Assos has gained a loyal following with certain road cyclists by producing comfortable, high-quality cycling kits that last for years, even decades. It has created industry-leading products (with industry-leading price tags) since introducing what it claims to be the world’s first Lycra cycling shorts in 1976. Assos is now taking its clothing expertise off-road. The Swiss clothing partnered with the Absa Cape Epic, using the grueling eight day, 700km (435mi) race as the proving ground for its new mountain bike line, which will initially consists of two jerseys and a bib short.
Assos bills this as a “trekking” jersey, meaning the fit is ever-so-slightly relaxed. The construction is quite intricate, consisting of six different fabrics and 25 patterns. (For reference, that a level of complexity on par with many winter cycling jackets.) Thicker material is used on the shoulders to guard against wear from the straps of hydration packs. The rear of the jersey is primarily constricted from a highly breathable mesh fabric for improved ventilation when wearing a pack.
Assos will sell the jersey with a matching baselayer. Price for the bundle is US$399 (UK and AUS pricing TBA.)
This is the pared down mountain bike top (at least by Assos standards) in the new line. The SS.Cape_EpicXCJersey_Evo7 is constructed from three different textiles and 16 patterns and features graphics inspired by the Cape Epic.
We shudder to call it “more affordable” but it certainly does cost less, with a suggested retail price of US$219. (UK and AUS pricing TBA.)
Last but certainly not least is Assos mountain bike bib shorts. So what makes a pair of bibs mountain bike-specific?
According to Assos, the combination of the fabrics used, along with their woven construction, do a better job of conforming to contours of the quadriceps through the more dynamic movements of mountain biking. The materials are also thicker and more abrasion resistant than one would find in other Assos shorts, such as the flagship S7. Assos claims a medium T.Rally Short weighs 227g, approximately 50g more than a comparable S7 model.
Assos makes five variations of S7 bibs with differing chamois and three different fits: race, regular and comfort. The T.Rally, however, only comes with a premium, MTB-specific chamois based on the S7 platform witha regular fit, suitable for general riding and racing.
The T.Rally’s chamois is positioned more rearward, to compensate for the more upright positioning of mountain biking. The chamois uses what Assos calls “Golden Gate” technology, which refers to an unstitched central portion of the chamois. The objective is to reduce friction between the rider and the chamois by allowing the chamois to follow the movement of the rider’s body, thereby reducing irritation.
In addition to differences in material and chamois positioning, Assos has also included a rear storage pocket, suitable for bars and energy gels; shoulder straps that cross in the back, for improved support; and hip pads, for impact protection. The hip pads are constructed from a polyurethane foam, similar to the materials used in many of the soft elbow and kneepads on the market.
The oval-shaped pads slide into pockets in the interior of the short and can be easily removed for washing
The T.RallyShorts_s7 comes with an astronomically steep price tag of US$449. (UK and AUS pricing TBA.)
As a company, Assos is quite unapologetic about its pricing. It spends years developing new products, sometimes going through as many as 80 iterations before settling on a final design. (The development of the hip pads took more than a year.) The price of the company’s products reflects this massive investment in research and design.
Is it worth it? Will it sell? That’s yet to be seen. Assos expects all three pieces to be available by February 2015.