Here’s the last of our summer clothing reviews for 2012.
Assos have a well-earned reputation for high-quality clothing – at a premium. Fortunately the four items of summer kit we tested from the Swiss brand have more than enough about them to justify the price tag.
We’ve been riding in the SS1 Short Sleeve Jersey (£118.99), T FI.Mille_S5 Shorts (£169.99), sJ.blitzFeder Shell (£128.99) and Spring/Fall Socks (£9.99) for a few weeks now and it’s among the most comfortable and stylish ensemble we’ve tested.
SS1 Short Sleeve Jersey
The SS1 replaces the original SS.Uno jersey as the Swiss company’s ‘performance cycling jersey’. Assos say its construction is made up of 31 parts but, in truth, we can whittle it down to three: a quick drying polyester which makes up the main body of the jersey, a stretchier polyester with a hint of lycra for the arms and a lightweight mesh for the arm pits.
And the three work together superbly. In short, the jersey, made up of a 70 per cent polyester, 25 per cent polyamide and five per cent elastane mix, is exceptionally comfortable, breathable and quick drying.
The jersey is a little thicker to touch than many summer jerseys, but rarely feels so once its on. The main fabric, which Assos call Type.vX121, is lightweight and made up of three layers – a mesh covered on either side – which ensure that sweat is quickly moved away from the skin (helped by the underarm mesh sections).
The fit is also excellent; close without being restrictive, although Assos clothing is traditionally on the small side so consider moving up a size or try before you buy. The front of the jersey is noticeably shorter than most, so off the bike it feels a little odd but the jersey is designed for on the bike, of course, and the cut is dialed to a tee, matching the body’s shape when riding, leaving no material to bunch at the front of the jersey. A short, horizontal lycra panel at the bottom of the rear of the jersey combines with an elasticated band with silicone dots on the inside to keep the back of the jersey in place.
Otherwise it’s a fairly simple jersey, which is no bad thing; a full length zip is ideal for warm weather riding, the three rear pockets are well-sized and there’s an additional zipped pocket for valuables. This is a stylish piece, with Assos branding on the shoulders and rear to mark this out as a piece from the Swiss brand, and, along with the yellow option we tested, the jersey is available in black, white, red and blue.
T FI.Mille_S5 Shorts
The T FI.Mille_S5 shorts have been designed as long-distance bib shorts and a small pot of Assos-branded chamois cream further points towards their intended use.
So, have they been comfortable on long training rides of four hours-plus? In short, yes. The fit is superb, helped by an ergonomic, four-panel cut which means the shorts lock onto your legs when riding. Triple needle stitching and overlock seams both contribute to comfort, and the pad is from Elastic Interface, supplier to a host of brands, of which the most recently tested on RCUK is Cafe du Cycliste. It’s quite simple really; the shorts have a thick elastic band at the bottom of each leg, with a handful of silicon dashes on the inside, which, along with the cut, helps ensure the shorts don’t move when on the bike. At the other end, the mesh straps are secure, with enough stretch in them to make comfort breaks, erm, comfortable.
So the shorts are incredibly comfortable to pull on but equally integral to their billing as long-distance fare is the chamois. The Campionissimo insert is a little larger and thicker than many pads but doesn’t feel intrusive when riding. The surface of the insert is heavily dimpled which Assos say improves air flow and breathability, and it’s been up to the job on the handful of hot days we’ve had this summer. As well as chamois cream, the shorts also come with a 50ml bottle of detergent and a mesh washing bag. They’re also available in two lengths: regular, which in reality is a little shorter than most shorts, and long. All that makes for a pair of bib shorts which, while undeniably expensive, are among the best we’ve tested.
But while the jersey and shorts tested are both excellent, the blitzFeder Shell is the star of the show. It’s a lightweight, versatile piece which, thanks to the water and wind resistant fabric, has become our go-to shell for when there’s rain on the horizon – which, this summer, has been most days. The jacket quickly and easily folds into itself to create a small, dense bundle a touch bigger than your fist which means it will comfortably fit in a jersey pocket.
Key to the blitzFeder’s success is its versatility in changeable conditions. One particularly foul summer’s day, on a group ride of approaching four hours in intermittent but heavy showers, tested the blitzFeder to its limit. Let’s be clear, this is not a waterproof jacket and some water will get in (by way of the ventilation panels at the least) when riding in persistent rain, but otherwise this is a superb jacket for staving off showers or if there’s a chill in the air. Plus the fit, close but never tight, is absolutely spot-on – the best we’ve come across for a jacket like this – with little excess material to flap about in the wind.
The jacket is also very breathable, thanks to the mesh panels which run the length of either side (from the hem, up the underside of the arm to the cuff) which allow heat to escape, avoiding the boil in the bag effect that comes with so many water resistant shells. That means the blitzFeder’s ideal for summer, when temperatures often remain mild even when it’s raining, but Assos also advertise it as a spring and autumn jacket and it’ll get plenty of use throughout the year.
There’s not much to say about socks but these are a good effort from Assos. They’re lightweight, with a mesh section which runs around the arch of the foot, and well supported, with only minimal padding, which I like as it helps to minimise pressure points. Assos say the socks are suitable for riding in temperatures ranging from eight degrees to 22 degrees, so they’ll get plenty of use and we also found them lightweight enough to use on slightly warmer days without any problems.