Friday, 23 September 2011

New Assos Autumn Winter 2011 2012 Range

Assos this week updated their site with the new Autumn/Winter 2011 products. This is a huge number of new items - more than any other seasonal release before. One aspect of the new range that is especially pleasing to see is a focus on rain protection - very welcome indeed in the UK climate and something Assos hasn't really focused on before with the sole nod to precipitous weather being the ageing ClimaJet jacket. The photos on the site and in promotion literature seemed almost to deny the existence of any kind of downpour with image after image of cold, yet bone dry conditions. Happily this has now changed.

I'm probably not alone in having difficulty dressing appropriately for specific temperatures when wet. Around 10-15˚c an Airblock vest and arm warmers are sufficient - you get wet but remain warm. Sub 5˚c is also not a problem - A Goretex jacket, waterproof biblongs and neoprene overshoes keep you dry and the low temperature prevents overheating. The troublesome temperature is between 5 and 10˚c (a little higher if it's really wet). Hopefully some of the new Assos rain products will be appropriate for these conditions.

Beginning with jackets we have three new models:

Assos iJ.bonKa.6
RRP: £350.00

The iJ.bonKa.6 is a replacement for the 851 airJack, which has been around now for eight years. The jacket is available in two fit types - CENTO for slimmer racer types and MILLE for what Assos kindly describe as "the more robust, performance regular fit athletic body type". Interestingly the description on Assos' site says "ASSOS offers 7 climarange - specific interactive body insulators. Preferably, use the bonka with mod.interactive.6", apparantly referring to an as yet unreleased base layer. I'll speculate that these are perhaps due for launch next spring and rather than naming them by season as they do now, I'm guessing they may simply number them by the thickness of the fabric. Alternatively I could be completely wrong and they are referring to the earlyWinterInteractive model which is sixth in the range if you count from the top of the page.

Note that some of the photos of this jacket show the model wearing it inside out - fortunately it doesn't have all that writing on the back.

Assos iJ.tiburu.4
RRP: £200.00

The iJ.tiburu.4 replaces the elementOne and improves on it in several areas, namely a better fit and reduced weight. Like its predecessor it doesn't feature any windproofing airblock material so is best coupled with a vest.

Assos rS.sturmPrinz
RRP: £350.00

The rS.sturmPrinz is designed to be a no-compromise competition specific rain jacket. Using a new "TRITON" fabric it is Assos' take on the ultimate weather protection. This looks very interesting for the UK climate and I'm keen to see how it fares.

Two new shells:

Assos sJ.climaSchutz
RRP: £200.00

Replacing both the sJ.13 luftSchutz and the ClimaJet, hence the name, the sJ.climaSchutz is intended to protect from wind and light rain.

Assos sV.climaSchutz
RRP: £150.00

A sleeveless version of the sJ.climaSchutz, replacing the old ClimaJet vest.

To compliment the jackets on top there are three new bottoms:

Assos LL.fugu_S5
RRP: £400.00

The "fugu" name has seen gradual extension of use from the original fuguJack to the fuguHelm cap introduced last year. These bibs, looking almost like a cross between a tri-suit and a wetsuit fit into the extreme low end of the clima range. A few years ago it would be easy to dismiss such an item as irrelevant to the UK, but given the temperatures greatly preceeding zero the past two winters they may find a purpose.

Assos hL.607_S5
RRP: £189.00

A bib-less version of the early winter LL.607_S5

Assos hK.sturmNuss
RRP: £200.00

Using the same TRITON fabric as the rS.sturmPrinz, these 3/4 length shorts are essentially the same thing for your bottom half. Just as a shell isn't skin tight, neither are these.

Now onto accessories:

Assos armProtector_S7
RRP: £29.00

Assos kneeProtector_S7

RRP: £39.00

Assos legProtector_S7
RRP: £49.00

The white armProtectors have been around for a fair few years and Assos has extended the range to offer not only a new version with updated graphics in a new material but also knee and leg versions. These difference between these and the warmers below is the thickness of the fabric. The thinner protectors are ideal for chilly late spring and summer mornings.

