I can’t think of a pair of shorts that offers such comfort at this price point, with recycled materials to boot. Minor scruples over silicon cuffs and mesh back widths aside, these shorts are a brilliant addition to your wardrobe at a fraction of the cost of competitors.
Beautifully soft materials
Good value versus competitors
Silicon grippers prone to bagginess
Narrow back mesh
Back when I first tested Albion’s bib shorts, I couldn’t help but be impressed. It was the plucky upstart brand’s only item of clothing but I found the shorts to be a superbly comfortable, well thought out piece of kit.
Fast forward three years and Albion now produces a short sleeve jersey, a long sleeve jersey, a set of bib tights, a host of accessories and these, the Albion ARB1 bib short, an update to the original pair.
While they are still the only shorts in the brand’s lineup, their quality begs the question: why would you need more?
Sustainability is a hot topic in the cycling industry right now and Albion has been a flag bearer for a couple of years, with its shorts, jerseys and bib tights all proudly endorsed by the global recycled standard. True to this standard, Albion has made the ARB1 shorts from majority recycled fabric, with an aim to remove all virgin materials from its product line next year.
In this case the shorts body is made up of 80 percent recycled nylon to 20 percent polyester while the mesh is 73 percent recycled nylon to 27 percent recycled elastane. The common misconception is that ‘recycled’ is of a lower quality than ‘new’, but Albion’s fabric all come from the well-known Italian Miti mill.
Elsewhere, the short’s pad comes from Elastic Interface, a brand that furnishes several clothing companies with chamois pads. The pad is 12mm at its thickest where the sit bones are and tapers to 3mm thick on the front, with varying densities to match. Meanwhile, the short's simple panelling reduces the impact of the stitching to negligible while holding everything in place.
The body of the Albion ARB1 bib shorts are probably the softest that I’ve ever tested. The quality fabric sits softly against the skin in a way which is truly forgettable – exactly what you want from a pair of bib shorts.
The material and the paneling on the legs do feel less thick than on other shorts, which gives them a much lighter feel when worn but it’s definitely noticeable and is different to what I’ve experienced with Castelli, Rapha or Assos. The upshot is they're more breathable and the shorts are certainly cooler than other models.
The length in the leg of my size small is exactly how I like it, stopping just above the knee. Albion has swapped out the original thick silicon gripper for a much thinner and wider one, a design choice that fits with the subtle comfort of the shorts. Fortunately, it hasn’t altered the fit and they shorts have remained comfortably in place across short blasts and long rides alike although the thinner cuff can stretch and become a little baggy.
The mesh back is narrower than that on competitor’s shorts and the bib straps are tight and sit wider on the chest compared to the likes of Rapha.
The Rapha Classic bib shorts are probably the closest comparison that I can think of using partially recycled materials and at £125 the Albion ARB1 bib shorts are £45 cheaper. Of course, that’s still a lot of money for a pair of shorts but the technical properties, the all day comfort and luxurious skin feel make it feel like a bargain.
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