Alé, pronounced 'Allez', are a pretty popular brand for women - they stock direct to Wiggle, and tell us sales of their kit with the online retailer are evenly split among the genders. Since many other brands see closer to 70/30, that tells us women are picking Alé above others - so we called in a range of summer and winter kit to see what all the fuss was about.
The brand name is new in the UK – but they’ve been operating for some time under the parent company, APG Cycling, who previously made Giordana cycling gear. Most notably in women’s cycling, they sponsor the pro team Alé–Cipollini–Galassia– and with the bold flouro kit, you’d be hard pushed to miss them in the peloton.
Since we're still in the early phases of spring, and the mornings are consistently sitting quite a way sub 10 degrees c, we started with the PRR Alé Alé Women’s Winter Bib tights and matching PRR Alé Alé Women’s Winter Jacket.
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that this jacket and bibs combo is loud.
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that this jacket and bibs combo is loud. There wasn’t a single ride I attended wearing this kit where that fact wasn’t commented on – but always in a favourable manner, and often to ask if Alé were a new local women’s team I was riding for. Something about bright colours and quality obviously gave a hint of semi-pro, or so I'd like to believe.
Appearance appreciation will come down to personal taste – the jacket does feature Alé's famous bubble design – and personally I’m all for it on the top half, but never on the bottom half. What’s more important in the long run is performance – and there I really did think Alé showed their worth.
Both pieces are available direct from Ale, but you'll also find a wide range of kit from the brand (some of it slightly less pricey) available online from Wiggle, or you can contact distributors Paligap.cc to find out which stores in your area stock the gear.
In a winter jacket, you’re looking for warmth with breathability – a top layer to keep the cold out, and the wind off, that doesn’t give you that ‘boil in a bag’ sensation. I do think this jacket has hit the nail in the head, as long as you’re after a garment that's relaxed and cosy. Unlike the majority of the range, it’s not a racy number – something most of us are thankful for over winter.
The PPR features three different fabrics – a thermal fleece inner which feels incredibly warm and soft, with a windfont laminated fabric on the front and sleeves to keep the cold breeze out, as well as an ‘LG Stability system’ on the hem to keep it all in place.
I found even on colder days at around 5 degrees, the fleece material was enough to keep the fresh breeze out when teamed with a long sleeved base layer – with a high collar and close fit cuffs contributing to the heating system. On warmer days – up to ten degrees, I’d wear it with a lighter base and still ride comfortably.
The windproofing certainly eliminates chills and though not waterproof, it does do a good job at keeping the worst off in light showers. This does mean that the fabric has a faint rustle about it as you move. You might expect this from a sturdy winter garment, but the fabric isn’t quite as flexible as some more race focused winter items. The fit is also fairly relaxed – I wore a Small, which by Italian sizing should be a tight fit (as is the case in Alé's summer range I’m also testing) but in this case I had a lot of breathing room. This was quite pleasant on winter rides, and also meant I threw the jacket on over a jumper when running to the shops a few times too – but it’s far removed from aero.
My favourite feature on the jacket – and actually on all of Alé's top half items – is the way the hem dips down at the hips and rises towards the zip that makes a set feel like an outfit designed to work together. In summer kit, I can see this aiding performance, almost creating an easier-to-wear speedsuit, but in this case I just think it looks quite nice.
There are three rear pockets, and a zipped compartment as you’d expect in an item at this price point.
Firstly – elephant in the room – if you go onto Alé's site, you’ll notice they seem to use the kind of marketing images that suggest women don’t wear sports bras with bibs. This is dangerous, and could result in the rider being punched in the face by their own assets – so please do not follow suit. I tested these bibs whilst wearing a sports bra and a base layer, and I’ve made Alé aware this is common practice for most women.
Aside from this, I think the bibs are excellent. They’re designed for cold to medium cold temperatures of around 5-10 degrees, and feature a soft fleece lining that is comfortable and keeps the warmth your body generates locked in.
The material is stretchy and there’s plenty of room for movement in the knees to eliminate any restriction, without any nasty chafe inducing bunching. The chamois is dual density, and provides plenty of relief for longer 3-4 hour excursions – I’ve not tried it over longer than that, but with no complaints I image you’d be fine all day. In short, these really are just a pleasure to wear.
The stitching around the quads is bright but doesn’t put any pressure on the skin or create any unsightly bulges, and there’s extra visibility from the printed logos and extra high viz details at the ankles and outer calfs. The bright nature however does mean if you’re of the cycling fashion crowd, you’ll probably only want to wear these if you’ve splashed out on the matching jersey.
Both the jacket and bib tights are excellent pieces of kit, and no doubt they'll form part of my winter armoury for some time to come. I was warm without overheating, and felt well cocooned without being restricted.
The sheer volume of highly technical kit Alé have available for women tells us that they treat the female segment with respect - and the fact they're headline sponsors for a pro team adds even more to our good impression. It's just a shame their product images haven't quite caught up with the developments - but hopefully we'll see that happen soon.