Spring Clothing Round-Up: Assos – by Grannygear
Assos is one of those brands I would see reviewed and discussed on the internet and done so in whispered, almost reverent tones. The bib shorts were loved and admired for the comfort and fit and the high cost was simply the price of admission. On the clothing wrapper is the slogan, “Sponsor Yourself”. Very smart branding, that. Sponsored riders often get the very best. Dura Ace Di2. High modulus carbon. Titanium and unobtanium. So why not get yourself the level of clothing that the pro’s use?
So, when the offer was made to sample some Assos clothing, I have to admit I was quite interested in seeing what a $240.00 bib short was like. And this is not the average roadie-type bib. Oh no. It has some unique features that stand out, both for good and a bit less than good. Let’s see what we have.
We first introduced the Assos samples here in our opening post. I have been in the XC MTB bibs and matching jersey and now have enough hours and miles to get a pretty good idea what is what.
XC Short Sleeve Jersey: It’s not hot. From the Assos website:
We understand that the demands of riding off-road are very different to riding on the road. Those slow, grinding climbs on hot days mean that you need a jersey that is more breathable yet gives you ample protection when you hit the trails. This is where our reworked XC short-sleeve jersey comes into play.
Crafted using our proven lightweight Stripe fabric, breathability is a given to ensure you’ll keep cool on the steepest ramps. Under the arms we’ve positioned our ultra breathable 3-mesh fabric, plus added our lauded triple ramp pockets in a sartorially on-point torpedoGrey for the ultimate security while riding over rough terrain. Finally, to ensure it was fit for purpose, this tech-savvy XC jersey has been stringently tested by the most demanding and experienced racers on the BMC MTB Racing team, which confirms that it is more than ready for your next blast on your local trails.
The sleeves are longish and the overall cut is slim. You would think this was Italian, not Swiss, as I had to go to an XL jersey to get it to where it was not a ‘shrunk to fit’ feeling on my frame (6’2” 190lbs). After that part, honestly I have nothing but good things to say about it. The pockets are functional, the material does well in hot weather (although the dark green color is a bit hot feeling in direct sun), breathes very well and does not bind or pull or itch or anything negative. It feels very nice against the skin and I used it with a base or not depending on the day.
It took a while to get into warmer weather here in SoCal as it has been an honest to goodness spring. But the last ride I did in the kit was a 2 hour MTB ride with a 90 minute climb up a grinding single track at elevation. It’s a sweaty ride and the Assos XC Short Sleeve jersey was simply transparent…meaning it did everything it was supposed to do.
At $169.00 it is hardly a bargain garment, but it is high quality and high function.
Assos XC Bibshorts: Tougher than the average bib. First, here are some words from the Assos website:
Mountain bikers need clothing solutions too, so we set about extending our premium, mountain bike-specific OFFROAD collection. Our apparel engineering team were tasked with the challenge of creating a breathable yet durable short that has signature ASSOS performance yet doesn’t break the bank. The result of their hard work is these XC-specific bib shorts, for which we just can’t find enough superlatives.
Employing the ripstop, high abrasion resistant and breathable dyneRope fabric (which is stronger than steel), these shorts have been put through their paces by the BMC MTB Racing Team’s best riders. And with such stringent world class testers giving their approval, it’s clear that the pedigree of these shorts has already been confirmed. The result is a tough, lightweight and highly breathable pair of shorts that are perfect for the toughest XC trails. According to the team, the dyneRope on the outside of the legs wicks sweat like no other, delivering a seriously world-class performance that saw the riders sweep the team standings at the 2017 UCI MTB World Cup series.
But no matter how hard you’re pushing while riding off-road, there’s always a need for superior ASSOS comfort in the saddle so we’ve opted for our opulent MTB-specific insert. Placed a little further forward than its road counterpart, it is tuned for the steepest climbs and sickest flow trails with memory foam. From the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup to your home trails, it’s time to hit the dirt.
