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Assos Equipe RS Spring/Autumn Range: first ride review

14 Nov 2019
Verdict:

The new Assos Equipe RS line marries aero performance with extra insulation to set you up for the change in seasons

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Superb aero fit, insulation and warmth far beyond what you'd expect, outstanding bibshorts
Against 
Limited time when it will be most useful, Doesn't come cheap

Assos has launched its new Equipe RS Spring/Autumn (incorrectly named 'Fall' by the brand) range of kit, including a jacket, short sleeve jersey, gilet and bibshorts, aimed at delivering race-level performance with added insulation, perfect for those chilly late and early season races.

Assos Equipe RS Spring/Autumn Jacket £260

Don’t be misled by the term ‘jacket’ here. I would be happier if Assos had called this piece a long sleeve thermal jersey, because in reality that is more what it feels like.

Putting on the Equipe RS Jacket feels like you’re zipping yourself into a skinsuit, the fit very much indicative of fast-feeling, aerodynamic kit, but it’s not cheating the wind that is its highest priority, it’s protecting you from it, and even using it to help keep you warm. Let me explain further.

The insulation on offer is surprising given how light and minimalist the Equipe RS Spring/Autumn jacket feels. I set out on one morning ride with the thermometer on my garden gate showing a mere 9°C as I left.

On that ride, I began with the Equipe RS Aero Gilet on as well (I’ll come back to that shortly), but despite the chilliness of the air, after less than 10 minutes of riding, and not even at particularly high intensity, I felt comfortable enough to ride in just the jacket alone (note: wearing a merino base layer beneath).

I wouldn’t have believed I could feel comfortable in such low temperatures with seemingly so little clothing on and, I might add, it would likely have been even a few degrees cooler taking into account wind-chill.

The face fabric on the front of the jacket is not windproof, as per a number of competitor garments, yet regardless, there was no sense of a biting wind getting through its defences.

So how does Assos claim it works? Aside from the technical fabrics used in its construction, in particular a kind of 3D micro-fleece used for the interior front panels, on each shoulder there is an opening - Assos refers to them as ‘Valves’- allowing air to flow into the space between the two front, outer layers – effectively then becoming trapped, warmed and thus further enhancing the level of insulation.

The valves also play a part in allowing excess heat back out, along with the highly breathable rear panel, which is little more than mesh. That’s the theory.

In use it’s impossible to say you can feel the ‘valves’ actually working, but equally the jacket did seem highly capable at insulating from a biting wind, so I can only conclude in favour of Assos’s design intentions.

Buy the Assos Equipe RS Spring/Autumn Jacket from Wiggle for £260

At this point I must stress a caveat though. This is not a garment aimed at steady riding. It does require a degree of physical effort on the user’s part to keep up the success of its thermal insulation properties; i.e. you need to generate some by body heat by riding at a decent intensity to get the best from it.

Especially, I found, as the sleeves only offer very minimal insulation. If I eased off too much then I could sense my arms getting cold fairly quickly.

Balancing insulation with high levels of breathability for high intensity riding in colder conditions has always been a tricky conundrum for clothing manufacturers, but Assos has certainly achieved that here and this new range feels like a big developmental step for the brand, even if the market for this type of kit is arguably fairly niche.

If it has a downside it's that it is expensive (£265) taking into consideration it's not necessarily a 'year-round' item. As its name obviously suggests, there is only a limited time/temperature range when this Equipe RS Jacket will be ideal. I'd estimate 10-15 degrees would be its sweetspot, and as such there may be large parts of the year when it's either just too cold or too warm to use it.

Assos doesn't try to hide that, though, clearly marketing these new products as the perfect choice for late (or indeed, early) season events/races, and for that, I would indeed concur. The Equipe RS Spring/Autumn Jacket would fulfil this role brilliantly. It has noticeably more thermal insulation than the traditional jersey, gilet, arm warmer combo, and with an undeniably aero fit to boot.

Buy the Assos Equipe RS Spring/Autumn Jacket from Wiggle for £260

Equipe RS Spring/Autumn Aero Gilet £200

The Equipe RS Aero Gilet is not like most other gilets I’ve used. The construction is more purposeful, in so much as many gilets are just thin, lightweight and fairly unstructured garments for the most part, but the Equipe RS feels very much built to be part of this racey, aero system.

The front panel is constructed from three-layer softshell fabric, which feels dense and is highly effective at combatting the oncoming breeze, whilst offering plenty of stretch in all directions so as not to impair movements.

The cut of the sleeves almost looks like someone hacked the arms off a jersey with scissors, but what that creates is a totally flat, seamless transition from gilet to the garment beneath, which both looks totally sleek and no doubt maintains the desired aero performance.

The neckline is well considered; high to the front to stave off the chilly draughts, but lower and softer at the rear, so as not to impose when you’re hunkered down, head tilted back.

In a few words I sum the gilet up as: simplicity that works.

Equipe RS Spring/Autumn S9 Bibshorts £200

Last but not least comes the Equipe RS Spring/Autumn S9 bibshorts.

I have ridden a lot in this short’s summer-weight sibling, the Equipe RS S9, and found that to be certainly one of, if not the best bib short I have ever worn, so I had high hopes for this slightly more insulated version, based on the same S9 construction and seat pad.

Buy the Assos Equipe RS Spring/ Autumn bibshorts from Wiggle for £200

The key challenge to my mind was whether Assos could manage to add in the necessary extra thermal insulation on the panels where it’s needed but without detracting from the short’s flexibility and fit.

And my findings? It’s spot on. I’m pleased to discover this short is every bit as comfortable as its lighter-weight brethren and the noticeable improvement in its insulation properties has not come at the cost of its class leading performance.

Price: 
from £200

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