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For the money the Altura Icon Men's Cycling Bib Shorts are decent performers thanks to a comfortable chamois – provided you don't want anything too padded – and a breathable, fast-wicking material.
Seventy quid is a busy price point for cycling shorts, and I wouldn't say the Icons are offering anything ground-breaking for the money over their competitors, but what they do deliver is a solid build with plenty of comfort.
The Icon pad is made exclusively for Altura by Elastic Interface, one of the biggest brands when it comes to cycling pads. One neat thing is that Altura specs thicker pads on the larger sizes of its shorts to compensate for a bigger rider's weight, though it's still quite a thin pad, with not a huge amount of padding.
That generally suits me – I'm not a fan of having loads of padding as it can bunch up and cause overheating. Here, I found the pad comfortable for around two-and-a-half to three hours of riding, but any longer and I would have appreciated just a little bit more padding.
The material used in the shorts feels good against the skin. There is nothing flash going on like compression or anything, but there is plenty of stretch in the fabric which is supportive as you ride.
The shorts are breathable, too, and for added effectiveness the rear panels are made of a carbon fabric which is said to reduce bacteria.
Though the shoulder straps are wide, they can spin and twist as you put them on so it's worth spending a few seconds making sure they lie flat before you head out for a ride.
Large grippers keep the legs in place and it's good to see reflective detailing on both legs rather than just the one.
Like most, Altura has a size guide on its website and it's well matched to the shorts, and to UK sizing in general. If you are a medium in most brands, then you'll be a medium in these.
The overall quality is impressive. The shorts are well made throughout and durable, too, holding up against general wear and tear and their interaction with the saddle.
As I mentioned, £70 puts the Icons in a busy part of the market, and though they hold their own against other quality shorts, there is some tough opposition from the likes of Orro with its £69.99 Pyro Line bib shorts, which scored well (and are currently £49.99), and the Galibier Equipe 2 Aeros which, though a couple of quid more, have a better pad in my opinion.
Overall, the Icons are good all-round performers for all types of riding, although you might find the pad too thin for epic rides.
Quite a thin pad, but comfortable nonetheless
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Icon Men's Cycling Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says, "Fit and comfort across all areas is everything when it comes to a pair of bib shorts you trust and want to wear every ride. It is for this reason that we designed the Altura Icon Men's Cycling Bib Shorts. Working closely with Elastic Interface we have developed this exclusive pad design which focusses on comfort to body weight ratio with denser foam used in the pads for our larger sizes to ensure a comfortable ride for every rider. For added comfort we have used clever, Italian Miti carbon fabric placed in key areas to draw toxins away from the skin for a fresh feel. This accomplished all-rounder is completed by soft touch bib straps which help to prevent chafing, a high wicking mesh back to help maintain freshness and reflective detailing to keep you seen by others making this a feature-packed, iconic design."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Exclusive Elastic Interface™ Icon Pad
- High wicking stretch fabric
- Italian carbon fabric back panel to reduce bacteria and sustain freshness
- Soft elasticated bibstraps
- Highly wicking mesh back panel
- Reflective print detail
Sizing is spot on with Altura's guide.
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
They're comfortable bib shorts for a range of riding disciplines.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The material stretches well and gives a good fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pad didn't suit me for rides longer than three hours.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are similarly priced to the Galibier and Orro shorts mentioned in the review, though they have the edge on 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
Solid performers and well made for the money, from a good choice of materials.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!