What's Cool In Road Cycling

ALÉ BikeWear KLIMATIK Kit Review

Newcomer ALÉ BikeWear’s Klimatik line of cold and wet weather riding gear impresses with fit, materials, and designs that could only come from people who know road cycling, and are, well… Italian.

New to the US, the Italian brand’s winter line is impressive, and worth a closer look. The standout feature of Alé Bike Wears’ Klimatik line is the material – it insulates, it repels water, it’s comfy – pretty much the Swiss Army knife of cool & wet weather fabrics.

What the ALÉ?
The name comes from the age old cycling cheer we often hear as “allez!” – meaning “to go” in French, but the brand is Italian. It’s owned by established clothing manufacturer APG Cycling – which means they’ve got experience, production and a successful background in the clothing biz – and there’s a good chance you’ve worn kit made by them for other labels.

Coming into the hotly contested and over-crowded North American cycling clothing market, in their favor is a real Italian heritage – including design and production from the land that pretty much sets the bar on what the world wears when it comes to looking good. And with that heritage comes quality – if there’s one thing Italians take pride in (besides delicious food, sexy sports cars, and hot women) it’s fashion – well made, well fitting garments that define the meaning of luxurious (they practically invented the word – “luxuria” hails from ancient Latin).

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The Klimatik line is Ale Bike Wear’s the most complete and dedicated rain & cold weather performance range – it’s priced in the mid-range, with most items falling around the sweet-spot of $150 – $200. But the quality, design, and performance have it punching well above the mid-priced category.

The gear made a splashy entrance at this year’s rainy Giro when more than a few teams (some sponsored and some who just wanted to stay dry and warm) pulled on the gear on the Passo Stelvio stage when the terrible weather caused havoc as the organizers fuddled over whether the race was on or off. Ideal conditions for this stuff.

The line is pretty complete with short-sleeve jersey, bib shorts & tights, arm & leg warmers, light vest and rain jacket, and shoe covers.  While a lot of brands don’t pay enough attention to the winter or wet months, it says a lot about Ale’s intentions when they show up to the party with a very complete range of gear designed specifically for uses in crappy weather.

KLIMATIK UNISEX CYCLING JERSEY – US$195

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Fit & Design
If there’s one thing that drives me nuts it’s cycling kit flapping in the wind as you ride along. Either take it off or zip it up – and if it still flaps – get some that fits. Alé is a performance brand, and it is Italian, which means fit is going to be good – and it is: trim, snug and athletic. They come in seven sizes from XS to 3XL, so there’s something to fit most PEZ-Fans, and make you look better than you may have thought possible in the winter.

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The mid-weight, fleece lined poly-blend material features a water barrier that does a very good job repelling the water.  See those beads above…

The jersey material is a fleece-lined mid-weight, 4-way stretch poly-lyrca blend with a full zip in front, and slightly higher collar that comes with a soft fabric cover over the zip top for comfort at the Adam’s apple. The sleeves are slightly longer – more of a racer length – these extended almost to my elbows – better for keeping me warm. The stretchy material fits snugly here too, eliminating the need for grippers to hold the sleeve down, since the whole sleeve functions as a gripper.

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Pulling the jersey on for the first time, it had a certain “scuba” feel & look to it, which was kinda cool. The all black kit is pretty stealth and should be a hit with dealers and anyone who loves the classic cycling look.  – the main body is two panels – a right and left side that extend around the torso to under the arms, plus one panel for the back, and one panel each for the sleeves – simple elegance.

The whole jersey is made from just five panels: fewer panels = fewer seams = fewer entry points for water. And because the material is so stretchy, there’s no real need for zillions of panels to keep the fit smooth and stylish – and again you can trust the Italian designers to cut this garment to fit right.

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While the whole material is very breathable, but also quite water “repellent” – the three rear pockets are made of a 3-layer laminated water “proof” material, with a tuckable butt cover that can extend well down to keep away the rear wheel spray and add some warmth when the weather gets nasty. There’s even a handy flap sewn over the pocket tops to ensure your stow stays dry.

If the weather is that bad most of us would pack a rain jacket – but this jersey will hold its own on any suspect day in the high mountains. I’d for sure opt for this on a day threatening rain, or even a summer day ride in high mountains where temps aren’t too high to start and guy know will cool off at the top. The real proof for me though, was the number of pros wearing this gear in the worst weather at the 2014 Giro – including the Alé sponsored the Bardiani team.

