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.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

New 2010 Assos Swiss Federation and Mille Jerseys

Assos 2010 Suisse Jersey

Assos are using their stand at the Eurobike 2009 show to unveil some of the new 2010 product range. First up is a redesigned Swiss Federation jersey which is reported to be a different material to the current version. I'd expect this to be the "Plasma" of the SS.Uno and 13 jerseys. The design has also been reworked, looking a little like the custom BMC/Swiss National Championship sported by Markus Zberg. It's certainly much more modern than the existing one and something that I'll be handing over the funds for as soon as I can.

The next items on display were two more jerseys, this time forming part of the new "Mille" range, intended, like the shorts of the same name, for longer rides and therefore a bit looser fitting than the racier cut jerseys. There will be both long sleeve and short sleeve available and the colours appear more subtle and less saturated than previous offerings. The long sleeve looks particularly interesting as this is something Assos don't currently offer, with the jacket/jersey hybrid intermediateEvo being the closest.

Finally, the base layer range will be expanding with new items for very cold days, incorporating wind blocking and micro fleece materials, as well as super lightweight items for the hottest weather.

Pricing for the Mille jerseys and new base layers is said to be "aggressive", so hopefully this is a reduction in profit margin, or reduced production costs and not a loss in quality.

No release information is currently available but given that Assos traditionally release items at the start of the appropriate season it looks like it may be spring before these are in stores. There doesn't appear to be any new autumn or winter products but as this news was compiled from various sources on the web it may be that they have been overlooked or simply not reported due to time or space constraints.

Images courtesy of Velonews and

Assos Mille Short Sleeve Jersey - Front

Assos Mille Short Sleeve Jersey - Rear

Assos Mille Long Sleeve Jersey

Saturday, 29 August 2009

SS.13 vs SS.Uno Jersey Comparison

Summer Jerseys

Even after studying photographs in detail and comparing specification tables it's sometimes unclear exactly why there is a price chasm between two apparantly very similar items. Certainly careful examination would answer most queries but in this age of online purchasing that isn't always possible.

What would be genuinely useful is for someone who owned both items to photograph and describe the difference in order that one might then make an informed decision. This is the first article in a series designed to do exactly this.

Assos' range of summer jerseys consists of three models. Discounting the Superlight sleeveless leaves the two here: the SS.Uno and the SS.13.

Assos SS.13 - Box

Assos SS.Uno - Packaging

When confronted with the physical items it is immediately obvious which of the two jerseys is the range topper. The Uno is presented in Assos' oft-used windowed zip bag, this time white in colour, and the 13 making its value clear by way of a shining silver box with tissue paper insert. Examining them shows a couple of similarities - both models meet what I consider to be the essential requirements for a jersey - a full length zip, and both have the sometimes-a-fiddle zip garage with the familiar "Sponsor yourself" suggestion.

Fabric wise, both jerseys feature Assos' Plasma material, but in difference places. The majority of the Uno is constructed from this, with a stretchier spandex like textile on the sleeves and shoulders. The 13 uses Plasma on the sides and back, but the rest is s similar spandex which is slightly more matt in finish and supremely comfortable. In my experience the materials of both jerseys are noticeably more resistant to odours than more traditional fibres used in other jerseys.

Assos SS.13 - Front

Assos SS.Uno - Front

Sizing is a major difference. The 13 in a large is the same as the Uno in a medium. Assos describe the 13 as having a closer fit, but for the equivilant size it's a great deal tighter. I personally find the Uno to be a perfect fit in medium and therefore went for the 13 in large. The shape is different too - the collar is lower cut on the 13, making it more suitable for warmer days, and the 3D Senso Mesh frame running down the back helps maintain the jersey's position on the body when the pockets are loaded.

Assos SS.13 - Rear Pockets

Assos SS.Uno - Rear Pockets

At the rear of the jersey the Uno has the standard three pockets plus an additional smaller zipped one, and the 13 has five, albeit not as wide or deep. The zipped pocket on the 13 is in the center rather than on the right hand side as on the Uno. Both jerseys have a hole for a radio cable (if you're a pro) or iPod headphones (if your not). Two of the pockets on the 13 are on each side of the jersey and I found these ideal for stashing the plastic cleat covers for my Speedplays.

A bonus on the 13 is that the centre pocket is black, both outside and in, meaning a grubby tube or multitool can be stashed without staining the fabric. Annoyingly though the depth of the pockets is an inch or so less than the Uno, meaning anything moderately large like a folded tub or rain jacket sticks out of the top.

Assos SS.13 - Gripper

Assos SS.Uno - Gripper

Turning to the inside, the gripper elastic at the rear on the 13 has tacky logos (in touch, not quality) and silver detailing, traits common to Assos' other "13" labelled items, whereas the Uno has elastic. Care is required as this can stretch in the wash.

