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The Albion Cycling ABR1 Pocket Bib Shorts are gravel-specific, designed for long days in the saddle, and work really well on or off the road. They feature side pockets and a clever rear stash pocket, an incredibly comfortable and non-intrusive Elastic Interface pad, and they fit me perfectly. They're definitely on the more premium side in terms of pricing, but are worth it.
The ABR1 Pocket bibs are a mild tweak of Albion's existing ABR1 Bib Shorts (we have a full review of those to come). The only real difference between the two, at least on paper, is the addition of mesh pockets on the legs, and one very large mesh stash pocket on the rear.
I own a pair of the non-pocket ABR1s and, not wishing to jump the gun on the review to come, think they're excellent bib shorts for endurance style riding thanks to their long-distance seat pad, which also features in the ABR1 Pocket bibs.
It's labelled as the Albion X Elastic Interface Ultra but, as far as this bicycle nerd can tell, is an Elastic Interface Liege HP Men, which is designed for rides over seven hours.
It's very comfortable, but unlike some pads it's quite a low-profile design, so it doesn't overwhelm you like some thicker ones do. The seat pad in the Rapha Core Cargo bib shorts (another pair of gravel shorts I own) is much thicker and can actually get uncomfortable after a while as it tends to squish everything into your groin.
Proof is in the pudding: I rode a 65-mile gravel event in Wiltshire a couple of months ago, which was pretty unforgiving in places, and I must say I didn't once think about my backside during the entire five-hour duration.
The shorts themselves are made from four-way-stretch recycled fabrics, with flatlock seams to prevent any kind of chafing while you ride, and a mesh panel at the rear, ideal for keeping your back cooler on hotter days.
The only slight gripe I have is that the reflectivity is pretty minimal. But then with summer shorts you're unlikely to be wearing them in the dark.
In terms of fit, Albion Cycling has it pretty much nailed. The large on test are a perfect match for my long and slim physique: snug all round, but not race tight (my non-Pocket versions are actually XL, based on the fit from other Albion garments I've tested, but are ever so slightly long and not quite tight enough around the tip of the quads).
As for the pockets adorning these bib shorts, as I've already mentioned you get two at the sides, each one generous enough to fit a smartphone and some snacks in. The pockets are tight against the hips, but entry and exit is easy enough when you're grabbing for something in a rush.
The large rear pocket is a clever solution to stashing an item of clothing when you're on the move, such as a gilet or lightweight jacket. Because the pocket is a side entry, and a decent diameter, it's easy to cram clothing in without having to stop or look at what you're doing. And, because there's an entry/exit hole on either side of the pocket, it's good for lefties or righties.
The shorts come in black or Botanical Green, which is quite a vibrant option if you're feeling a little daring – paired with Albion's Fluro Green jersey, it's quite the look (in a good way).
At £145, the Albions sit in the middle of a wide range of prices you can pay for good bib shorts, from below £100 to over £200.
Rapha's Core Cargo bib shorts are, in my opinion, one of the closest competitors to the Albions in terms of overall comfort and quality, but £45 cheaper. The ABR1s edge it in pad performance, and I'd say they're just a bit nicer overall – plus the stash pocket is more useful than the Core Cargos' two regular mesh rear pockets. If you can stretch to it, they're worth the extra in my book.
But there are some decent options under £100: Madison's Roam Men's Cargo Bib Shorts were well received by Stu, with usable pockets and a good pad thickness for off-road rides, and they're £79.99. And Altura's All Roads Cargo Bib Shorts are virtually the same price, with good comfort and storage, but George found that the fitment was slightly off.
Looking at the other extreme, the Albions are almost a bargain in comparison: Rapha's non-Core Cargo Bib Shorts are £215 – though you do get some weatherproofing with those – the Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 bib shorts, reviewed on our sister site off.road.cc, are £210, and the Spatzwear Convoy Cargo bib shorts are £199.99 – and not without niggles according to Liam's review.
They're not as cheap as some but you do get some excellent gravel-specific bib shorts for your money, which excel in every way imaginable, with high levels of comfort thanks to a fantastic seat pad, a perfect fit, and great pockets – including a clever stash rear pocket, genuinely a game-changer in my opinion.
Near-flawless gravel-specific bib shorts – comfortable, great fitting, and with a clever rear pocket
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Albion ABR1 Pocket Bib Shorts
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Albion says, "High performance bib shorts with load carrying capacity, including a rear pocket to carry an extra layer and side pockets for your essentials. Designed for maximum comfort to help you stay outside for longer."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Albion lists these features:
Three pockets: mesh pockets on each leg and a rear mesh pocket allow for load carrying and easy access whilst riding
Albion x Elastic Interface ultra pad technology for long distance riding (with recycled face fabric)
Reduced panel, anatomical design using 4-way stretch performance recycled fabrics
Mesh upper back panel to aid breathability
Wide exterior silicone leg gripper
Reflective tabs at side / rear
Fabric and Manufacturing:
Main fabric: 80% recycled nylon, 20% polyester; mesh 73% recycled nylon, 27% recycled elastane
Made in Italy
As well as being very well made, in a factory in Italy, the majority of the fabric is recycled (Bluesign approved sustainable).
Side pockets are excellent, and the rear stash pocket is a stroke of genius.
No issues here (or with my other ABR1 bib shorts).
Snug, but not race-fit, and great leg length.
Large is what I normally wear, and these are true to size, unlike some of Albion's other garments, which tend to be on the small side.
Pretty decent – lighter than the Rapha Core Cargo bib shorts.
Great for long rides on or off road, and the pad isn't intrusive.
You can buy good gravel bib shorts for £80-£100, but you can also spend around the £200 mark (or more). So though these are pricey compared with some, they're not anywhere near as expensive as others. I reckon they're well worth the money, and not overpriced.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
30 degrees, easy to wash – nothing to write home about.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Perfect for gravel rides, and make for useful bib shorts on long road rides too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The rear stash pocket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're £15 less than Santini's Gravel bib shorts (and better in the pad department), but £45 more than the Rapha Cargo Core Bib Shorts – while the non-Core Rapha Cargos are £215 (but do have some weatherproofing). There are cheaper alternatives – Madison's Roam Men's Cargo Bib Shorts and the Altura All Roads Cargo Bib Shorts are both around the £80 mark, and offer decent performance.
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 overall score
Albion's gravel-specific shorts offer a highly competitive performance for a price that, while more than some, is far less than other similar products. They do everything terrifically well, aside from that minor of not a huge amount of reflectivity (which I don't think is that big of a deal for summer shorts). Highly recommended.
About the tester
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,