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Assos Equipe RS S9 bibshorts review

20 Mar 2019
Verdict:

This Swiss brand has again proved its shorts are simply hard to beat.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£175
For 
• Extremely comfortable male specific design • Bibs support the seat pad better than other designs • Feels light and luxurious

Shorts are an awkward product to review. I appreciate there is a lot of personal preference and what works for one may not necessarily be the same for everyone.

Occasionally, though, something comes along that has so many merits to its design that I can be fairly certain the vast majority will, like me, find it to their liking. That is how I feel about the Assos Equipe RS S9 short.

Frankly, these are the most comfortable shorts I have ever worn. And I’ll try to explain for why.

Buy the Assos Equipe RS S9 bibshorts from Wiggle

At a glance, you could be forgiven for thinking all cycling shorts are created much the same way, and only the quality of the fabrics and seat insert influence the not-insignificant differences in price. But that is not the case.

For a while there was a trend for making shorts out of multiple panels, in fact it almost became bragging rights to have the highest number of individual panels as this was thought to be the best way to pre-shape the short to match the contours of the rider in the riding position.

Whilst that did kind of stack up on paper, as fabric technologies have improved, the need for multiple panels has lessened. And fewer panels means fewer seams leading to less chance of rubbing/irritation and also less weight.

For instance, Assos’ S7 short used only 4 panels. Impressively, though, its latest Equipe RS S9 uses just 2. That makes it a really light short at just 300g but also means there are barely any seams.

What Assos originally termed (somewhat comedically) as the “Cuckoo Penthouse” remains an integral part of the design (in the men’s range), although thankfully Assos has dropped the silly name.

The theory is quite simple; there’s no getting around the fact a guy has stuff that needs somewhere to go in a tight-fitting bib short. Assos has considered this conundrum better than most in its design.

The front of the short is actually pre-formed to provide some additional room, plus internally the seat insert is sculpted specifically too, it’s much slimmer and more ventilated to aid breathability.

It’s immediately noticeable as soon as I put the Equipe RS S9 shorts on that this improves comfort considerably over other designs.

Without being too graphic, a lot of shorts require several attempts at adjusting ‘things down there’ before finding a comfy position, but with the Equipe RS S9 I found it was a one time thing.

These are the only shorts I can ride well over an hour on an indoor trainer and not suffer with any, shall we say; ‘issues of discomfort’.

What’s that you say? £175 bib shorts on a turbo? Well, yes, I would actually strongly argue it’s actually a great test of any pair of shorts. On a turbo you sit for prolonged periods churning out the watts in the same riding position.

If pain and discomfort is going to rear its ugly head anywhere it is on the indoor trainer, so I’d wager if they are comfy on the turbo they will certainly serve you well on the road. And of course, they do.

There’s more

There’s more the success of the design than just the well-considered shaping for men, though,

Another significant feature that sets the Equipe RS S9 short apart is what Assos terms ‘A-Lock technology’. This is essentially relating to how the bibs attach much lower down the back than previous iterations, literally now just above the top of the seat pad at the back.

This is done, Assos claims, to increase support for the seat pad. And it works.

Buy the Assos Equipe RS S9 bibshorts from Wiggle

It makes a palpable difference to the way the short is stabilised, especially switching between in and out of the saddle efforts. I felt I could sit straight back down and not need that second or two to kind of settle back into the short and find my optimal position. The S9s simply felt like they hadn’t moved.

Overall too the new fabric, Assos terms Type.441 – a 40 gauge warp knit – which in basic terms means it’s high compression and high wicking fabric, does have a light and silky smooth and luxurious feel next to skin.

The bib straps are light and wide, and with plenty of elasticity, are barely noticeable once the shorts are on, and lie completely flat, so disappear even under a very minimal tight fitting aero jersey.

It says a lot that I find myself reaching for these shorts time and again, and I am often genuinely disappointed to find them in the wash when I want to wear them.

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