposition. As I said, you are getting a very good quality pad and the fabric choice works well for comfort and performance. The quality of the finish is decent enough too, although I'd say that some of the stitching around the bibs isn't the tidiest I've seen, a little bit rough around the edges in places.
For this sort of money you could go for a pair of Sportful's Fiandre Light NoRain bibs, which were described as very competent shorts in the review, plus you are getting the bonus of some water resistance.
For a performance pair of sub-£100 shorts, though, it is hard to ignore the dhb Aerons, which are some of the best on the market in this price range – in fact they are just £75 at full rrp.
Overall, the Altura Race bib shorts work well on the bike and, a few niggles aside, there really is a lot to like here for your money.
Great pad and fabrics make these a good choice for performance without breaking the bank
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Race Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says, "Stay cool when the race heats up with our Summer racing shorts for elite-level performance. It doesn't get much better than this. Superb cooling and ventilation are guaranteed. Mesh upper body provides enhanced airing with cross over open back design while special fabric wicks moisture away for rapid evaporation. High-level padding comes from the specially designed Stealth Pro chamois pad."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
High wicking fabric
Stealth Pro chamois pad
Mesh upper body with cross over open back design for increased ventilation
Deep reflective hem gripper
Silicon grip hem print
Nicely shaped for fast riding in an aero position.
The sizing matches Altura's size guide so if you stick with that you'll be fine.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues with washing them at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A few little niggles, but on the whole they are good race shorts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great chamois pad.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The overlapping straps can be a faff.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They tick all of the boxes that shorts at this price should deliver, although you can get some quality ones for less money.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They are up against some tough opposition at this price point, and although they deliver a very comfortable ride, the quality of the stitching could be better in places, and the strap design is a little annoying.
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
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.