These are quite an interesting set of bibs. On the one hand they were simply great to use and on the other hand they were slightly annoying to use.
First the good:
- The ripstop fabric is very tough feeling, like you made a lycra short out of a set of baggies. Although I never crashed in them, I bet they would come out of that better that I would. They also would be very tear and snag resistant in brushy trails.
- They are very compressive in the fit and I went up to LG, not the Med that the Assos sizing chart suggested for my 32” waist. The fit is very snug especially on the legs. You feel very supported but not constrained.
- The cut is simply stunning. I never felt anything pull or bind.
- The wide shoulder straps are just right in tension and comfort, but are substantial and stay flat and in place.
- The chamois is actually a bit minimal looking compared to other high end shorts I have used, most notably the Castelli Free Aero Race 4s. But the sit bone support is just right, giving you long term comfort and cushion. The center section between the sit bones is nearly cut away and thinned quite a bit. I like that. I don’t need padding where there is no saddle contact (assuming I am using a cut out saddle). Oddly enough the chamois was also the source of annoyance. As to that…
The less than good:
- That chamois. It vexed me, leaving me puzzled and conflicted. It would coddle me and I would forgive it until the next vexation. So. The chamois is not stitched down in the center. In every other short I have used, the chamois is sewn onto the short all the way around. Where the short goes, the chamois follows. But the ‘floating’ ability of the Assos chamois allows the pad to move with you which I think I get…why not have it follow your body instead of following the short? Seems valid and maybe it is. But it follows me a bit too closely at times. You notice this when you first put them on and walk. It’s a padded ‘wedgie’. That chamois is free to intrude a bit, not being sewn down. Odd, but hey, these are not walking shorts, right? Sit on a saddle and the tension in the short pulls the chamois into place and all is good. Then you stand to pedal. Wedgie-ness reappears, and although it is hardly a burden, it does feel odd.
- The short is cut very low in front, maybe an inch or more than anything else I have worn. That is fine when seated but when walking around, you better not have much spare tire there ‘cuz it will be front and center. It’s like Plumber’s Crack, only in reverse. It does make nature breaks a snap though.
- The grey fabric in the short does…how shall we say it…’highlight’ the male contour. You have to be OK with that. Depending who you are, that might move this up to the ‘GOOD’ category. Think Chippendale.
So is it all worth the cash? That is up to the buyer but the quality is there. The function is there even if I am not 100% in on that chamois deal. The tough fabric is unique and might have some real appeal to the right buyer, more likely an MTB rider/racer, but adventure/gravel too.
But would I buy them? I am not sure. Sadly, that intrusive chamois makes me think twice and for 240 clams I do not want anything annoying me. Anything. I want perfection. Picky maybe, but there it is.
So in that sense the bibs fall a bit short. But 97% of the time, like when I am seated and pedaling in them, they are simply great to be in. Now here is an interesting thing. The last ride I did in them before I wrote the final thoughts here was an MTB ride. Lots of single track in the mountains, quite a bit of climbing. And they were actually better there than on the typical gravel bike ride. I never once noticed the chamois annoyance. Not sure what to make of that. Of course they were created for XC MTB riding, so….
Perhaps it is because when I am standing on a mountain bike, it is typically on some single track section and my attention is focused on the matter at hand. I likely would not even notice a nosey chamois.
If I were to ‘tweak’ them I would add an inch to the front panel height and get out the Singer machine, putting down some tuck and roll on that chamois and reevaluate. But that is just me. I have to assume the chamois feature is a popular, proven thing, and no review I have read even mentions it in a negative way.
So…tough fabric, slim but excellent cut, breathes well, looks great unless you are bulgy-bear body type or are allergic to the grey fabric induced Chippendale feature.
Sponsor yourself. Not a bad idea.
Note- Riding Gravel was sent the clothing used in the Spring Clothing Round-Up by Castelli, Assos, and Reggie for no charge to test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.