This year, when the weather started to get wetter and colder, I wondered if there might be something else that would work better for me. If there was any possibility of higher performance gear, I felt like Assos would be a strong contender. This winter I took a look at two pieces of gear, the thermobootie.uno_s7, and the rs.sturmprinz evo from the legendary clothing manufacturer.
Last winter, I wrote an article I called “Fall to Spring, Head to Toe, The Clothing You Need To Stay Comfortable”, and I ran through the whole gamut of clothing for the colder months. Overall, I’ve been very happy with those recommendations. I’m someone that loves to tinker though, and I’m constantly reassessing.
Before I take a look at any piece of gear, I tend to do a lot of research about it. I like to discuss great products rather than slam gear that isn’t very good. When I started researching the rs.sturmprinz evo, I found some discussion about it being used on the Transcontinental, and that’s when I really started to get excited about it.
Assos is halo gear, and the Transcontinental is for cycling gods among men. I’m hardly immune to being excited about discussing a piece of gear with this kind of pedigree, and when it arrived, it did not disappoint.
The packaging presents the jacket like it’s a jewel, and just opening the box feels exciting. The fit is equally superb. There is a high collar and a long, low, form fitting tail with an aggressive cut to the arms for an aero position on the bike. The shoulders retain lots of articulation, and it’s a really fantastic feel all around. The lower hem has an excellent silicone gripper, and the zipper is very high quality.
The first time I rode with it was somewhat puzzling, though. I went out in a light, on and off drizzle and rode really hard. Although it felt fantastic in terms of fit and finish, I found myself somewhat wet underneath. I wasn’t drenched, but I had more sweat buildup than I would have in something like the Rapha soft-shell jacket.
What was puzzling about it, though, was not so much that there was sweat buildup, but rather, was that a problem? I noted that although my arms were wet when I got home, a bit similar to riding indoors on the trainer, I was never cold and was actually quite comfortable. All this despite chilly fall weather and only a short sleeve jersey and a summer base-layer under the jacket.
I went out again and really spent time taking stock of how I felt in it. Again, I found that I was wetter than I would have liked. However I was warm and comfortable even though I was dressed in clothes I would normally consider too light for the conditions. Overall, if you are headed out in very light rain, or potential rain, and you plan to ride hard, this is a hard shell jacket. Hard-shell jackets, no matter how advanced, are not going to breath as well as a soft-shell.
The rs.sturmprinz evo is not magic, and despite the advanced fabric and many vents, will not keep up with venting under those conditions. But what I continually found was that despite it leaving me somewhat damp underneath, I was staying warm and comfortable. At this point, my review would still have been somewhat mixed. This is an expensive jacket that could be called less than ideal, but I remember the moment this assessment changed.
Thanksgiving is a US holiday that is centred around one of the biggest meals of the year. As a cyclist, I eat carefully and count my calories, so the idea of sitting down to a huge meal is not necessarily something I look forward to. I decided the best way to handle it would be to go for a ride in the morning and burn some calories. For better or for worse, it was one of the worst rain storms of the year in a city known for rain. If you don’t ride in the heat, and you don’t ride in the cold, when do you ride? I apply this same line of reasoning to most weather, and I don’t pay much attention to the breathless warnings of local newscasters, so I headed out. In retrospect, this was a mistake. The weather really was pretty serious, but it did provide me the opportunity to fully test the Assos gear.
In terms of the rs.sturmprinz evo, the moment I really understood it, and when my initial assessment changed, was on a long, uninterrupted section of the ride. I was riding at threshold in a torrential downpour and under the jacket, I was wearing a short sleeve winter base-layer, light arm warmers, and a summer jersey, but I was completely comfortable. Gone was all of the sweat buildup I’d experienced riding in drier conditions, and despite being what most people would consider under dressed, I was dry and warm.
Assos spells out exactly what this piece is designed to be, “the ultimate, racing-specific ASSOS rain jacket,” and they absolutely nail it. The problem is that it requires you to throw out any preconceived notions you might have. This is especially hard once you see it. The thin Triton materials – unique fabrics designed by Assos and manufactured in Switzerland for this jacket alone – cause you to immediately classify it as only a typical lightweight rain shell. It’s much more than that, though.
While the combination of Triton v1, a tough and waterproof fabric used primarily on the front panels, and Triton v2, a lighter and more breathable fabric used in the back, will indeed do the same job as your typical rain shell, that’s only the beginning. What really makes the Assos sturmprinz stand out is that it will keep you drier and warmer than you think it should. Layer it up underneath and when the weather really turns nasty, this piece will continue to be a trusty companion.
It wasn’t just the rs.sturmprinz evo I had the opportunity to test that day. I’ve also been taking a look at their overshoes. The overshoes I looked at are actually not rain specific. Take a look at the description of the thermobootie.uno_s7 and you’ll see them referred to as “wind and cold resistant”, and this actually suits me quite well. In my experience, no matter how waterproof overshoes might be, rain will run down my legs and bypass the rain barrier. What has been a bigger problem for me is keeping warm. In this regard, it makes sense to me that Assos has focused on warmth instead of water resistance.
Also, while they are not specifically meant to be water-resistant, the nature of the material means it’s somewhat resistant anyway. Some of the more important features of quality overshoes are the fit at the ankle, how robust the zipper is, and of course, how much feeling you’ll be left with in your toes at the end of a cold ride. When it comes to these features, the Assos thermobootie.unos7 excels. It’s not the cheapest piece out there, they carry a price of $119 in the US, but in comparison to offerings from other premium brands, these are close enough to be price competitive. I’ve found them to be a serious upgrade compared to cheaper offerings.
I have a lot of issues losing feeling in my toes on long, cold, rides, and these made an actual difference. That’s worth a lot to me, and that’s kind of the point here. It’s worth it to have a more enjoyable ride, and the fact that they’ve nailed the other details helps round out the package.
As I said before, Assos is a halo brand, and I absolutely think that the thermobootie.uno_s7 and the rs.sturmprinz evo rain jacket hold up to those standards. The rs.sturmprinz evo has an MSRP of $499 in the US and the thermobootie.uno_s7 runs $119. The bottom line is that while that isn’t cheap, these are exceptionally well made pieces that offer performance to match their price.
The rs.sturmprinz evo in particular is so good at what it does, it’s hard to even compare it to anything. Looking at it, you’d think it’s a light jacket for mild weather, and yet it will keep you warm and dry in extreme weather far beyond what you’d expect. If you can only buy one piece of winter gear that you’d like to use in a wide variety of conditions, the rs.sturmprinz evo is a very good choice.
Compare prices and buy cycling clothing from:
|Chain Reaction||Wiggle||Cayclestore||Evans Cycles|
|ProBikeKit||Rutland Cycling||Hargroves Cycles||Merlin Cycles|
|Ribble Cycles||AW Cycles||Biketart||Cycle Surgery|
|Leisure Lakes Bikes|