APG have been making bike clothing since 1979, and decided last year to stop making clothing for Giordana (anyone who’s used Giordana in the past will immediately notice that certain bits of the Alé collection are very similar in materials and fit) and branch out on their own with the Alé brand. The clothing is designed and made in Italy so you know you’re getting something from a country rich in cycling heritage.
And Alé have jumped right in at the deep end in their native Italy, and already sponsor Southeast Pro Cycling (formerly Neri-Sottoli), Bardiani Valvole and the Alé-Cipollini-Galassia women’s pro team. You may remember Neri Sottoli as being characterised by an enticing (or appalling, depending on your point of view) amount of fluro yellow. And that love of bright colours has definitely trickled down to the Alé range, as you can see with the PRR Alé Alé jacket. In fact, the whole range is a combination of black and a counterpart bright colour. It’s a very simple colour scheme, but one that keeps almost all of the kit looking uniform and comparatively clutter free.
In fact, the Alé PRR Alé Alé Jacket (yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful) here is just about the most outlandish piece of kit that Alé currently do and, as such, is something that I didn’t immediately warm to. It’s not the fluro colour, but more the rather polarising bubble pattern that adorns the lower half. However, the design did grow on me over time and the main bonus from a practical point of view is that it’s really rather high vis, which made the jacket a good choice for misty morning rides. While the women’s version is available in black and pink, the men’s version only comes in this fluoro bubble getup. The better news was that after the first long, chilly ride in the jacket any issues with the looks were extinguished by its performance.
The front and lower back of the jacket are lined with a light, fleecy Roubaix-style material which, coupled with the close fit, make the jacket exceptionally good at retaining heat. Alé say that it’s meant for ‘intermediate seasons and mild temperatures’, but with the right layering underneath I found heat retention good enough to ride in mid to high single figures without any issues.
The material used is also slightly stretchy, so the jacket moves with you rather than restricting movement which is especially comfortable when you’re out of the saddle. With that in mind, it’s just as well that the grippers on the bottom of the jacket do a good job, and the jacket stayed in place even on short, very steep climbs where I was out of the saddle and moving all over the place. The front of the jacket is race cut, which is to say that the bottom edge is cut in a u-shape so that it rises up in the middle meaning no bunching up when you’re down on the drops. It might look at little odd when you’re off the bike, but when riding it’s another small cycling-specific touch that makes things a bit more comfortable.
The higher collar and tight cuffs are two other small touches that increase both comfort and the ability to keep body heat in, while the upper section of the back is breathable so that you don’t end up feeling like you’re riding in a sauna. The jacket uses a fabric on the outer called ‘Event: let the sweat out’, designed to combine waterproofing and breathability. It certainly delivers on the breathability front, but when it comes to waterproofing I’d certainly describe it as water resistant rather than waterproof. If you’re out in light rain, you’ll shrug it off without any worries, but if you’re out and the heavens open then you’re getting wet. It may take a few minutes, but the water will find its way in.
Three large pockets on the back provide excellent storage, but it’s worth noting that although the tops are elasticated to make sure that things don’t all out, there are no flaps for extra protection. Personally I prefer it this way as it’s easier to get your hand into the pockets, especially with full-finger gloves on, but it does mean that rain can get in quite easily. There’s an extra pocket for valuables on the right hand side as well, and the zip has reflective detailing which is a nice little touch.
It’s also worth adding that as Alé are Italian, they have the same sizing trends that you’d expect. What we mean by that is that certain bits in Alé’s collection come up smaller than an equivalent made elsewhere. The jacket is available in sizes M-XXXXL, starting at medium as it comes up small (though, as a result, you may struggle to find the right size if you’re at the smaller end of the spectrum). Check out their size chart before you buy or, ideally, try on the bit of kit you’re after.
Alé’s PRR Alé Alé Jacket is a really versatile bit of kit. Stick it on as a top layer on cold days and it’ll do its part to keep the heat in, but have it over just a base layer in the spring and it’ll work well as a light jacket too. Comfort-wise it’s up there with anything I’ve tested, and the construction quality and fit justify its £160 price tag. Alé are aiming to become a big player in the bike apparel market and its pieces like this that reinforce their credentials.