GEAR: As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Good kit makes all the difference… so for those willing to brave the cold… here’s a closer look at Alé Bikewear PRS Logo DWR Long Sleeve Jersey, Graphics PRR Bibtights, and S1-Fall Baselayer.
For those not familiar with Alé Bikewear (pronounced like the French word allez), it’s an Italian company (they design and produce most of their line in Italy) with roots in cycling that go back 30 years. In the pro peloton, their kit is worn by Groupama-FDJ and Movistar. And Julian Alaphilippe won the 2020 Worlds in Alé kit. You’ve likely seen ’em here on PEZ too – as Charles reviewed their Green Kit last summer.
PRS Logo DWR Long Sleeve Jersey – $179.99
The PRS Logo DWR Long Sleeve Jersey is what I would call a mid-weight jersey that Alé rates “for temperatures between 46 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit.” The inside is fleece/flannel lined for warmth and the DWR means the outside has durable water repellant treatment (but not waterproof) designed to keep water and other icky stuff from penetrating the fabric. It’s worth noting that DWR coatings on fabric aren’t permanent. Regular wear and tear will eventually cause the DWR coating to wear off. Fortunately, you can restore the DWR treatment – either with a spray-on or wash-in solution.
Soft fleece/flannel on the inside
The jersey is constructed with five panels in the main body (not including the collar), set-in sleeves that each have three panels (not including the cuffs), and three separate hem panels at the bottom of the jersey. The collar is high cut (think turtleneck) and lined with a soft neoprene-like material. The cuffs are also a soft neoprene-like material that’s doubled over for a little extra thickness, which provides more grip and insulation.
High collar for added warmth
One thing to note is that all the seams are serge stitched. If you were wearing this jersey against bare skin, that might be bothersome to some people. But since this is a cold weather jersey, you’re probably going to be wearing a base layer underneath so not having flat-stitched seams isn’t so much an issue.
It wouldn’t be Alé without some flou
The back of the jersey has the required three pockets, which are big enough to hold all the stuff I need to carry on winter rides. Interestingly, the middle pocket is sub-divided the length of the pocket width-wise so that it’s two pockets in one. At first, I wasn’t sure what the reasoning was for this. It’s not like it actually creates more carrying capacity. Then it occurred to me that it would allow you to carry a smart phone in one section and keep it separated/protected from other stuff in the other section. One thing the back of the jersey doesn’t have is a separate secure zipper pocket. Not a deal breaker, but a feature found on many of Alé’s short sleeve jerseys.
The middle jersey pocket is a duplex
Stuff I was able to stuff in the jersey pockets: (left) rain jacket; (middle) mini pump and my re-purposed hard drive soft case that carries a spare tube, tire levers, CO2 cartridge plus regulator, and a few other odds and ends; and (right) my phone plus ID, debit card, cash in a slide-lock waterproof wallet
It would be a surprise if the jersey wasn’t full-zip
Silicone gripper to help keep the jersey in place while riding
Fit-wise, the PRS Logo DWR Long Sleeve Jersey is pretty much race fit – at least through the body. It hugged my torso like a second skin with just enough room underneath for a winter weight base layer. If you’ve managed to put on a couple pounds over the holidays, there won’t be any hiding them. The arms, however, were a little “looser” – but that’s relative to how the rest of the jersey fits – so provide a little more ease of movement.
Graphics PRR Bibtights – $164.99
In the “old days,” winter riding meant wearing bib shorts and then tights over them. That worked for keeping my legs warm (or at least not cold), but the extra layer of the tights over the bib shorts meant that my butt wasn’t parked in my saddle exactly the same as it would be if I was just wearing bib shorts. It also meant that it was possible for my bib shorts to slide inside the tights. We’re talking small differences, but differences nonetheless. Bibtights fix that.
The Graphics PRR Bibtights are made with SuperRoubaix fabric (made by the Italian company M.I.T.I.). It’s a heavier weight and thicker stretch fabric with a brushed lining for added warmth. Alé rates the bibtights “for temperatures between 39 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.” In addition to thermal insulation, the fabric is also supposed to provide some measure of wind and water protection.
The bib section is nothing new (because the basic design of bibs works and there’s no need to fix what ain’t broken): high cut front, wide-ish straps, and Y-back. One difference from the Alé bib shorts I previously reviewed is that the straps are seamed rather than laser cut. I’ve become a fan of the latter, but the former aren’t uncomfortable and certainly not a deal breaker. It’s also worth noting that the back panel of the bib section is the same SuperRoubaix fabric used throughout.
If I counted correctly, the rest of the Graphics PRR Bibtights consists of 11 panels — all with flat-stitched seams except for the panels for the chamois, which are serge stitched. The rationale for having so many panels is to provide better fit and movement.
The bottom hem of the legs have silicone gripper on the inside to keep them in place
Touches of fluo at the bottom of the legs
Speaking of the chamois, Alé makes their own inhouse, and uses here their 4HF Shammy that is designed to be comfortable for up to 4 hours of saddle time. Most of my winter riding is usually shorter distances, but I’m sure there are people who do more than 4 hour rides during the winter. The Alé 4HF Shammy uses 90 kg/cm2 density padding in the ischiatic area (essentially the part of your butt around your sit bones) vs 120 kg/cm2 density in their 8HF Shammy rated for 8 hours. Obviously, you can ride as long as you want and comfort is a personal thing – so Alé also offers the 8HF Shammy for you guessed it – up to 8 hour rides, it’s the Alé Klimatik K-IDRO WR Bibtight.
