I love checking out the latest high-end race oriented cycling kits. In the past, that has included some great brands you might not have heard of — orNot, la Passione, Roka, and Deathrow Velo — as well as brands that are more commonly seen such as Castelli and, of course, Rapha. But the conversation would not be complete without including Assos.
Assos is a brand with a storied history and a lot of racing experience. In fact, if you missed my coverage of their recently released forToni jersey take a moment to be a fly on the wall as some of the giants in the industry reminisce on racing in Assos. A tradition of excellence isn’t always a predictor of the current state of things, though, just ask Blackberry.
So while it’s great when a brand has that kind of history, it’s still important to look at today’s offerings objectively. In this case, anyone looking for an objective examination of Assos and their SS.équipeJersey_evo8 jersey and T.équipe_S7 bibshorts is probably wondering one of two things. Is the Assos summer cycling kit worth the money? How does Assos summer cycling kit compare to those offered by other companies?
The most typical topic of conversation regarding comparisons of Assos involves a comparison to Rapha. If you are doing some research on where to spend your money, it’s impossible not to find threads that seemingly never end with passionate supporters in both camps arguing whether to spend money on Assos or Rapha.
Now that I’ve had them both side by side, let me start by repeating, with a calmer demeanor, what others have said before me. There isn’t a clear-cut answer as to which is better. They both occupy the same consumer market, but they go at it from a very different directions.
The story of Rapha is the story of a modern brand leveraging marketing and technology to create a modern product. Meanwhile, the story of Assos, at least to me, is very much the story of brand built on the foundation of cycling and moving that history forward into the modern era.
They are both leveraging technology, but even in that regard, Assos goes at things quite a bit differently. The SS.équipeJersey_evo8 jersey and T.équipe_S7 bibshorts are somewhat traditional, although certainly evolved, in their silhouette, and the area I see Assos as really innovating is in their use of fabrics as well as a few, somewhat subtle, or maybe hidden is a better description, uniquely Assos design choices.
On the Rapha side, you’ll find a much more dramatic split from cycling kits of old. Which one you prefer is very much going to come down to your body and particular sense of style. Let’s move past the comparison though and talk about some of what makes the SS.équipeJersey_evo8 jersey and T.équipe_S7 bibshorts unique.
As I said, they follow a somewhat traditional silhouette. The length of the legs and sleeves is exactly what you would expect, not too short and not following the direction of some brands with their longer offerings. On my legs, the end of the bibs is about 4 inches (10 centimeters) from the top of my knee cap and is finished with a traditional elastic gripper and silicone on the inside to minimise slippage.
Assos calls out their gripper as being ultra minimal, and I do find that to be an apt description. The bibs are easy enough to pull on but don’t slip once in position. The big features of Assos designed bib shorts revolves around two key differentiators.
The first is a floating chamois that is only secured where absolutely necessary and mostly allowed to move with your body. For me, this was not of any particular advantage. Given the racing fit, described as a fit that is tighter and slightly more compressive than the alternative regularFit and comfortFit options, and excellent sizing, there just isn’t much room for the chamois to actually move around. That’s by design, but I’m mentioning it because I could feel no difference between this free-floating design and the designs of other companies where the chamois is not able to move.
In fact, for me, the chamois was a challenge because of the 8mm thickness. That’s a pretty thick chamois and while it may be excellent for those preferring a thicker pad, for me, the big drop off the straight cut edges wasn’t comfortable. The other big feature of Assos bibs is the design of the shoulder straps and low front.
The straps attach pretty far out on the hips, and there is a very low front designed to free up any potential restriction when bent at the waist in an aggressive riding position. I had been somewhat sceptical of this overall design, however, I did find it to be exceptionally comfortable. The straps, in particular, are only subtly different from what other companies use but are worlds more comfortable.
What really struck me while reviewing this kit, though, was not the subtleties of the T.équipe_S7 bibshorts but rather just how good the SS.équipeJersey_evo8 is. This was surprising because the discussion of Assos is almost always centered around the unique bib short features. Meanwhile, the SS.équipeJersey_evo8 might be the best jersey I’ve ever ridden with.
It’s in the jersey that the Assos penchant for creating their own fabrics and mixing different fabrics in different panels is really on display. Assos calls out three different fabrics being used in the SS.équipeJersey_evo8. There is Mini Check Tex, described as, an “Open 3D knit fabric that has truly exceptional breathability. Rapid drying and super light. UPF25 despite being weighing so little. Built in Odor Control for durability and hygiene.”
Then on the side panels there is the Sens Classic Tex: “A lightweight, super-stretch material engineered by ASSOS to improve comfort in areas where elasticity and softness are beneficial.” And finally, the Stabilizator S7 Knit which is a “Featherweight but strong material, perfect for creating a cooling panel on the back of the cycling jersey. Maintains stability and alignment – and has UPF30 – despite its minimal weight and volume.”
In particular, I found the side panels to be exceptionally comfortable and the choice of a tougher material inside the pockets to be a really smart design. In fact, I found the pockets to be exceptional all around, although, I will continue to crown Rapha the leader when it comes to pockets if only because they include a small zippered pocket. Anytime I find the zippered pocket missing, I shake my head because it’s such a fantastic addition.
There’s always a choice of whether I review products in comparison to the competition or in a vacuum. In this case, the Assos vs Rapha dialogue is so strong out there, I feel like it’s an appropriate point of discussion. I don’t know that I’ve ever really compared two products that occupy similar markets and found a clear winner, and that’s the story here as well.
I like most things about the Assos T.équipe_S7 bibshorts, although, the chamois of the Rapha Pro Team II bib shorts actually worked better for me. I do really love the fabric choices that Assos has made, although, I wish that the crotch wasn’t visually highlighted the way that the slightly different fabric used there causes it to be. At the end of the day, they are really comfortable bibs, and the Assos style suspenders are as good as people say.
When it comes to the jersey, I found things switched a bit, and I prefer the Assos SS.équipeJersey_evo8 over the Rapha Pro Team jersey. The Assos jersey never comes up and the Rapha jersey does. The only thing I’d like to see different on the Assos jersey is the inclusion of a zippered pocket.
In terms of pricing, Assos has a reputation. They have a reputation for being even more expensive than the already expensive, in reputation Rapha offerings, but Assos actually comes in a bit lower here. The Assos SS.équipeJersey_evo8 has an MSRP of $169 and the T.équipe_S7 bibshorts have an MSRP of $219. I think where you spend your money should probably hinge around your particular sense of style as well your preference for chamois thickness.
The Assos offering is a bit thicker, and if that’s what you prefer, then that’s where I’d point you. In terms of the jerseys, they are both exceptionally comfortable, and they both have small advantages or disadvantages, so truthfully, there’s isn’t going to be a wrong choice there. Go with what your style dictates.