Here we go, what is Alt_Road? Don’t worry this isn’t another new riding category, instead, MAAP uses its Alt_Road moniker as an all-encompassing range of riding clothing that covers everything from bikepacking adventures to road riding. MAAP’s Alt_Road Cargo Bib Shorts are your typical gravel shorts, blending comfort, and performance, and loaded with useful extra cargo capacity.
They feature some really great features too and it's obvious that a lot of attention to detail has gone into the Alt_Road shorts. This makes them serious contenders to be some of the best gravel bike shorts on the market but all this comes at a premium. Costing twice as much as some other cargo bib shorts are MAAP’s Alt_Road shorts worth the hefty price tag?
Design and specifications
MAAP uses a four-way stretch compression fabric for the Alt_Road shorts and features flat-locked seams across most of the shorts. Thick hems on the short legs feature a silicone texture and MAAP logo and keep the legs in place comfortably. The back section uses more of the four-way stretch compression fabric to mount the two rear pockets before switching to a light mesh material for better ventilation. The two-way stretch shoulder straps are wide and sit nicely over the shoulder without any bunching.
MAAP’s proprietary 3D Thermo molded chamois has been developed with chamois experts Elastic Interface. It has a three-layer multi-density pad with laser-cut perforations in the front section for breathability and an antimicrobial microfibre top liner to help keep them fresher.
I'm a big fan of MAAP’s aesthetic but even I was a little unsure about the ‘Coffee’ colored bib shorts I received for testing. The color grew on me though and I'm now actually quite fond of the brown look, word of warning though brown really shows up any wet patches so be careful with leaky bidons, or else your riding friends will think you have had an accident. If the earthy tones don’t do it for you though, MAAP also offers the bib shorts in Olive or Black.
Styling is pretty minimal, with a single MAAP logo on the left leg, but the devil is in the detail and there are lots of neat design considerations that add a really nice finish to the shorts. Pink hem-work and blue bib strap section, and Alt_Road branding features on the rear pockets and shoulder strap add a little style, although only you will see it as it will be hidden under your jersey. I'm not sure why brands print product specs on garments though as I have never needed to check if shorts have ‘breathable fabrics’ or ‘four-way stretch’ mid-ride but other brands are guilty of this, not just MAAP.
The shorts share a similar fit to MAAPs training shorts and have a nice balance of compression and comfort. My size medium shorts fitted as expected and while the legs were a little longer than you might see from other brands, they were well positioned on my legs and we preferred the extra length.
The flat-lock stitching sits nicely against the skin although we have noticed some fraying under the chamois and on the inside of the thighs from pedaling. We have put quite a lot of miles on these shorts and any fraying hasn’t affected the integrity of the seams - we will of course update the review if this changes.
The shorts manage temperature well and the material has a decent thickness to it. Despite some unprecedentedly hot weather this summer, the Alt_Road shorts were still comfortable and on evening rides where temperatures can fluctuate a lot, I didn't feel overly chilly if the temperature dropped significantly.
I didn’t really find much use for the zipped valuables pocket as I rarely carry cash on a ride and keys are a bit lumpy for leg pockets. I also didn’t carry my phone in it either as I like the quick draw access for those fleeting Instagram moments that only a leg mesh pocket can offer. I suspect some riders will really like the zipped pocket, and it’s a feature unique to MAAP, but most would be better served by having a second mesh pocket for more easy-snacking options or carrying other useful close-to-hand items. The left-hand mesh pocket offers lots of storage, with plenty of stretch in the mesh it holds items securely – we just wish there was one on the right-hand leg too.
Rear pockets are easy to access thanks to the low positioning and angled opening. They sit quite close to the back as well so if you store tools in there they don’t jump around too much when riding on rough terrain. They aren’t quite deep enough to take on everything you would fit in your jersey pockets, so if you are looking to go for a t-shirt on top you will probably need to find some additional storage on the bike.
Very comfortable and versatile bib shorts that deliver performance whether your multi-day bikepacking or heading out for a quick power hour. The fit is excellent and I found the level of compression to be spot on. Detailing is nice as well and overall they feel very premium resulting in the Alt_Road shorts being some of my favorites for all types of drop bar riding. We are big fans of MAAP’s bold styling and while the bib shorts aren’t particularly ‘out there’ as some of the brand's other kit – although the brown will likely split some opinions – we still appreciate all the fine details that have been added.
My biggest gripe is that I would rather have a second mesh leg pocket rather than the zipped pocket and while the rear pockets are well positioned and easy to access, they could maybe be a touch deeper. That said they are still very usable and the pocket layout of the shorts offers a good amount of extra cargo capacity.
Being MAAP these shorts aren’t cheap and the $335 / £235 price tag is sizable, especially now that there are many brands that offer cargo bib shorts for significantly less. MAAP of course aren’t the only ones charging premium prices, Rapha’s Explore cargo bibs, Velocio’s Utility bib, and 7Mesh’s MK3 Cargo are all in a similar $300 / £200 plus ballpark (apart from 7Mesh, which are only $230 in the US). MAAP does offer a 40 percent crash replacement should you bin it although we feel that repair programs offered by the likes of Rapha and Velocio are a better service than having to spend £141 on a new set of shorts.
The durability has to be brought into question as well. It's a little concerning to see some fraying around the seams after roughly 500km of riding, especially as the wet and gritty seasons which can turn your saddle into sandpaper are yet to start. It seems to be mostly aesthetic at this point but we will update this review if anything changes.
Tech Specs: MAAP Alt_Road Cargo bib shorts
- Price: $335 / £235
- Materials: 72% Polyamide, 28% Elastane
- Colors: Black, Olive, Coffee
- Size availability: XS to XXL