The 4HF Shammy is is dimpled to provide air flow, uses different firmness/density padding of different firmness/density in the various sections, and has a central channel for perineal relief, i.e., the important bits
I said that the Alé R-EV1 Agonista Plus Bib Shorts I previously reviewed “may be the most comfortable bib shorts I’ve ever worn.” The Graphic PRR Bibtights have a similar level of comfort. They’re easy to get into and provide just the right amount of compression, i.e., firm enough without feeling like you’re being squeezed into a sausage casing. And the brushed fabric on the inside is soft and smooth against bare skin.
S-1 Fall Base Layer – $94.99
A good base layer that provides both thermal insulation and wicking is absolutely essential for winter riding. The S-1 Fall Base Layer checks those boxes by using Dryarn high performance microfiber, which provides thermal insulation but also breathability to wick away perspiration. In that respect, it’s easy to think that the S-1 Fall Base Layer is a lot like most base layers from top manufacturers. From a functionality standpoint, that’s more or less true and it’s just a matter of how well different base layers perform compared to each other. But where the S-1 Fall base layer stands out from the crowd can be summed up with one word: style. Così va bene!
Honestly, this has to be the coolest (as in looks, not its temperature properties) base layer ever. Whereas most base layers look like a long sleeve t-shirt, the S-1 Fall Base Layer looks like something a superhero would wear. There are multiple sections, each with a different pattern and texture. You would think all the different sections are each a separate panel of the base layer, but they’re not really. I don’t know how they’re put together, but they’re not with seams. The only visible seams are where the raglan sleeves connect to the body of the base layer (flat stitched), a seam that runs the length of each sleeve (also flat stitched), and the seams for the sleeve ends, collar, and hem.
A whole lotta different patterns and textures
The S-1 Fall Base Layer fit me as you would expect a base layer to fit, which is to say form fitting aka comfortably tight with light compression. The Dryarn material was soft against my skin but not perfectly smooth because of the texturing of all the different sections. I could feel the texturing against my skin. It was different than a smoother material such as merino wool, but not uncomfortable or irritating. Combined with the flat seam stitching, no rubbing or chafing.
A word about sizing. I’m 5’8″ tall and weigh 130 pounds, and per Alé’s size guide, I’m either size S or XS. But Alé says: “Please note our garments run on the smaller side so if you are right on the border or between sizes, please order at least one size up.” So all the kit in this review is size small (I also know from previous experience with Alé I wear size small in their kit).
Base layer or Bat armor?
Keep calm and enjoy winter
My maiden voyage in the Alé kit was a short ride on a 40F afternoon with 15-18 mph winds. This is below the temperature rating for the PRS Logo DWR Long Sleeve Jersey and near the lower bound for the Graphics PRR Bibtights. But neither are advertised as being windproof so I wasn’t sure how they’d do with 32F windchill. The answer was: surprisingly well.
In the sun, I was comfortable enough. But I could definitely feel the cold in the shade. More so when I was on streets lined by tall buildings creating a canyon with a wind tunnel effect. I could definitely feel the wind through the jersey (but I expected that since it’s not billed as being windproof). Despite pushing the limits of the Alé kit’s stated specs, my core stayed warm enough to ward off shivers or any other bone chilling effects (for the record: I’m of tropical ethnic heritage with relatively low tolerance for cold). If I had been out for a longer ride (especially if not exposed to a lot of sunlight), I would’ve wanted a windproof layer — either a gilet or jacket.
I could tell that the 4HF Shammy was probably not quite as firm as the 8HF Shammy I’ve ridden in Alé’s R-EV1 Agonista Plus Bib Shorts, but it was still firm enough and comfortable enough perched on my Prologo Scratch M5 PAS saddle. I can’t attest to how well the Graphics PRR Bibtights will do on longer rides, but my seat-of-the-pants (or is that chamois?) meter doesn’t give me any reason to believe that they won’t feel as comfortable as they did on my first ride (about an hour). I can say that the SuperRoubaix material kept my legs warm and managed to ward off the wind.
Another thing Alé gets right is how the jersey grips at the bottom. Between the silicone gripper at the back and the firm compression at the hem, it holds tight so no cold air can get in.
I did, however, have two minor niggles (but neither one was a deal breaker). First, the full-length zipper on the PRS Logo DWR Long Sleeve Jersey has a zipper garage at the bottom but not at the top. Since the zipper pull isn’t a cam-lock design, that means it’s possible for the zipper pull to flop around while riding. Second, the jersey zipper doesn’t have a storm flap behind it for that #marginalgains protection against wind. That said, riding in the wind I didn’t notice any more cold draft coming through the zipper than the rest of the jersey (which isn’t rated as windproof).
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to spring and warmer weather. But in the meantime, I’ll do my best to “enjoy” the cold. For sure, the Alé kit will make riding in the cold a little more bearable.
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