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Assos Campionissimo jersey and bibshorts review

4 Oct 2016
Verdict:

Assos - the purveyor of luxury, Swiss-designed kit - sets a benchmark for performance, if your pockets are deep enough.

Price: 
£465

Ostensibly the creator of the first performance-oriented Lycra shorts, it would not be unreasonable to assume that Assos knows a thing or two about designing cycling kit. Since its inception in 1976 the Swiss brand has adopted a pioneering approach to developing performance wear. The results of this approach have earned Assos a distinguished reputation so when they released their current top-of-the-tree Campionissimo jersey and bibshorts, heads in the <Cyclist> office turned. Campionissimo translates to ‘champion of champions’, so to label kit with such an exalted title is a bold move, but having ridden in it for the last few weeks it can be said the name is justified.

Both garments are designed with competition in mind so fit is racy, with an unusually noticeable anatomic cut – out of an aggressive on-bike tuck they gently remind you what position you should be in. The jersey tugs at your shoulders, urging them to be rounded and the bib straps encourage you to pivot at the waist. Once you acquiesce to their requests the kit sits naturally, such that you ride without second thought about what you are wearing.

Considering its history it is not surprising that Assos is best known for its bibshorts, but in the T.Campionissimo_s7’s, Assos is guilty of another bold claim, stating its s7 chamois is a ‘Game Changer’. The core innovation that supports this claim is the ‘Golden Gate’, whereby the middle portion of the chamois is left unattached and free to conform to the rider’s body. This feature is backed up by Assos’ infamously named ‘kuKuPenthouse’ – where a section has been cut out of the three-layer chamois at the front and filled with a single-layer, soft fabric that aims to provide extra room and comfort for your kuku. The term ‘Game Changer’ might err towards marketing hype, but the design certainly works as no matter the distance or intensity of the ride the bibshorts remain among the most comfortable I’ve tested.

The heart of the shorts is backed-up by a brilliantly unusual body material. Assos’ proprietary Type A.444 ergoKompressor fabric manages to feel at once substantial but flexible, thin but supportive, which combines with the chamois to round off a thoroughly accomplished set of bibshorts. The £295 price tag can’t fail to invite knit-picking however and with that in mind, the fit could be a little longer in the leg in keeping with current trends for longer bibshorts. Similarly, the hem grippers could be a touch more tenacious but it says something about the quality of the shorts that I am reduced to such splitting of hairs.

Campionissimo jersey

Something that is all too common currently is for companies to invest heavily in bibshort technology with their jerseys coming across as an afterthought, so it is nice to test an outfit where the top half is as technically proficient as the bottom.

The front of the Campionissimo jersey is made from Assos’ type.002 material, which is dense and stretchy, and is coupled with an integrated skinFoil base layer. The back panel is constructed out of something different – Assos’ Type.220 fabric, which is a light mesh. The Campionissimo is billed as a summer jersey, and is perfectly suited to Alpine climbs – the mesh back acting as an exhaust for heat on ascents and the dual-layer front preventing wind chill on long descents.

In Britain the jersey’s intentions are slightly lost in translation – while the mesh back still sheds heat brilliantly the front, in the absence of Alpine descents, proved to be not quite breathable enough for consistent efforts on the hottest summer days. That said it is still a brilliant all-round jersey for British conditions, with the variable-layer construction working remarkably well with arm warmers as the temperature started to drop.

Assos.com

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