Decent fit and shape, although they lack compression and the basic pad affects comfort on longer rides.
- - Good leg length
- - Comfortable bib straps
- - Decent chamois
- - Reflective details
- - Not enough compression in short material affects fit
- - Pad best suited to shorter distances
Altura is a UK brand that's been making affordable gear for cyclists of all ilks, whether it's the dedicated all-weather commuter to road or bike adventurer. Altura’s range of bib shorts start at a very affordable price of £45 and tops out at £90 for its best cycling short. The Icon sits second best, retailing for £70 and features an Elastic Interface chamois and multi-material construction.
Design and aesthetics
The Icon chamois has been developed exclusively for Altura by Elastic Interface and is a dual-density construction. The pad itself is constructed from Eco X-Tract fabric, which Altura claims will help draw moisture away from the skin and the simple shaping features a central channel to reduce pressure.
Interestingly Altura has taken into consideration the bodyweight of a rider with different foam densities across the sizes. The result is a denser foam being used in larger sizes in an attempt to maintain the ideal comfort to bodyweight ratio.
The construction of the shorts uses quite a lot of panelling to create its shape, and these panels consist of a lightweight and very stretchy fabric with an Italian Miti carbon fabric on the rear of the shorts, which is claimed to reduce bacteria and maintain freshness. The hems of the legs have a raw finish and feature a dotted gripper design to hold them in place.
Altura is well established in the commuter market, so the details and branding on the shorts are reflective. It’s not too 'in your face' either; a dashed line design is featured on the legs and branding is kept to a minimum, with just the Altura name on the rear and a logo on the left leg.
Cycling gear has a reputation for being on the small side, although Altura definitely does not subscribe to the Italian fit so it is worth taking that into consideration when choosing your size. The multi-panel shape of the shorts feels pretty spot on, although the light material sort of dilutes this, as it doesn't quite hug the body as well as a more supportive short would. The leg length is good and stays in place, while the straps sit comfortably over the shoulders with no bunching or discomfort.
The shorts' material is pretty light as well, with a lot of stretch, but not much in the way of compression or support. Obviously, not all riders are so concerned about the benefits of muscle compression, but the lower levels of stretch across the entire shorts can leave you feeling a little unsupported around the chamois, lower back and the front of the shorts. While this isn’t too much of an issue when riding very casually, on longer or medium intensity training rides they do begin to show some weaknesses as the chamois feels like it floats around a little and can need readjusting.
The lightness of the material does mean the bibs are quite breathable in hot weather and, where there is decent tension of material against the skin, the shorts manage moisture adequately. On loose sections and around the chamois though, the shorts aren’t quite as good at expelling dampness.
The basic Elastic Interface pad is fine, and although it isn't particularly breathable, it has a decent shape and provides some added comfort. It's not very thick though, so there isn't much vibration damping, which will affect comfort over longer rides.
Again, compression isn’t everyone’s most important feature in a bib short, and all bodies are different shapes and sizes, but every time I wore the Icon shorts I felt they could have really benefited from a thicker material and being a bit more supportive. Even on short rides, I found that I would require some readjustment after periods of harder pedalling or after reseating, to make sure everything was where it should be.
If you are looking for a cheap pair of shorts for gentle riding and commuting duties, then the Altura Icons are fine. They have a decent shape, with a good leg length and comfortably positioned straps. However, if you are wanting a pair of shorts that are going to offer comfort on longer rides, we would recommend investing a little extra money on a more compressive and supportive short with a more advanced pad.
Tech Specs: Altura Icon bib shorts
- Price: £70 / $TBC / €68,61
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL and 2XL
- Weight: 172g (M), actual
- Colours: Black
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