Àle Cycling Fall Clothing Review
A review of the Àle Cycling Course Combi Jacket and Clima Winter Bib Shorts.
My favorite clothing brands for the last few years have been Castelli and Assos. They each have things about them that I like and so I haven’t spent a lot of energy looking elsewhere. Luckily a press release cover Àle Cycling fall clothing happened across my, virtual, desk. After having a chance to ride with the Àle Course Combi jacket and the Clima Winter bib shorts I have a new favorite!
Àle cycling has bumped long time favorites from well known companies out of my closet.
A lot of people transition through the seasons slowly. They move from short sleeve jerseys, to long sleeve, and finally to a jacket. That’s rarely the way that things seem to go for me. Instead I move quickly from short sleeve jerseys to jackets. I don’t own any long sleeve jerseys. For a long stretch of time in the spring, and fall, my favorite pieces of road cycling clothing are soft shell jackets. The Àle Course Combi fills that need but it also has a couple of extra tricks.
Since writing about the Rapha Proteam Softshell jacket way back in 2015, it has been my go to softshell. It’s the jacket I grab when I’m definitely going to leave my jacket on but it’s not particularly cold or wet. As such, I’ve put in a lot of miles while wearing the Rapha softshell. The Àle Course Combi jacket has now completely replaced the Rapha jacket in my closet. It’s my new pick for best in class.
Like any good softshell it breaths as well as a jersey while also managing to be pretty water resistant. I’m not sure at what point the rain would overwhelm the Àle Course Combi jacket. My first test was in a total downpour for about three hours and it performed perfectly. I combined the Àle jacket with an Assos deep winter base layer. In temperatures around 50 degrees (F) with heavy rain I was as warm and comfortable as possible. The real trick of this jacket isn’t actually it’s ability to handle cold weather. Especially in the middle temperatures of fall and spring it’s not that hard to make a jacket warm enough. What sets the Àle Course Combi jacket apart is its ability to handle warmer weather.
From the outside the Àle jacket looks like other softshells. There is a standard three pocket arrangement in the rear and a nice long waist hem with silicone gripper tape. The front is simple and uncomplicated with a great fit. There is a nice high collar to keep the wind and cold out as well. Unzip the outer layer though and you will find another zipper. That outer layer is where the wind stopper fabrics are. What’s inside, with that secondary zipper, is an insulating layer in a contrasting color. This combination of wind stopping outer fabric along with inner insulation allows you to unzip the outer layer when you are hot.
You still enjoy the insulation of that inner layer but you’ve removed the wind stopper to provide ventilation. Attaching the inner layer at the sides also means less flapping when unzipped. An unzipped outer layer, such as a typical windshell, has a lot of space to move around. The Àle Course Combi jacket design makes it so there’s only a small bit of loose fabric that can move. It’s a genius design and it’s completely unique.
Along with the Course Combi jacket I’ve also been testing the Clima Winter bib shorts. A winter bib short sounds a bit odd but I’ve actually covered them a couple of times in the past. I looked at the Rapha Pro Team Thermal bib shorts in 2015 and the Castelli Nano Flex 2 bib tight in 2018 (later replaced by the Nano Flex pro 2 omloop). All three companies are aiming at a similar use but each has a slightly unique way to get there. Àle took the Clima Winter bib shorts in more of a wet weather direction.
Unlike the Rapha, or Castelli, take on the winter bib short you won’t find any fleece. You will find taped seams. The fabric used is like a standard summer bib short except a bit thicker and with a durable water repellent treatment. There’s no obvious band on the outside which matches modern design trends for bib shorts. Silicone on the inside of the legs keeps them from slipping.
Taped seams and thicker fabric make for a wide range of useable temperatures for the Clima Winter bib shorts.
Despite the focus on wet weather the Clima Winter bib shorts work very well in colder fall and spring temperatures even when dry. The thicker fabric used adds enough insulation. When paired with knee warmers the Clima Winter bib shorts can cover a wide temperature range. Be aware, the Clima Winter bibs are very fitted. I find the tight fit to be one of my favorite features but definitely size up if you like a looser fit. I also find the chamois to be farther forward than other bibs.
It’s easy to get lost in the technicalities of cycling clothing. Àle does a great job of including the needed features while also making great looking clothing.
Aside from all the performance details the Àle Course Combi jacket and the Clima Winter bib shorts are good reminders that technical cycling gear is still clothing. The fit and design from Àle is so good that I grab these pieces anytime the weather might be a match. The technical features mean that there is a wide range of temperature in which they work and I’ve had lots of chances to spend time in the Àle shoulder season gear. The Àle Course Combi jacket has an MSRP of $299.99 and the Clima Winter bib shorts run $189.99. Hopefully I’ll have more opportunities to bring you Àle cycling reviews from in the future because I’m a big fan after these pieces.