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February 2, 2015 – Last summer we were lucky enough to ride the Eddy Merckx Gran Fondo in Italy. The 135km route near Veneto covered three serious climbs, including the massive 1316meter San Valentino. We learned three things – most Italian riders have three percent body fat, climb very quickly and almost universally wear fluro-yellow.
Ben Edwards/Images courtesy Alé
We saw pretty quickly that the majority of those kits were made by an Italian apparel start up named Alé. It has the same meaning and pronunciation as the French word Alléz, and means the same thing, ‘Go!’ or ‘Come on!’ It’s the most common word heard on European roadsides as the peloton streams by.
Alé was launched at Eurobike back in 2013 and is now coming to the states. How can this start-up hope to gain a foothold in the crowded apparel market? Becasue they aren’t really a start up. Alé is the first consumer brand from APG, an apparel maker with over three decades of experience in cycling. Until now it had remained behind the scenes making apparel for some of the biggest and most well respected names.
How big are they? The numbers are mind blowing. The company cranks out 130,000 pieces of apparel every month, they make custom clothing for over 9000 teams, clubs and events. Alé’s parent company has helped develop some of the most cutting edge technology in apparel. It’s been perfecting the latest fabric craze, carbon yarn, for more than five years.
Not surprisingly Alé comes out of the gate with an impressive line up. It consists of three main lines, Plus, Ultra and PR.R. Plus, Alé’s entry-level gear, features fairly simple patterning and a roomier sportive style fit, while still featuring very breathable, light weight fabrics not typically seen in entry level apparel. Ultra provides a slightly more fitted cut with very technical fabrics including micro-perforated Lycra and carbon infused rear panels.
PR.R stands for Pro Race Research and, as the name implies, represents Ale’s pinnacle developed hand-in-hand with its professional squads. It’s a very fitted, race cut made with ultra light 130gram micro-perforated fabric called ‘Finezza 44’ up front and a quick dry, carbon infused rear panel. On initial fitting the standout feature of this jersey appears to be the fit. The fabric’s quality of stretch is incredible. It removes much of the anxiety from choosing which size to wear as you will likely find both your usual size and a size down will fit very well. While PR.R certainly hugs the form it is much more forgiving of a few pounds of winter weight than typical Italian race fit apparel.
Alé makes all its own chamois tailored to four different kinds of riders. They have a 2H (two hour) a 4H, 4H women’s and an 8H chamois. The professionals ride the 8H, which features a denser pad, not a thicker pad. All of these three lines can be made custom for your team, including wind tunnel proven skin suits. The rest of Ale’s line is extensive with base layers, warmers, jackets for all conditions, vests and a breathable, thermal, water resistant line called Klimatik.
Where Alé seems to be very far ahead of the curve is pricing. It’s Plus entry level kit is $110 and $120 for jersey and bibs respectively. The Ultra’s only increase price by $15 for the bibs and $10 for the jersey. Even the PR.R line avoids the astronomical prices we see many the brands charging at $150 and $160 for jersey and bibs respectively. That makes Alé’s top of the line kit less expensive than some brand’s bibs. If the qualiy is as good as Alé claims, this ‘start-up’ is sure to generate a fast and loyal following.
Peloton will be riding the PR.R line and some examples from the Klimatik line. Stay tuned for a full ride review.