Assos armWarmers_S7
RRP: £39.00

Assos kneeWarmer_S7

RRP: £49.00

Assos legWarmer_S7
RRP: £59.00

These replace the previous arm, knee and leg warmers and introduce a better fit (the previous arm warmers were straight), updated logos and hopefully resolve the problem of the elastic snapping and also the unrealistically tight fit of the previous knee warmers - my calves are not large by any stretch of the imagination but I have to wear Mavic knee warmers as the Assos ones are simply too restrictive. The new fabric looks great and I'm keen to get a pair of both the arm and knee ones as soon as I can.

Assos earlyWinterGlove_S7
RRP: £79.00

These replace the earlyWinter 851 and offer reduced volume and increased protection.

Assos fuguGloves
RRP: £100.00

A heavy duty (but not heavy weight) winter glove. It's not clear from the photo if there is only a zip on the left hand but it seems like a good idea - it's often difficult to get the second glove on with the reduced tactility of the first hand.

Assos rainGloves_S7
RRP: £59.00

Specifically developed for use in the rain, these neoprene gloves are an interesting proposition. They don't claim to be waterproof, but instead state that the material does not let cold water penetrate, so they may work on the wetsuit principle - wet but still warm. It will be good to find out how well these work when the mercury really drops.

Assos insulatorGlove L1
insulatorGlove L1
RRP: £29.00

This is a more versatile version of the inner glove from the ALS winter glove system. Assos have aded silicone grip to the palm and fingers to make it usable as a standalone glove, or alternatively as a base layer under any of the other new gloves.

Assos afterSnowBootie_S7
RRP: £140.00

Strangely named (not unusual in itself for Assos), but the "after snow" refers to melted slush and specifically it being sprayed onto your calves.

Assos rainBootie_S7
RRP: £90.00

Looking about as svelte and attractive as an overshoe can, the rainBootie_S7 is a all-season item for wet weather. Again Assos make no promise of waterproofing so it would appear that some sacrifice has been made for the sake of breathability.

Assos toeCover_S7
RRP: £35.00

Assos winterBootie_S7
RRP: £100.00

Assos fuguBootie

RRP: £129.00

A trio of feet warming items for varying temperatures, ordered above both by price and decreasing temperature range.

Assos stingerCap 607
stingerCap 607
RRP: £39.00

Assos roboCap 607

roboCap 607
RRP: £39.00

Assos fuguCap

RRP: £49.00

Assos faceMask_S7

RRP: £49.00

No less than four new winter hats. The fuguCap is new - a beefed up version of the roboCap and the three others are replacements for earlier versions of the same named items.

Assos rainCap S7
rainCap S7
RRP: £29.00

Assos have really gone to town with the clima.X range. This hat uses the same TRITON fabric as the other items and is available in three sizes. I'm not sure I would find a use for this - I don't ever recall getting a cold head from the rain, and the 50% of a helmet that isn't vents provides some protection. Having very short hair, I don't tend to get a waterlogged mane but this cap might help if that is likely to be an issue.

Assos earlyWinterSocks_S7
RRP: £17.00

Assos fuguSocks

RRP: £19.00

Assos fuguSpeer

RRP: £39.00

Socks are generally not very interesting and also not that well received as a Christmas gift, but if one company can change that it's Assos - by turning the humble foot warmer into a technical work of art. Strange as it is to broadcast an aesthetic appreciation for socks, I'd be immensely pleased to tear the wrapping of a pair of the fuguSpeers.

Assos LS.federation Suisse
LS.federation Suisse
RRP: £169.00

This is simply a long sleeve version of the federationJersey Swiss. Assos supply the Swiss national team and although not a carbon copy - it lacks the auxiliary sponsors - it's as close as commercially available.

Well, that's the lot. Quite an impressive array and certainly some gaps in the range filled. I'll be getting my hands on the new arm warmers and knee warmers or protectors as soon as I can, and some of the rain wear is very tempting too. I'll be sure to report back either on here or via Twitter (link on the right).

Friday, 11 June 2010

Assos Fables on Twitter

Site updates have been lacking of late, mostly down to lack of time - consumed both with other projects and with being out on the bike.

As an attempt to remedy this and also as a mechanism to provide news and links which would not merit a full post, I have created a Twitter account which I intend to update frequently. There's a widget over on the right, or you can follow with your client of choice. The username is, of course, AssosFables.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Assos BMC Official Pro Team Kit

Assos BMC Pro Team Jersey - Sleeve

Team Issue Only Jersey and Shorts

Following on from my review of the squadraMondo pack as a means to obtain a replica of the BMC kit it transpires that scouring eBay in the US yeilds a selection of official team kit including not only jerseys, but also shorts, long sleeve jerseys, 3/4 bibs and even 851 airJacks. Be aware that this is both new and used kit so check the item descriptions carefully.

