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The Altura Progel Plus Men's Bibshorts are described as a 'go to' design for everyday rides, and several hundred miles in I'm inclined to agree. The materials are robust yet compliant, and I've been pleasantly surprised by the blend of comfort and support.
The shorts have an eight-panel design, soft-feel bib straps, and a thin, perforated mesh back. The legs are a reassuringly sturdy weight – beefier than I'd associate with traditional road bibs, and continuing the go-to narrative.
Their satin texture is bang on, too; these days, I do most of my day-to-day miles on traditional leather saddles, and I've been able to settle and make subtle adjustments effortlessly, without annoying 'surf' or feeling like I'm sat atop flypaper.
The leg panels are very fitted, but flat seams and excellent elastics/silicone detailing mean no hint of constriction or tell-tale branding after several hours' steady riding. They are fractionally shorter in the leg than I'm used to – not markedly so, and I quickly acclimatised, but it's worth double checking the size guide if you're proportionally longer limbed.
The bib section and straps are very supportive but not remotely restrictive, allowing effortless, subtle adjustments and switches between tri-bars, drops and hoods.
I've used the shorts for a fair bit of mixed terrain riding on dirt roads and bridleways, and the pad has offered excellent cushioning and support, as well as wicking moisture effectively. It's a 3D moulded design specific to Altura and made using Italian materials – a mix of dual-density foam with gel 'rooted' inside, positioned to support the sit bones.
Testing temperatures have ranged between 13 and 25°C. When things have dipped a touch lower I've added leg warmers, and the silicone grippers have done their thing, keeping shorts and warmers perfectly aligned, even when I've been trying to keep tempo with the fixed on some more rapid descents.
On warmer days, the thinner mesh panels certainly help, and I've remained comfortable in the mid-20s with nothing worse than some very faint mistiness along my spine. This bodes well for indoor trainer sessions during the darker months, too.
Being slightly thicker than typical road bib shorts, the leg panels take longer to become wet, but also dry quicker than some with heavier weaves, such as Lusso's Adventure bib shorts.
Strategically positioned reflectives break up the otherwise ultra-practical, goes-with-anything black.
The shorts size up well – medium (European 4) has always been my default, and the Alturas fitted me as expected.
They also remain in very rude health after a month or so of testing, with no hint of deterioration. The odd nibble from affronted foliage on bridleways hasn't made any impact, and though the fabric's weight isn't quite in the same territory as Lusso's Adventures, I've no qualms about using these for cyclo-cross, gravel or rough stuff touring.
They're very easy to live with on the care front, too: pop in the machine, ideally at 30 degrees with minimal detergent, and hang out to dry. I've had no issues chucking them in with household loads at 40, either.
Their rrp of £60 is competitive. Polaris's Omnium Bib Shorts, also featuring a gel insert, come in a penny under at £59.99, but Sportful's entry-level Vuelta Bib Shorts are £70, while Lusso's Pro Gel Bib Shorts – probably a more direct comparator, employing a gel insert and offering UV50 protection – are £75.
Overall, the Progel Plus bib shorts are competitively priced and very comfortable. Though not a deal-breaker by any means, I found the legs marginally shorter than I'm used to (only slightly, I must say, we're not talking 80s Sean Yates territory), so it's worth taking a few measurements and checking the sizing charts if you're longer in the leg.
Comfortable bib shorts with nice features and a competitive price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Progel Plus Men's Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says: "The Progel Plus Bibshort is the latest evolution of our ever popular Progel style. Our Progel pad has been re-engineered using Italian materials and an innovative molded design exclusive to Altura. The pad includes dual density foam and rooted gel which not only provides excellent comfort but will retain its anatomical shape ride after your ride. We have also added soft feel bib straps and a high wicking mesh back panel to further enhance the comfort of the Progel Plus Bibshort whilst subtle reflective detailing will help to keep you stay visible at all times making these a real "go to" style for everyday rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Altura lists these details:
Re-engineered 3D Progel Plus pad
High wicking stretch fabric
Highly breathable mesh back panel
Branded soft feel straps
Elasticated leg grippers with internal silicon print
Fabrics seem durable and standards of stitching/general construction reassuringly good.
Nice for general riding and seem sturdy enough for off-road excursions. The pad is another definite plus.
No signs of bobbling or similar deterioration despite constant washing and wearing.
Generally excellent, although marginally shorter in the leg than I'm used to.
Everything works together very harmoniously.
Good value compared with other 'entry-level' designs.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward – in the machine at 30 degrees, minimal detergent. They've retained their shape and are pretty much packet fresh several weeks down the line.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For general road-biased riding, these have done exactly what they promise. The fabric is robust and grippy, offering excellent purchase atop traditional and leather saddles. Silicone grippers keep everything in situ, while the bibs feel good and secure without impeding movement. The mesh panel has proven effective at dispersing heat and the pad has only been noticed in the most positive sense.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good pad and overall performance, especially for the money.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not a dislike, just a minor niggle that the legs are marginally shorter than I'm used to.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Polaris's Omnium Bib Shorts are £59.99, while Sportful's Vuelta Bib Shorts are £70, and Lusso's Pro Gel Bib Shorts – probably a more direct comparator, employing a gel insert and offering UV50 protection – are £75.
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 overall score
They're very good: competitively priced, with decent specification and great performance.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)