Assos Equipe RS
The Assos Summer 2019 Jersey, Bibshorts, & Baselayer
One of the reasons I love reviewing Assos gear is because, time and time again, I see them follow a unique path down a well trodden trail. The reality is that as much as high end cycling brands want to differentiate their product, most cycling kits are not all that different. It’s a narrow usage range, and the solutions can only vary by a certain amount. There are definitely differences, though, and Assos is a brand that goes a long way in following a specific philosophy of design. Assos finds a space to make a different product, and this year’s S9 Equipe RS Bib shorts and Equipe RS Aero ss jersey definitely embody that philosophy.
What Assos does really well is use specific patterning and fabrics to bring unique performance features to their products. The big feature of this year’s S9 Equipe RS Bib shorts is something called “A-Lock Engineering.” A-Lock Engineering is the name of a unique attachment and panelling setup for the back of the shoulder straps on the low back.
Actually, to describe it as being about the low back primarily, sells it a bit short. It’s actually the foundation on which the rest of the design rests. The whole bib short only uses two panels. You’ve got one piece in the front that covers the crotch and lower abdomen, then both legs and the chamois area is all one piece of type.441 fabric.
In conjunction with this minimal panel design, the rear attachment of the bib straps happens just above the chamois, then again higher up, where the lower portion of the bibs end. It’s an unusual design for bib shorts that has the fabric section ending very low on the back with only the strapping continuing on. Typically, the back of a set of bib shorts will use a fabric panel that tapers up the back then transitions to the straps near the shoulder blades. The whole idea is to minimise movement of the bibs in relation to your body, and the question is does it work?
The reality is, despite sitting here reviewing the S9 Equipe RS Bib shorts after riding in them extensively, I actually can’t tell if it works, and I don’t think it matters. I’m not sure I have ever found excessive movement of my bibs in relation of my body to be an issue. The design does have other consequences, though, and it’s those other consequences that matter more.
The butterfly panelling that allows for minimal panels means that the seam along my inside thigh, in Castelli bibs among others, doesn’t exist in the S9 Equipe RS Bib shorts. This is the only place I’ve ever really had irritation from a bib, and finding a way to eliminate it is great.
Having less fabric in the back also makes for a marginally cooler garment. Assos also felt that the limited movement of the bibs allowed for a redesigned and thinner chamois. I find the new chamois better at the edges because it’s thinner, and they have also used a softer feeling fabric cover, which is always appreciated.
At the same time there are things that haven’t changed, that I find to be at the core of the Assos design philosophy. The use of type.441 fabric is new to this year’s product, but it’s not terribly different from other textiles Assos has used in years past, and that’s a good thing. It feels substantial, stabilising, and supportive on your muscles.
The front panel is another piece I find somewhat core to the Assos design philosophy. Castelli, and others, use a design that is very flat while Assos has a somewhat substantial pocket with significant venting. In some ways, I appreciate the flatter approach, but if you’ve ever felt a bit squashed, Assos has answered your prayers.
This year’s Equipe RS Aero ss jersey has undergone a smaller design change than the bibs, however, it continues to be one of my favorite jerseys of all time. Compared to last year, there are relatively small, but still significant, aesthetic changes, the major aesthetic change being the rear panel color.
Last year, it was black while this year it is white. I have no doubt the idea is to minimise heat absorption in the spot that’s most exposed to the sun, and Assos has used a denser fabric designed to provide more stabilisation. There are also a few small spots of red worked into the design, both front and back. You’ll also find small changes in the zipper and the ends of the sleeves.
None of this is groundbreaking stuff, but it’s what they kept that really tells the story of the Equipe RS Aero ss jersey. It has Goldilocks sleeves that are long enough to be aero but not so long as to be bothersome. It has a perfect neckline that follows all the latest aero trends without being overly obtrusive. A nice wide band at the waist that absolutely locks it down, and my favourite feature; perfect pockets that don’t catch the wind, but still hold everything I need for long days in the saddle.
This year, I also took a look at the Skinfoil Summer Base Layer. My favourite base layer has long been the Rapha Proteam ss base layer, but this year they have made the sleeves so long they now poke out of many of my jerseys. Having previously been so impressed with the Assos winter base layer, I decided it was time to try their summer option.
The Assos skinfoil summer base layer is just another example of the Assos preference to use unique and highly effective textiles. The fabric it is made of is extremely soft against your skin, and I absolutely love it. Unfortunately for me, I actually need a size smaller, and they don’t make it in a size smaller.
The winter skinfoil I reviewed fit perfectly in a size medium. It’s thicker with less stretch, and if I had gone down a size, I doubt I could get it on. The same size in the summer skinfoil was somewhat loose on me, but that’s not surprising given I wear an extra small in the Rapha baselayer. Going down to size small in the Assos base layer got me to a size that fit, but it’s not perfect.
That said, most people aren’t wearing a size extra small and aside from the size, I find the summer skinfoil a joy to wear. The truth is, I don’t ask a whole lot of my baselayer. It has to nail the feeling against your skin, and you’d be surprised how many companies fail that basic requirement. Assos nails it.
I’ve worn Assos kits a lot. My bibs have been worn for far too long, and far too many winter training sessions, without washing and yet, through all the hours and all the rough treatment, they have held up better than most. In terms of the jersey, it’s the jersey I wear more than any other, and last year’s version looks essentially brand new. As with any clothing, you’ll have to decide if the fit and style are what you want, but you can be sure that the quality is there.