Assos’ Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 bib shorts are part of the Swiss brand’s first gravel collection. The range belongs to the brand’s Mille line, which has comfort as its top consideration.
Designed with adventure riding and bikepacking in mind, Assos says the shorts have been designed to put up with the abuse of riding off-road, keeping you comfortable for extended periods.
The result? These cargo shorts seriously impress with their excellent fit, cargo pocket design and chamois pad comfort.
Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 bib shorts construction
The Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 bib shorts use Assos’ ‘regularFit’, which is said to have a slightly less aggressive cut than the brand’s race apparel, as well as a ‘standard’ mid-thigh leg length.
The cargo bib shorts feature four pockets for storing supplies – two on the thighs and two on the rear.
They are constructed of high-stretch, extremely breathable 3-Mesh panels, while the two rear pockets use green pull tabs aimed at providing fuss-free ease of access.
The mesh on the leg storage pockets folds in on itself at the top with the intention of keeping anything inside doubly secure.
Assos’ C2 pad has proven to be a winning formula in many of its endurance shorts, although it has tweaked the formula a little for the Kiespanzer.
The pad here is beefed up to a 19mm thickness, with the brand claiming the gravel-specific insert absorbs vibrations on rough and choppy terrain.
Mesh-like ‘Bunny Hop’ side panels are claimed to protect against abrasion should you take a spill, while maintaining breathability. The panels are also said to compress your leg muscles, thus reducing fatigue.
The shorts feature a silicone leg gripper and Assos’ X-frame bib straps to hold everything in place. Reflective stripes at the rear help ensure visibility.
The shorts are designed to be paired with a looser-fitting, pocketless jersey (such as the brand’s own Mille GTC Jersey C2) but can equally be worn with a conventional jersey, particularly if you’re after bucketloads of storage.
The shorts are available from sizes XS to TIR (equivalent of XL, but wider) and are currently only available for men. Assos has hinted a women’s version could be in development.
Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 bib shorts testing conditions
I tested the Kiespanzer shorts in a variety of conditions, from club runs and a 115-mile road ride through to gravel escapades in the south east and west of England.
The shorts were also put to the test over three days on the West Kernow Way bikepacking route, which saw a mixture of surfaces from fine Unbound-like gravel to muddy, technical singletrack.
Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 bib shorts performance
I’ve ridden in a variety of Assos’ endurance-focused bib shorts over the years, including the Mille GTS C2 and Cento Evo.
Unlike those shorts, which were supremely comfortable from the first ride, the Kiespanzers took a handful of rides to break in. However, by the time I subjected them to bikepacking duties, they were no longer box fresh and felt more suited to my shape.
I had no complaints using them over my three-day bikepacking route.
The thigh pockets are generally excellent – I kept my phone in one pocket and a handful of energy bars and gels in the other. I couldn’t feel the items when pedalling, thanks to the mesh construction.
The rear pockets also fared well and are satisfyingly deep. I used them to store extra food and an inner tube.
Pockets in this location are usually difficult to access, but Assos has attempted to make things easier by angling them slightly. They’re still not the easiest to get into on the move though, and the green pull tabs don’t do that much to help.
None of the pockets’ elasticity degraded over the test period, and they kept items as secure as they did on day one.
The bib straps, which are carried over from Assos’ other Mille shorts, are sound. They do a great job of keeping the shorts firmly in place and distribute tension across the shoulders really effectively.
The C2 is one of my favourite chamois pads and it didn’t disappoint here. It handles both road and off-road vibrations well, and doesn’t shift out of place.
It’s a little thicker than other Mille bib shorts, at 19mm, to deal with the heightened vibrations of riding off-road. I didn’t really notice a difference (I’ve ridden in the Mille GTS C2 shorts off-road many times) and I found the GTS and Kiespanzer pads to be as comfortable as each other.
That said, I don’t think either chamois is as comfortable as the one used in the (now discontinued) Cento Evo.
Given the Kiespanzer is designed to put up with the rigours of bikepacking and epic rides, I think utilising the Cento’s chamois would have been a match made in heaven – although chamois comfort is always subject to a level of personal preference.
The silicone grippers perform as intended and don’t leave any unwanted pressure marks.
Ventilation is also excellent and I was happy riding these shorts with knee warmers into high single-figure temperatures. On the subject of knee warmers, the shorts don’t ride up when wearing them.
Finally, there’s the price of £210 to flag up. Whilst not as expensive as some of Assos’ other top-spec shorts, there’s no denying it represents a significant outlay.
Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 bib shorts bottom line
The Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2s are an excellent first attempt at a gravel-specific bib short by the Swiss brand.
The shorts’ construction is impressive, chamois pad comfort is up there with what you’ll find in some of the best bib shorts and the overall design is well thought out.
The cargo shorts category is a prolific one, with many manufacturers keen to offer a suitable option.
While Assos has taken its time, the result is up there with the best, and these shorts will remain one of my first picks for longer rides where I need extra storage.