What's Cool In Road Cycling

ALÉ Bike Wear R-EV1 Kit Review

The R-EV1 jersey and bibshorts are the newest addition to Alé Bike Wear’s fast growing line of top quality cycling kit for the road.  It’s priced at the mid-range, but delivers to a higher level on design, fit and construction – here’s a closer look.

 

Alé Bike Wear has been in the North American marketplace for just two seasons – but there’s a good chance you’ve worn their kit before when the company’s owners were making kit for another well known Italian brand.  What happened to that relationship is another story, but what you need to know is that there is room at the top of the cycling kit food chain for well made gear – and Alé has proven it with their lines and fast growing success of their custom business – two years of growth in the very competitive cycling apparel market is proof they’re doing some things right.

These are the same guys who’ve made kit for top pro teams like Motorola, CSC, Colnago, Tour de France, Liberty Seguros, Cofidis, Vini Fantini, Bardiani CSF, Cipollini – Alé Femminile, Caja-Rural, and even the French National team.

 

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The design is typical Alé Bike Wear – the fit is nice and snug, tailored for an athletic cyclist’s body.

 

Most of their kit is made in Italy – at their factory about an hour south of Verona – in that industrial belt across the Po plain that’s also home to about 95% of the best Italian cycling brands.  I know because I was there – and saw them make a full set of bibshorts and a vest – from all the separate pieces – right before my eyes.

The Alé Bike Wear R-EV1 kit was first spotted at Interbike last year, and by now I’ve had some time to log several decent rides and hours in my test samples.

Probably my favorite thing about the Alé kit is that it’s made in Italy, by Italian company APG, who’ve been producing high-end Italian kit for over 30 years.  Italians do fashion better than anyone – and there’s a good chance you’ve worn APG’s kit under another label.  I saw first hand their level of skill and quality when I visited the factory last year.

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Dozens of tailors sew the Alé kit in their Italian factory.

I watched them sew together a vest & pair of bibshorts right before my eyes (each one took about 45 minutes to make), and while they use modern sewing machines and the latest equipment for large scale cutting and sublimation, the garments are all created by actual people – skilled sewers who know excalty how to work with different materials to build the clothing that fits and forms perfectly to a cyclist’s body.  The whole process is pretty amazing to see, but something I rarely thought about as a rider.

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I’ve got more on the production below, but let’s get back to the R-EV1 jersey.

 

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R-EV1-Jersey – US$160

The cut is the same as their popular PRR kit, but the R-EV1 uses different materials.  The short sleeved jersey is made from three different fabrics on the main panels, sleeves and stomach cuff.  The front is a fine polyester weave with a grid pattern of tiny perforated dots designed for the best combination of structure & ventilation.  The sides and back are made of what’s called BIO Ceramic Rib 1.30 –  which as the name suggests – is ribbed vertically.  The cool part is the Bio ceramic name refers to the fabric’s reported ability to maintain a constant temperature even under extremes like a hot sun, which could help keep you cooler while wearing it.

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Bioceramic materials can produce far infrared electromagnetic waves (FIR) that are believed to penetrate the body resulting in better recovery and “well being”.   The PEZ test-lab has no way to actually measure this, but if you can notice a difference, then why not enjoy the benefits of kit that’s said to aid in performance and recovery.

Stitching throughout is flatlock, and the threads are soft and pliable – resulting in a very comfortable and low profile fit.  The collar is a short – but with enough height still there to be called a collar.  It’s a design and fit consistent with what most racers and serious riders expect.  My size Small top fit my 136lb frame perfectly – something I expect from an Italian brand.

 

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Zipper is full length, low-profile, and locks into place so it stays flat when you’re riding.  The top and bottom ends of the zipper feature a soft ploy backing that prevents any zipper rub on base layers, skin, or bib shorts – nice when it comes to comfort and preventing unnecessary abrasion.

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The sleeve cuffs are what’s become the new standard length – that’s 2 – 3 inches long, and feature a full wrap light silicon dot pattern on the inside that keeps ’em in place perfectly.  The system works well, but all that silicon does inhibit the transfer of air, so some riders might find these cuffs hotter than others.

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The same fabric is also used across the front at the waist, and does a good job of holding the jersey in place when riding.    The jersey body is also cut shorter in front, and I found no bunching from added material when bent over in the riding position.  The rest of the waist uses a standard silicon strip as a gripper to hold the jersey in place.