Assos BMC Pro Team Jersey and Shorts

I bid on and won a short sleeve jersey and bib shorts, which arrived with me a week or so later. Due to the light weight of the items postage was very reasonable but the items did attract VAT so factor this in when doing any price conversion. Opening the box, the jersey was packed in the standard Assos zip bag, this time black in colour, with the shorts in just the wash bag. Unlike the retail S5 shorts no cleaner or creme was present. Both items show catalogue numbers and names "Jersey Team Club" and "T Bib Short Fi Team" respectively.

Assos BMC Pro Team Jersey - Packaging

Upon unzipping the bag the printing on the jersey is clearly different to the 2008 model, but there are a number of slight changes to the design too - the zip garage is notable by its absence, and as this was not intended for retail, there is no "limited collection" tag on the right hand side. One point certainly worth mentioning is that the jersey and shorts both display "made in Switzerland" on the labels, no doubt due to the limited production run, something also shared with the Lightweight edition clothing.

Assos BMC -  squadraMondo vs Pro Team Jersey - Front
The 2009 Jersey compared to last year's squadraMondo

Assos BMC Fi.Team Shorts - Made In Switzerland

The shorts have a silver gripper on the left leg and so appear to be the FI.13 S5s. This is unfortunately not the case and they are closest to the FI.Uno Logo, with the same pad and leg detail, albeit with the BMC rather than Assos emblem on the left leg. Strangely, the logo on the rear is the older and less durable S2 style transfer rather than the three dimensional rubbery plastic of the S5 shorts.

Assos Fi.Uno Logo vs Fi.Team Shorts - Left Leg
The team shorts compared to the regular Fi.Uno Logo S5

As with the squadraMondo review, the fit and performance of these items is identical to the models they are based on so once again there's little to add. As Assos is ceasing to sponsor BMC in order to concentrate on its own "équipe campionissimo" (more on that later) there's a finite supply of this gear so hasty procurement is recommended to those interested parties.

Photos - Click for full size or view more on flickr

Assos BMC Pro Team Jersey - Rear

Assos BMC Pro Team Jersey - Tags

Assos BMC Fi.Team Shorts - Leg Gripper

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Assos BMC squadraMondo Jersey Review

Assos BMC squadraMondo - Jersey Sleeve

Limited Collection Team Jersey, Cap and Socks

The problem with replica team kit is that it is almost always sold on looks rather than performance or quality. This creates a decision as to whether to show one's allegiance to a team, or enjoy the benefits of unbranded but higher quality items. The other caveat with team kit is that the colour schemes vary from a little bright to certifiably garish - a mutual agreement in style may not always be present.

As you'd expect from both Assos and BMC - two Swiss companies founded on both quality and beautiful design - things are a little different. For a start the recently formed BMC racing team's kit is minimal and attractive in its design, partly to the small number of sponsors but mostly because whomever was responsible excelled at their craft. Secondly the team is the envy of the entire peloton as they are fitted out with complete wardrobes of Assos gear. Most of this, like the airJack and intermediateEvo seen in various photos around the web are not available to the public but happily a version of the jersey based upon the 2008 season design is.

The squadraMondo pack had been on my radar since it's release although it wasn't until a few months ago that I had legitimate ownership rights, having built myself an immodestly awesome example of a 2009 SLC01 Pro Machine.

Getting hold of the pack in the UK proved impossible - no retailer stocks it, but fortunately a European connection was made and a package from Switzerland arrived at my workplace literally days later (thanks again Nicola!)

Assos BMC squadraMondo - Open Box

Like the sixDays, the squadraMondo pack consists of a jersey, cap and socks. The cap is a regular cloth model identical in material and construction to the sixDays items, albeit BMC branded. The socks are Assos standard summer skinweb items sized 39-42 in my medium pack so those like myself who take a medium jersey but have slightly larger than average feet may find the socks do not fit. That said, the skinweb is quite a stretchy design and the socks and cap are mere accessories however as the key focus of this package is the jersey.

