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Altura's Firestorm bib shorts have a pad that works very well, sizing that's spot on and fabric that wicks away sweat very efficiently, making them a really good budget-conscious choice. The fabric may be a bit too stretchy in critical areas, though, plus it can bobble fairly easily against the seat.
The main fabric on these shorts is an 82% nylon/18% spandex mix in the usual six-panel pattern. The straps are mesh both on the front and the back, with a section of solid elastic on the shoulders and chest. I found these straps comfortable, and less sweaty than shorts without mesh.
The shorts use Altura's Stealth pad, which uses open cell foam under the polyester top fabric. The foam is thicker at the contact points and reduced in other areas for padding without bulk; there's a whole section on Altura's website about the '3D' shaping, but I'll summarise it for you: it's very comfortable and about as breathable a pad as I've come across for this level of support.
The legs are kept in place with a roughly 4cm-wide rubberised hem around the front, and around three-fifths of it gets silicone gripper (it's not grippy around the back). It works well without restricting leg movement, giving good security against them riding up without becoming too tight.
I'm 178cm (5ft 8in) and weigh 77kg; medium bib shorts fit me well in non-Italian brands such as Endura or dhb, and the Firestorms in medium are bang on the money.
I get on less well with the fit. The Firestorms are supportive at the hem and around the outside of the thighs, but the front two panels are very easily stretched. Around the crotch, the shorts feel too loose and stretchy, like it's a slightly different or thinner material – perhaps to increase breathability. I would prefer things a bit more snug.
Having said that, these shorts perform well, including on longer rides. I had no complaints from the nether regions on 4-5 hour rides in pretty hot weather.
I've had no issues with washing, though there is a bit of bobbling on the fabric under one side of the pad. I don't know why this only shows on one side; it doesn't look like it will affect durability or performance, though.
At £69.99 they're a fiver cheaper than dhb's comparable Aeron shorts, which are a good benchmark for top quality affordable shorts.
There's a lot to like about the Altura Firestorm bib shorts; the pad is really comfortable, they're well put together and they deal with sweat better than most. The only downside is the unsupportive front panels, though you may well be happy to live with that as it doesn't affect performance or comfort while riding.
Great on long rides in hot weather, but the fabric could be more supportive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Firestorm bib short
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says: "When the thermostat pops, these Firestorm bib shorts will still be giving you comfortable all-day comfort. Instead of letting the sweat build up sweat inside, the special fabric wicks moisture away to keep you feeling fresh. While the upper body provides enhanced ventilation thanks to the minimal mesh lining.
The all-important pad is our specially-designed Stealth insert, providing shock absorption and avoiding friction with its close to skin flat surface comfort . The sleek and close-fitting cut is comfortable without feeling restrictive. Instead of tight elastic, special silicone grip printed inside the hem ensure the shorts stay in place.
The Firestorm bib shorts also offer enhanced visibility with a reflective hem gripper that reflects headlights in dark or low-light conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
High wicking fabric
Stealth chamois pad
Mesh upper body
Reflective hem gripper
Silicon grip hem print
No complaints on 4-5 hour rides.
There's a fair amount of bobbling after a dozen or so rides, so they may look worn sooner rather than later.
Overall fit is good, but the fabric is a little too stretchy for my liking and not quite as supportive as other shorts I've tried.
I'm a medium in other non-Italian brands, and this medium fitted me fine.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues with washing.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed perfectly well, even on longer rides. I'd like the fabric to have a more supportive feel though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not as supportive as I would like.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're a fiver cheaper than dhb's Aeron bib shorts, which we really like here at road.cc. Cheaper shorts are available, but they do not have the same spec pad or wicking ability.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, there's a lot to like for the money. They're comfortable on longer rides and keep the sweat wicked away. My only gripe is that the fit could be more supportive – they're good, and a solid 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Cannondale CAAD10
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,