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:
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.
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.
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:
Replacing both the sJ.13 luftSchutz and the ClimaJet, hence the name, the sJ.climaSchutz is intended to protect from wind and light rain.
A sleeveless version of the sJ.climaSchutz, replacing the old ClimaJet vest.
To compliment the jackets on top there are three new bottoms:
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.
A bib-less version of the early winter LL.607_S5
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:
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.
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.
These replace the earlyWinter 851 and offer reduced volume and increased protection.
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.
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.
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.
Strangely named (not unusual in itself for Assos), but the "after snow" refers to melted slush and specifically it being sprayed onto your calves.
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.
A trio of feet warming items for varying temperatures, ordered above both by price and decreasing temperature range.
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 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.
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.
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).