In an effort to post more often (it isn't working, btw), we have begun to expand the range of topics beyond "hard goods". This is the first of many clothing and accessory posts and reviews. We hope that you find them useful.
This summer I was looking for a new kit to update my gear bin. It had become apparent that it was time to retire a few of my shorts that had become a little threadbare in a few spots, so there was room in the rotation.
My criteria was simple: quality black bibs shorts to match any jersey for less than $200. Now that I am older and have a family, I am always looking to get the most value for my money. This isn't to say that I am looking for the cheapest option, but the best balance between price and quality. When it comes to purchasing in our household, our motto is usually "buy it once, buy it right".
With that in mind I made a short list of brands and models I was interested in. Price point put Rapha out immediately (the Core collection was not out yet), while availability removed other brands from consideration. Ultimately, Assos won the day, thanks to aggressive online pricing.
For those who have read some of our other reviews, this one is going to feel very similar to our Pinarello Dogma review. The parallels are obvious: a storied brand with a loyal following and a premium price to match. Do they live up to the hype?
Yes, yes they do.
There were two Assos models that were within my price range: the T.Neopro_S7 and the T.Equipe_S7. I decided to spend a little extra for the increased compression offered by the "racing fit" of the Equipe. Based on the very simple online size guide, I ordered an XL.
They arrived the small black and pink box opened to reveal an small, high quality, glossy "magazine" about Assos and their product lineup. It was all very nice, but I couldn't help but wonder at its utility. I realize that there is value attached to branding; and if you want to justify high end prices, you have to provide a high end experience, however, I personally would rather have $5, or $10, or $15 off of the price of the garment rather than have a magazine that is just going to end up in the recycling bin.
Marketing materials aside, the bibs themselves had a noticeable "premium" feel to them just lifting them out of the box. While I can't say I experienced "the click" after putting them on, they are definitely some of the most comfortable shorts that I have ever worn. The shoulder straps are wide, with a bit of structure so they do not bunch up. The Equipes do not have the kukuPenthouse (look it up) that is featured on the higher end models, however, they are still the roomiest and most comfortable shorts in the frontal area.
The shorts are all black, save for a thin strip of pink around the left leg opening, and have an understated syle. Assos uses coloured striping for model designation, and to allow everyone on the group ride to quickly know who spent the most on their bibshorts. I mean, what is the point of having a $500 pair of shorts, if nobody knows that they are $500 (grin)? To me the pink is subtle and does't effect the style in anyway, but I have heard others complain.
In wearing the Equipes, it becomes apparent the kind of care and attention that has gone into making these shorts. It is understandable why the Assos brand has such a fervent fan base.. For anyone looking for a high quality bibshort. Consider me converted. I will still buy and use other brands of shorts, but, at the moment, the T.Equip_S7 bibshorts are firmly at the top of my rotation. If you are in the market, they are worth a look.