We were excited to receive and test a custom racing kit from ALÉ – designed and made totally in Italy. Pietro Caucchioli is a former Tour de France racer and President of ALÉ and is an integral influence on the design of their kits. The focus of many custom kit makers is to promote the image and size options for their products, but ALÉ’s kits are designed for high performance. I was blown away by the quality of the bib and jersey they made for us.
The first thing I noticed about the bib was the variety of unique materials. The straps are made from thin elastic ribbons that attach to a similarly light and flexible material that forms the back. The top part of the chamois also uses this type of material, and constitutes the most flexible part of the kit. This flexible connection performs most of the stretching so that it fits the rider’s upper body, while the straps function solely to maintain vertical alignment. What results is a lightweight design overall with almost no pressure on the shoulders while still remaining skin-tight around the body.
The sides and rear of the bib utilize a thicker material that excels both aerodynamically and in durability. In the event of a fall, these are the areas where the bib will make contact with the ground, so it is critical that they are the strongest. I fell off my bike during a small dirt drop while wearing this kit, and landed on my left hip while skidding along the dirt. Although there was a good amount of pain from the impact of the fall, the bib was unmarked. Thin and light elastic material comfortably secures the lower part of the bib to the thighs without sliding.
The padding in the chamois is perfectly shaped for a performance saddle and features a slight cutout in the center to prevent any blood-flow issues. This takes some pressure off of your sit bones, and adds zero chaffing to the thighs and hips.
The ALÉ custom jersey matched the high performance in of the bib. Also thin and lightweight, the jersey is breathable, comfortable, and durable enough to withstand normal use and even falls. The jersey we received featured three deep back pockets with strong elastic to keep valuables secure while you ride. A small zipper on the right pocket reveals a fourth compartment that allows small items to be sealed away with easy access.
The jersey fits skin-tight with no bunching in the front due to a contoured elastic strip at the bottom where it meets the front of the chamois. When the rider is bent over in riding position, the jersey slides over the bib and maintains the aerodynamic shape of the body. Coupled with all the external materials’ aerodynamic properties, riding in this kit actually feels appealingly different and smoothly comfortable as wind whips around thighs and torso.
This is an excellent performance option for clubs, teams, and events looking for a custom kit that delivers more than just an image or size options. ALÉ’s off-the-rack items also feature many of these advantages and are perfect for anyone looking for a higher quality kit. – VP
Visit alebikewear.com for more information.