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KLIMATIK UNISEX CYCLING BIBSHORTS – US$155

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The bibshorts are the same material as the jersey, and why not, when it works this well. Again simplicity of design is at the front – this is a three-panel construction that’s well suited to the mid-weight nylon-polyester blend, four-way stretch fleece material. It’s warm and does a good job repelling water.

The legs are slightly longer than on Ale’s summer-weight bibs, (a good thing for cold weather gear) and stay in place with a 2 inch lycra band around the leg bottoms.  I paired these bibs up with the matching leg warmers to get through the full winter at PEZ HQ and I was comfortable in cold as low as 6-7Celsius.

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The straps are a high T-back that stay put and don’t fold over on themselves – at least they didn’t on my shoulders.

Ale offers 4 different chamois across the line – and the Klimatic Bibshorts come with their “Medium Distance” version. It’s a good one – the soft fleece on the skin side has been nothing but comfortable for me all through the winter. It’s breathable, and padded where you need it and not padded where you don’t.

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The medium density pad offers good coverage across the sit bones and through the crotch, with a small cutout at the perineum to aid in ‘exhaust’ and reduce pressure in the region. It’s a four-way stretch too that’s designed to move with the rider, and frontal coverage is perfectly acceptable for the coffee stop.

KLIMATIK UNISEX LONG-SLEEVED JACKET – US$245

I also tested the light weight rain jacket and vest.  Both are made from a basically water-proof material called SHIELD that works two ways – it completely blocks water entry from the outside, but still allows moisture vapour to escape from the inside.  A miracle of modern science I know (and one we’ve seen before) – but watch this short video for the PEZ SINK test in action…

On a particularly cold day I paired the vest over the Klimatik jersey and arms, and stayed very warm and comfy without over heating – I was impressed.

The jacket weighs only 195 grams, and is easily storable into a jersey pocket (the medium sized vest weighs just 125g).

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Both the jacket and vest feature sealed zippers with a wind-blocking backing to stop cold air getting in.

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A final note on the arm and knee warmers– both are made from the same material as the jersey and bibs, and simply cut from one piece of material and sewn with one seam. The knees are articulated at the thigh for a better fit, but the natural stretch of the material ensures a snug and form fitting… fit. I really liked the mid-weight of the material as it added a lot of warmth, and the overlap under the jersey sleeves and bib shorts’ legs made for a warm enough ensemble that pretty much took me through my coldest rides this winter (5-6C degrees).

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Price
– Klimatik short sleeve jersey 195.00 $
– bib shorts 135.00 $
– bib tights 155.00 $
– arm warmers 55.00 $
– knee warmers 65.00 $
– leg warmers 75.00 $
– shoe cover 60.00 $
– rain jacket 513 245.00 $
– rain vest 513 175.00 $
– rain jacket 755 210.00 $
– rain vest 755 150.00 $

Color
A note on colors – especially since so many of us are wanting brightly colored fabrics to make us more visible to cars.  At the moment Ale offers only black, but are anticipating adding a yellow flu to the line.  The issue is technical – the water proofing process of term material doesn’t mix well with material dyes.

Bottom Line
A lot of brands are offering jackets and tights for cold weather, and a couple even have wet weather-specific gear. But few offer top level kit that lets you feel like it’s summer in the dead of winter. The Klimatik line from Ale Bikeway is clearly designed for competitive and serious riders who want performance grade kit that fits well, looks good, and really delivers in the comfort zone. Riding in crap weather is bad enough without feeling the cold and wet right next to your skin, and staying dry and warm when the weather ain’t is what being comfortable is all about, and the difference between actually enjoying being out there and logging some quality miles when others are stuck indoors (they don’t call them “pain caves” for nothing).

The Klimatik line delivers the tech that works, and fit that doesn’t interfere with the getting down to the business of riding & training in typical winter weather, and enjoying both a lot more than you would wearing the floppy baggy hip-wading Sou-Wester-style togs that you can find on the ‘winter’ rack at too many local shops.

Pricing is right on the money for technical kit of this level, and considering most of us will buy and use the winter gear for several seasons, it should be an easy buy and investment for most of you serious enough to keep the wheels turning outside fro November through February.

Get more info at the ALE BIKEWEAR Website.

If it’s not in a shop near you, contact the North American distributor directly, or pass this info onto your shop:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (+1) 813-261-5098

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