When you’re considering spending £170 (or thereabouts) on a pair of bib shorts, you want to know that your investment is going to be sound. Alé’s Fusion HD bib shorts, the Italian brand’s all-round performance option, hit just about every check point worth mentioning.
Let’s start with the central component of any bib short: the chamois. It’s the ‘Double Ergo HF’ model, and put simply, it’s fantastic. The denser padding found in the main section is plushy for long days in the saddle, while the less dense sections in the middle channel and around the outside help to ensure weight is distributed to more hardy zones.
Dimples throughout add texture to the surface, which in my experience helps to reduce potential numbness, while there’s a frontal section with minimal padding that offers antibacterial protection for the crotch. It’s a wide unit, which makes you suppose that it’d be bulky to wear, but in reality it’s not at all while proving plenty breathable too.
The one flaw that I can see is that the finish around the edges is a little haphazard – you can see the grey EPS foam edges sticking out under the flouro yellow anti-bacterial cover. It’s a non-issue in terms of performance, and it doesn’t seem to suffer in the wash, but it’d be nice to see a tidier finish in a bib short as expensive as the Fusion HDs.
Elsewhere, it’s the Fusion name that hints towards the bib short’s construction. The main body, side panels, rear strap section, front strap section and the back panel are all different, with the aim of integrating aerodynamics, ergonomics, muscular support and a high-level finish.
It’s been achieved with plenty of success. The leg cut is medium-long on my leg (I have reasonably long femurs), and that allows the main fabric to do its job of being mildly compressive. Over long rides, I found this helped keep my quads feeling a touch fresher than I might expect (even if I didn’t notice any bump in power output).
"They’re true summer bib shots, as proven by rides in the UK’s unusually summery weather of late"
The side panels feature a hexagonal dimple texture, which is said to benefit aero performance as air passes over the leg and hip area. It’s impossible to tell accurately how much it helps, but it complements the compression elsewhere so feels good at any rate.
Plus, despite the differing fabrics and their features, breathability in the panels is excellent as claimed. They’re true summer bib shots, as proven by rides in the UK’s unusually summery weather of late.
The hems don’t feature a gripper, instead using the compressive nature of the fabric to form its own grip on the leg. I like this solution – it’s the most comfortable style of creating an optimum fit here, while allowing a little movement as the fabric settles without risking chafing.
Up at the bib section, care has been taken to bond the front and back sections together while maintaining the one-piece feel, and the straps themselves are flat and very elasticated. In my relatively aggressive position on the bike, they distribute tension brilliantly, and the lasered holes in the panel can only assist with ventilation.
We had a medium in for testing which, judging from my experiences with many other medium bib shorts, fits about perfectly. There’s a snug feel as the shorts cocoon your mid-section, but that’s a legacy of the generally compressive nature of the short: performance-oriented, certainly, but not cutting or restrictive.
As a premium bib short, Alé’s Fusion HD model is very impressive indeed. Sure, there’s the slight niggle with the finish of the (otherwise excellent) chamois, but other than this they’re nigh on perfect, and can live up to their £170 asking price.
- Excellent ‘Double Ergo HF’ chamois
- Aero features
- Comfortable fit and compression
- Chamois edges a little rough