Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
There are things we expect from Assos – beautiful fabrics, perfect fit, incredible craftsmanship, cutting edge innovation and yes, high prices. What we don’t expect is mountain bike gear from the uber-stylish Swiss road brand, but that is exactly what it delivered a few days prior to Eurobike near its headquarters in Lugano, Switzerland.
peloton/photos courtesy Assos
Don’t expect to see Assos baggy’s or flat brim caps anytime soon. Assos MTB gear is aimed squarely at the rider currently using their road gear on the trail. These are XC and endurance racers as well as any performance trail rider still debating the merits of baggy shorts on tight trails with trees, bushes and rocks just waiting to snag you.
The crossover between roadies and endurance mountain bikers is massive and not lost on Assos. In fact, if you have paid attention to the Cape Epic MTB race in South Africa the last few years you would have been able to see Assos put the line through much of its extensive testing.
After almost seven years of development, Assos has launched a three-piece MTB line that is sure to grow in the near future. It includes new bib shorts called the T.Rally, and two jerseys, the CapeEpic and the RallyTrekking. Every one of the these items, while leaning on Assos’s extensive road background, is a ground up design for the dirt with exclusive fabrics and painstaking attention to panels, fit and function.
T.Rally_s7 Bib Shorts
Last year’s launch of the s7 line of road shorts made waves. The shorts are just fabulously good, so Assos used them as the basis for these shorts. They are considered the same level as the T.Campionissimo_s7, which is Assos’s top of the line, but reinvented for the dirt.
Instead of a race fit, they feature a more relaxed ‘regular’ fit. This isn’t to say they aren’t race worthy, but the regular fit delivers a better feel in the saddle thanks mountain biking’s more upright riding style and extra body movement. Assos uses three fabrics and ten panels in the shorts. Single panels wrap each leg while front and back panels help make up the majority of the short. Two more panels make up a small security pocket at the back of the bibs while the remaining four panels create pockets for the small hip pads. Assos has done away with the panel between the bib straps to reduce friction with a hydration pack and allow more movement.
The fabrics are MTB specific, with a higher level of abrasion resistance and an overall robustness designed for mountain biking’s frequent rate of unplanned dismount. They also provide controlled compression which Assos has found is even more important in the mountains thanks to increased vibration and higher rate of pace change due to steep kickers and short down hills.
The increased robustness also slightly increases weight. The T.Rally fabric is 227grams per-square meter versus 200grams for the s7 road shorts. The front and back panels use another MTB specific fabric that is both antibacterial and incredibly elastic, yet still run proof. At the front it has been doubled to create a stable platform for the insert. The other fabric, for the rear pocket and protection pockets is a light mesh, only 90grams per square meter, but still robust enough or the dirt. The bib straps are the first crossed bib straps in Assos history. They also dive down deep into the front of the shorts to create a tougher attachment.
The insert is the now famous s7 ‘Golden Gate’ pad that is not stitched all the way around to allow it to move with your body – especially important in the dirt. Painstaking attention has also been paid to the placement of seams away from high friction areas. The pad is still only 8mm thick, like Assos most road pads, but placed slightly farther back for the upright riding position. Speaking of pads, the polyurethane pads Assos uses for the T.Rally have undergone as much testing as the rest of the shorts. They were chosen because they actually dissipate some impact energy as heat, as well as being stable across a large range of temperatures.
Assos actually has plenty of experience making jerseys for XC racing, Nino Schurter has been wearing them at Swiss national team events for years. MTB Racers want simplicity, they want light, they want tight, and in the words of the Assos design team, ‘They want no bullshit’. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
The SS.CapeEpic is simple in the Assos world, but with three fabrics and 16 panels it would be considered exceptionally technical by most brands. It uses a fairly traditional 100% polyester circular knit for the main fabric, but beefs up the durability over a road jersey as well as a more relaxed ‘regular’ fit for the MTB position. The elasticity is asymmetric with less elasticity vertically to hold pocket contents secure. Keeping the endurance rider in mind, a fourth zippered pocket is nestled in the middle traditional pocket.
The Polyester fabric gives Assos the ability to sublimate the jersey and it has done so with a nod to the race that gave it its name, the Cape Epic. Zebra stripes on one side blend with the clean Assos aesthetic on the other – in red and white, green and white and traditional Assos black and white.
As clean and simple as the CapeEpic jersey is, the RallyTrekking jersey is technical and full featured. It is a trail jersey designed for days as long as the trail is epic. It features six fabrics and an astounding 25 panels.
The main fabric is an all-new creation called Type188. While most jerseys are polyester, Type188 is 85% polymide, only 9% polyster and 6% spandex. Polymide is one of the strongest fibers, incredibly durable and absorbs very little water or sweat. Due to a low melting point it is not suitable for sublimation, which is one of the reasons it’s not used very often. The other reason is creating a comfortable and wearable fabric from this material takes serious design and development and only companies like Assos have the time and knowledge to take it on.
The other truly standout fabric is a deep 3D mesh used at the back and shoulders. Not only does it breath incredibly well, it dampens the load of a full hydration pack over a long day. The fabric’s stretch is carefully controlled to move with your body, but not let your pocket contents slosh around. The rest of the jersey’s fabrics and fit, again the ‘regular’ Assos fit, have been equally well thought out. It features reflective accents, a zippered security pocket and even a small piece of non-stretch finishing at the neck line for more pocket load management.
Due to the 3D mesh’s position and transparency it offers little UV protection. Assos bundles the RallyTrekking jersey with its NS.skinFoil_summer base layer. If it is ridden without a base layer, Assos highly recommends sunscreen. This does however significantly raise the price of the jersey, which is not a small issue with Assos’s already premium position.
SS.rallytrekkingJersey_evo7 & NS.skinFoil_summer: $399 (skinFoil is $89 stand alone)