Altura's 20-year involvement in cycling gear is celebrated with these new Sportive 97 Progel bib shorts. They offer impressive performance, fit and comfort for a competitive price.
The shiny Lycra used in their construction gives the shorts a retro look, but the performance is far from it. Altura says that its Dry technology fabric is engineered to move excess moisture away from the skin and it must work pretty well as the few warm and muggy days we've had recently didn't get the shorts feeling wet or clammy.
The only downside with the fabric is that it feels quite thin, and if it rubs against a jersey zip for instance or you catch it on something it pulls and bobbles really easily. (You can also see how thin it is at the sides from the photos, with the model's underpants showing through – not that you'd be wearing any in use…)
The fit is close in the body to stop any bunching, especially around the torso and straps as they go over your shoulders. The legs fit well too, remaining in place thanks to silicone grippers, and don't feel restrictive if you've got large thighs.
The chamois is Altura's ProGel pad which is on the thick side, which I find makes it suited to longer rides where you might be sat a little more upright, like a sportive or something. That's not to say that you can't use these for faster, shorter rides, but when really crouched over I felt that there was just a little too much material there.
The chamois has various channels and layers of padding to support your sit bones and avoid numbness by allowing blood flow. Even though it is quite thick it is very supportive, so you sit on the pad rather than just squashing it flat, and it stays put too. I never suffered with any bunching or hot spots at all.
Quality-wise, things are pretty good, especially when you consider the price. There are a few rough thread ends around the seams and some of the stitching isn't the neatest, but that is all hidden away inside so they look good from the outside.
At £59.99 they are up against the likes of the dhb Aerons and I would say BTwin's Aerofits, but they're not currently available on Decathlon's website; they're tough acts to follow to be fair, and the Alturas fall just a little short. Howie's £59.99 offerings are well worth a look too, for the same money.
They are very good shorts in their own right, though, and are far from overpriced.
Great bib shorts for the money, offering good performance and fit, but make sure you don't catch them on anything
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Sportive 97 Progel Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Altura says: "Celebrating 20 years of performance cycling, Altura deliver one of their most popular bibshort with our celebratory 97 graphic and Altura ProGel pad delivering comfort in the saddle, keeping you riding for longer."
The Alturas are a sensibly priced pair of bib shorts that covers all manner of riding styles.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Altura Dry™ technology is engineered to move excess moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable
* Altura ProGel™ 3D mold construction pad. Featuring ProGel™ and Altura Dry™ technology
* Body mapping mesh zones for enhanced breathability
* Silicon grip hem for enhanced fit
* Strategically located retroreflective trims for increased visibility in low light conditions
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The instructions just call for a 30 degree wash and nothing else.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really comfortable shorts for long hours in the saddle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The close fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The material catches quite easily.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Sportive 97s are brilliantly priced bib shorts considering the fit and comfort on offer. The only issue is the seemingly fragile fabric.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.