Assos BMC squadraMondo - Ltd Collection

I had expected the jersey to be of the same fabric and cut as the Swiss Federation one I already owned, but upon receiving it I was delighted to discover it is based on the much superior SS.Uno. Aside from the obvious branding I did notice a few other differences - the label on the right side reads "Assos Limited Collection" and the zip garage is of a more flexible design and therefore easier to use. Such details suggest that the squadraMondo jersey is not merely an Uno that has gone through the printers but a specifically produced item.

Assos don't offer matching shorts but the FI.Uno S5 logo is very close, the only difference being an Assos rather than BMC logo on the left leg. Interestingly, the silver leg gripper on the shorts of some of the team riders suggests they are now using the FI.13 rather than the Uno.

As performance, fit and comfort are naturally identical to the Uno, there isn't really anything additional to report back on here. So in conclusion the squadraMondo is possibly the finest replica team jersey available, its attractive presentation makes it a fantastic gift for the BMC owner whose taste in apparel is as discerning as their choice of bicycle.

Attractive design and presentation, improved SS.Uno based jersey

Availability in the UK, no choice on sock sizing

Photos - Click for full size or view more on flickr

Assos BMC squadraMondo - Box

Assos BMC squadraMondo - Jersey Front

Assos BMC squadraMondo - Sponsor Yourself

Saturday, 5 September 2009

New Assos Products Spring / Summer 2010

Official information and images have begun to emerge about Assos' 2010 spring / summer product line. The information below is translated and edited from the original German.

SS.Mille Short Sleeve Jersey
Colours: Black Volkanga, Blue Calypso, Yellow Volt, Red Swiss, White Panther
RRP: €129.00

Assos SS.Mille White 2010

The Mille introduces a third type of jersey to go alongside the Uno and .13. The main difference is in the fit with the Mille being a looser fit than the existing two, intended for riders of a larger build or for long distance riding. Assos say those that prefer a tighter fit can still wear the Mille, albeit in a size smaller.

Four different materials are used in strategic areas. The front and arms are in Assos' brand new "Type 151" which promises less volume and better breathability for more optimum body temperature regulation. This fabric is claimed to actively vary how breathable it is depending on perspiration. The back of the jersey is similar to the SS.13. Plasma fabric and the "stabiliser panel" keep the jersey central on the body when the pockets are loaded.

The jersey features a revised zip garage (as seen on the BMC squadraMondo jersey) and the usual 3 pockets plus a zipped smaller one.

LS.Mille Long Sleeve Jersey
Colours: Black Volkanga, White Panther
RRP: €139.00

Assos LS.Mille White 2010

This is the first long sleeve summer jersey Assos has offered, intended for cooler days or riders who want their arms protected from the sun. Assos suggest that with a warm base layer the jersey may be worn in autumn and winter. As with the SS.Mille, the cut is looser but only black and white colours are offered. Pockets are the same as the SS.Mille.

federationJersey Swiss and Brazil
Colours: Swiss, Brazil
RRP: €109.00

Assos federationJersey Swiss 2010

Assos federationJersey Brazil 2010

Assos has been the official designer and partner of the Swiss Cycling Federation for 8 years and to celebrate the 2009 World Championships in Assos' home territory of Ticino, they have redesigned the Swiss and Brazil jerseys to celebrate. The Kazakhstan jersey has been discontinued.

Like the Mille, the new federation jerseys are constructed from the new Type 151 fabric (details above) although the fit is described as between the Mille and the SS.Uno - neither too tight nor too loose.

Mille summerSocks
Colours: White
RRP: €13.00 (regular) €14.00 (high)

Assos Mille High Summer Socks

Based on the skinweb summer socks but with a design to match the rest of the Mille range. Available in two lengths - regular, like the skinweb and high - like the classicSocks.

Mille Summer Cap
Colours: White
RRP: €13.00

Assos Mille Summer Cap 2010

Not just the existing cap redesigned to match the Mille range, but a completely new cap. Constructed from a cotton and spandex mix for elasticity with a perspiration catching headband on the interior.

Mille Drinks Bottle
Colours: White
RRP: €3.90

Assos Mille Drinks Bottle 2010

A 500ml bottle with the new Mille design. Appears to be a Tacx bottle as with the previous design.

Individual availability for Mumu and SixDays
From summer 2010 it will be possible to buy the individual items from the Mumu and SixDays packs. The design of the kit remains unchanged.