Saturday, December 11, 2010

Assos Winter LL Bib Tights - First Ride

The Assos Winter LL Bib Tights (no pad) are the best winter tights I have ever used and I wish I hadn't waited this long to try them.

There, I said it.

As a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to cycling clothing, this was a hard thing for me to admit. If you looked through my cycling wardrobe, this is abundantly clear. I tend to take good care of my gear and hold on to it for a LONG time. For example, my old tights were almost a decade old and my winter jacket is a series of neon pink and purple panels as if it was ripped right off the back of some 80's pop singer. I found myself shopping around for some new tights since my old ones were finally starting to show their age (ripped seams, the pad was in bad shape, all the zippers were busted), it was time to lay them to rest.

This box just oozes cachet 
I did a ton of investigating and reading reviews and it seemed like a majority of folks gave the Assos Winter LL bib tight high marks. I shopped around and found a good deal, and, with a bit of trepidation, I parted with the $230 smacks to acquire these Gucci-esque cycling tights.

And boy, these things are fancy. Why, just look at the box they came in. No loose garment thrown into a plastic ziplock bag, Assos wants to give you the whole experience when you buy their stuff and that comes through with the packaging, the tissue wrapped article of clothing, and even this neat little plastic tag that doubles as an information card/credit card/cash holder to take with you on rides.

Maybe I'll model them next time. If you're lucky...
Pulling the tights out of the box, I was immediately surprised by their lightness. For winter tights, these certainly aren't very heavy. I gotta admit, I was a bit concerned. That is, until I slipped my hand inside them and my fingers were engulfed in a fleecy wonderland. Some sections actually have double the fabric for additional protection. Awesome. I was excited to give these things a run.

A bit about their insulation and protection. This is Assos warmest tight and they use some sort of Roubaix-type fleece, with a no doubt aero-space inspired fabric that is both stretchy, windproof and breathable.

I know what you're thinking. Every damn bib tight uses similar fabrics, well, here's a few things that set these apart. They've got bib straps with a nice mesh back to keep you from getting too sweaty, a zipper on the waist which is great when a fella has to heed the call of nature, stirrups (you can't see 'em in this photo, but they're there) to help keep the ankle areas warm and, my biggest reason for purchasing, NO PAD.

In my opinion, winter cycling tights should never have a pad. If the weather is cold enough that you need to use tights, then you can stand to put on cycling shorts under your tights. It makes them sooo much more versatile. Your layering options are endless. And, the best reason, LESS WASHING...

OK, so the tights are out of the box, and I've finished my verbal giz-fest about the materials - now the big question - How do they fit??

DISCLAIMER: I've not ridden a whole lot since last December. I've put on some weight. Hell, who am I kidding? I've put on a lot. Twenty pounds in fact. The svelte folks reading this may have a different experience.

With that off my chest (wish it was off my belly...), the fit is very tight. I tried them on with a pair of cycling bib shorts on underneath to get an accurate fit and they fit really snug around my quads, butt and gut. According to the Assos size chart, I am a Large. I actually bought a Large and an XL just to make sure I got the right size. I tried both on and  the only discernable difference that I could tell between the LG and the XL was the length. The XL was a little bunched up around the knees and calves, while the Large was nice and smooth everywhere. The snugness still had me a bit worried. That's when I remembered all the reviews saying you need to ride in them to truly appreciate their fit.

That's what I did.

Holy shit. I have never ridden in a pair of tights where there was no perceptible drag or inefficiency felt from all that extra fabric. That is, until now. These things felt like I was only wearing cycling shorts. It was amazing. For some reason, once you get on the bike, your position just makes all the snugness and pulling go away and you are left feeling very... uh... natural.

As far as warmth, it was about 32 - 34 F, and they provided just the right amount of warmth. If it was colder, like teens, I would probably throw on some leg warmers underneath and be just fine. The wind panels did a great job, although my posterior did get a little cold by the time my hour ride was completed.

Bottom line: It's obvious from these tights that Assos is obsessed with the details. From the packaging, and tags, to the fit on bike, it's all about the details. It obviously pays off, I'm sold on these tights after only one ride. I would love to try some of their other clothing as well.

Going forward I will be very interested to see how these tights hold up over time, to me that's the true test. I'll try to update everyone as the winter progresses to see if they've lived up to their hype.

Additional images below:
Assos logo sown to right butt cheek

Laundry care tags are on the outside so they don't irritate 
Label sown right at the zipper junction to add reinforcement

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