Assos airJack 851 jacket £175
For years and years Assos has held a place at the top of the list for most desirable clothing, with its combination of performance, comfort, fit and features finding many fans, but we’re seeing its position as the first choice being increasingly challenged. So to find out if Assos can still hold onto this position we’ve tested its latest jacket.
And it all gets off to a cracking start. The airJack 851 is a recent addition to the substantially large Assos range, and falls into the company’s ‘Winter’ range. This means, of the eight temperature ranges used to categorise its clothing, the jacket will cope with temperatures from zero to eight degrees. Testing in a range of conditions has revealed it’ll happily go several degrees either side, provided the right layering is underneath.
Where the jacket really performs, though, is in its wind protection. With the majority of the chest area, front-side of the sleeves and the collar covered in airBlock 851 material – the company’s recently introduced active, breathable 4-way stretch insulator membrane fabric – wind resistance is capable of withstanding even the coldest, most bitter winds. The material is essentially two layers, with a new inner layer that is designed to channel air away from your body, and is identifiable by its recessed-dimpled surface.
Fit is another area where Assos really have an answer for critics of the price tag, as the jacket wraps itself closely around the contours. AEPD II (Advanced Ergonomic Pattern Design), refers to the ‘cut’, which is tailored for when a rider is in the typical cycling position. This is evident on many jackets, usually meaning a high front and lower back. On the airJacket it means less bunched up material for less restriction and increased freedom of movement. Weight is also noticeably low, which when combined with the fit combines for an incredibly comfortable garment. Ensuring the jacket stays put and snug at the waist is a section of gripper-tape lined elastic around the rear of the waist.
At this price you’d expect a decent amount of features, and the airJacket doesn’t disappoint, being laden with nice touches. The four large rear-mounted pockets are a particular highlight, with the additional zipped pocket mounted outboard of the right-hand pocket easily accessible while riding. A tall section of reflective material ensures other road users spot you – plus the white colour we tested rates high on visibility factor. The back of the collar is lined with soft Roubaix material, the cuffs are made from a similarly soft material and worked well with all gloves. The collar snap button however, being a two-handed job, can be tricky to close when riding along, unless you’re comfortable riding no hands.
Of all the Assos jackets, this is perhaps the one best suited to typical British weather likely to be encountered. It happily copes with the worst of the recent cold spells, and when the temperature picks up adjustment of the layers makes the airJack still usable above the recommended eight degrees maximum.
The white does stand out and is perhaps an acquired taste. It’s not the most practical colour as I’ve managed to get some oil stains on, which so far haven’t washed out. Four other, slightly more practical, colours are available though. Five sizes are available, but for the purposes of this test I wore a large, which fitted perfectly.