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Out back are three standard sized pockets which stretch and hold plenty of supplies for your training day or race.  There’s also a 4th zippered pocket to store anything you really need to still be with you at the end of the ride.

 

The R-EV1 Bibshorts – US$220

This kit’s matching bibshorts are also based on the PR R model design, but use a different leg band, and most notably, an all new and very comfy chamois.

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But first – about those added production notes I mentioned earlier…

Here’s what bibshorts looks like as raw materials – before any sewing has started.  The pre-cut panels are assembled in stacks at each a sewing station, and that person performs a specific step in the process.  First, the leg panels and bibs straps are sewn together to create the main body.

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Next, the chamois is loosely stitched into place at one station…

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Then a batch of bibs is moved to the next station where another sewer will finish stitching the chamois in place.  Generally, orders travel together through the production process so nothing gets lost or misplaced.

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The chamois are then finished at another station where a different machine is used for the finer finishing stitching.

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Given the flexibility and stretch required of modern cycling garments, special threads have also been developed that stretch and give as well-  and they come in all colors.

Now –  back to the the R-EV1 bibshort.

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The bibs feature Alé’s signature design vented panel at the back of each leg.  It’s made from special carbon thread that aids in cooling,and in looking cool.

The legbands are substantial – ranging from 2″ in height in the inside seam, to 4 inches tall on the outside.  Graphically, they make a statement, and give the designers some serious real estate to play with when adding color.

Functionally, they also make a statement, since they’re made from the same “Exagon” silicon-backed poly-lycra material as the armbands on the jersey.  And like the jersey, they hold the legs in place very well, but some riders might notice they’re a bit warmer, as all those lycra dots tend to not breathe a well as some other fabrics.  I noticed the difference when I first pulled on the bibs, and then never noticed it again once I started riding.

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Once again, flatlock stitching is used throughout so seams lay flat against your skin for the most comfort.

But the real sweat deal on these is that chamois I mentioned.  Alé has always done very good chamois in their bibs, but this is the most comfortable one yet.  The outer layer that contacts your skin is a very fine material that is super-soft to the touch, but also works to draw moisture away from the skin  – which is what you want if you want to stay dryer and cooler.

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Underneath that soft layer and providing the padding is a high density 120kg foam layer, that’s shaped and cut to deliver padding where you need it most, and eliminate it where you don’t need it, so that the bib delivers excellent comfort without the bulk of a big chamois.

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The straps are pretty cool too – thin and stretchy with lazer cut edges to eliminate the need for a bulky seam, the inside of the traps is woven with a special lycra-coasted thread that holds them flat and in place.

ale16-rev1-bibstrapsThe leg panels  The front is pretty low cut for easy access and better temperature regulation, and the upper body side panels and back panel are a breathable mesh to add a small amount of structure without adding heat.

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The legs, front and back main panels are a lycra blend that’s been developed for durability and structure, and if you like a slightly higher-compression feel to your bibs, then you’ll like these.

 

Sum It Up
The number 1 criteria for me when choosing kit is fit, and the Alé cuts fit me very well.  …Check.

Second up is smart choice of fabrics that feel good against my skin, and also when I’m sweating and moving on the bike – it’s gotta feel as good after 3-4 hours as at the start – and again Alé hits it right on. The new chamois is fantastic, and the compression factor of the lycra also feels very good on both short and long rides.

Third – durability is a big issue – I want kit to last.  Just about every top end brand is using high grade fabrics that do last longer than ever before, but the quality of the workmanship is something that’s not always equal across brands especially when reducing costs is so important in the current down cycle of the road cycling business.  I’ve ridden and washed the R-EV1 kit about a dozen times now, and every part of it still looks brand new (in fact I shot these photos after several rides and washes).

I’ve also had good experience with another model Alé kit that I’ve been using for over a year now, and it still looks like new as well. Finally – having seen the factory myself, and watched the skill and care that goes into making all the Alé kit (including their gear for custom orders – the same custom orders you can buy for your team or club), they’ve ticked all the boxes on my “how good this kit is” hit list.

But maybe the best part is that the R-EV1 is priced at the mid-range – but delivers at the top end of technical cycling kits.

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The kit is offered in men’s and women’s versions, (short sleeved jerseys, bibshorts and a skinsuit.)

The R-EV1 kit comes in seven sizes from XS to 3XL.

• See more at AléBikeWear.com

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