Assos bib shorts are synonmous with quality, comfort and performance. Whilst they are a top dollar garment, the Swiss manufacturer has built a solid reputation with its shorts. Assos have remained market leader for almost a decade. The hugely popular S5 series of shorts were released nearly five years ago, but there hasn't been a peep out of Assos with new range or technologies since then.
For 2014 Assos have broken their silence and brought in a new four-model line of men's bib shorts. Known as the S7 range, the line replaces the S5 range of shorts. Assos have been calling their new line a "game changer". We've decided to untangle the marketing slang, lexicon of cycle apparel and explain the new range.
The S7 range opens with the £129.99 NeoPro and tops out with the premium £309.99 Campionissimo. Assos believe that the S7 range is all about less is more. "Every seam is a friction point. Every seam is a breaking point. Every seam is more material." says development director Omar Visentin.
However seams connect panels, and we know that more panels equal a better, more contoured fit. So Assos strove to reduce the number of panels, without compromising fit. The new line also benefits from new textile technologies. Al lthe shorts in the S7 line use material that is denser, more elastic, provides more compression and is more abriasion resistant than those in the S5 line.
Each new model in the range has a specially design chamois but they are all based on the same priciples. The chamois in all the S7 shorts is now attached only by the front and rear edges, eliminating stitching which can create hot spots in sensitive place. Assos say this design allows the chamois to float inside the short, moving with the rider's body and elimination friction between skin and the chamois.
They all have a four-way stretch, three layers with cover sheet of waffled foam plus memory foam pads. The front of the short is cut lower than the previous edition to provide more breathability and freedom of movement.
The densely woven, 15 percent spandex straps that feature on all the shorts in the new line feel robust, more elastic veritically these new straps should silence the complaint from taller rider than the S5 straps dig into their shoulders. Each short has a 42mm wide leg band made from a material similar to the bib straps. A coloured stripe on the left leg denotes which model you're wearing: black for NeoPro, amethyst for Equipe, silver for Cento and gold (of course) for Campionissimo.
The Four S7 Shorts
Campionissimo — £309.99
Features a woven fabric instead of typical knit. The material is more susceptible to abrasions compared to the other S7 shorts but the woven fabric is 10% lighter and offers much better compression for comfort and all day performance. The foam pads are stitched to the body of the short not to the chamois cover. The fit isn't generous and won't appeal to all body types.
The chamois is cut away at the sides to reduce chaffing on very long rides and at the front there is a microfibre panel to provide ventilation for sensitive areas.
We say: the new bench mark for bib shorts. The best of everything, from a race for the ultimate long ride in super hot conditions to weather than is more manageable. This short will do everything and fit like a glove even after 10 hours.
Cento — £219.99
The second most expensive short. It has a generous cut with less compression and less restrictive fit on the waist and torso. The chamois is 10mm thick, 2mm thicker than the pads in the other shorts and has the same cut away sides and microfibre ventilation front panel as the Campionissimo.
We say: best for the bigger riders or those taking part in long events where you know you'll be in the saddle for a considerable amount of time.
Equipe — £159.99
This short is the second most compressive in the line. Made from a single material that Assos calls 439, it is more abrasion resistant than the lowest short in the S7 range. The 439 material has a dye treatment that reflects sunlight to keep you cooler.
We say: Shorts for racing and training over short to medium distances ideal for hot climates and summer events.
NeoPro — £129.99
The simplest of the S7 line, the fit of the short falls between the Equipe and Cento. The short shares the bib strap, leg gripper material and design with the Equipe and Cento but the material isn't as advanced and doesn't feature the dye treatment. The chamois is still luxurious and there is plenty of technology within those multiple layers of foam.
We say: The NeoPro is a dependable do-everything, daily workhorse model. A perfect short for those who are stepping up to Assos bib range and look for high quality shorts but are on a budget.