In conclusion, both jerseys are perfectly suited to all round use but the lower collar and lass capacious pockets of the 13 makes it more tailored towards warmer days when one is travelling lighter.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

What's in the Fabled Wardrobe?

If you're a regular reader, or indeed a first time visitor, you may be wondering how I choose which items to review, and also if I'm reviewing each item as I buy it or if I have a repository of garments to pick and choose from.

The answer is I try to pick something relevant to the climatic situation in the UK (where I am based). In the case of the recent sJ.13 I reviewed this as soon as I received it, due to the jacket being new to the range, but other items have been cherry picked and eulogised from my existing collection, which at the time of writing stands thus:

The Wardrobe - June 2009
Assos Collection 10/06/2009

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Assos sj.13 LuftSchutz Review

Assos sJ.13 LuftSchutz - Hybro V2 logo

Windproof Shell Jacket

The sJ.13 first appeared as a teasing image in Assos' catalogue last Autumn, before information and photos gradually began to materialise on European sites. It only appeared on Assos' own site in early February and finally debuted in UK stores a few weeks ago. Despite the similarly named SS.13 jersey leading with a capital, the LuftShutz begins with a lowecase "s". Being fairly sure of the Swiss precision in which these items are named, I am sure there is a reason for this, but we are left to speculate - or ignore and move on to the jacket itself.

Described by Assos as a "super compact, high performance windbreaker & thermo insulator" it is categorically unintended as a rain jacket although has some degree of waterproofing to it, an extremely useful facet when riding in the UK.

Being a new item and therefore nowhere having existing stocks, there didn't seem to be a way to escape the recent price increases seen across the whole cycling spectrum, but even so Ribble offered the jacket cheaper than anywhere else I could find, and with a 15% May Day sale on it represented a substantial saving over the RRP. Given my apparel persuasion for the shade of driven snow, I pushed 'add to cart' next to the white option. My belief is that a few extra minutes with the stain removal soap stick is worth it for the PRO look.

Upon opening the box one is greeted with a package around the size of a couple of stacked CD albums:

Assos sJ.13 LuftSchutz - folded

What at first appears to be a carry pouch reveals itself as the jacket's pocket turned inside out. In my haste I paid no attention but I'd advise unfolding it slowly in order to obtain some comprehension as to how to replicate the folds and therefore repack it to the smallest possible bulk.

On this label attached to the inside-yet-sometimes-the-outside there is a whole user manual's worth of information - a description as to the jacket's function, the usual care instructions and the logo for the new HYBROv2 material. This logo is also sewn to the inside, in the same omnipresent location as other Assos garments.

The construction of the sJ.13 is excellent. The black sections are made from a stretchier material, this keeps the cuffs wind tight and allows the jacket to form a better fit around the body, with no loose bits and it feels soft enough to wear over bare arms without discomfort. The elastic waistband is of the same design as the new S5 series shorts - with soft gripping dots rather than the usual strips as on the winter jackets. The mesh down the sides of the jacket and under the arms is similar to that seen on the climaJet and photos show the Easy Entry System silver tab by the zip, although this was not present on mine.

Last weekend I set of for my Saturday afternoon ride and headed for the hills with the weather bordering on rain. I had hoped this would give me a chance to see how water resistant this not-water resistant jacket was. Several hours later and I was in the usual position of cursing the British weather but perversely in this instance because it was too warm and too dry. Even when descending I wasn't sufficiently cold enough to put the jacket to use.

This morning I set out for the club run and with the weather looking iffy and around 10˚c, I stuffed the sJ.13 into my jersey pocket and sure enough after an hour or so the rain came - just a few spots at first. At this point I had on my intermediateEvo and arm warmers so I removed the warmers and donned the sJ.13. Temperature wise I was perfectly comfortable, the jacket breathing well and keeping me dry. After a few miles the heavens really opened and the water soaked though, although not as much as I had expected and importantly I was still warm.

Upon returning home the jacket went straight in the wash, but it took a second wash and a fair amount of time with a Vanish stick to get it back to white. I think if you're planning to make the sJ.13 work part time as a rain jacket in UK conditions, then the black is a very wise idea.

Great fit, lightweight, effective, comfortable

White stains easily, possibly of limited use

Photos - Click for full size or view more on flickr

Assos sJ.13 LuftSchutz - open box

Assos sJ.13 LuftSchutz - front

Assos sJ.13 LuftSchutz - back

Friday, 8 May 2009

Assos elementZero Review

Assos elementZero - collar detail

Early Winter Sleeveless Shell / Gilet

If there's one item of clothing a cyclist must own in addition to the staple shorts and jersey, it's a gilet. Easily the most versatile piece of apparel and for myself at least, the most used. The beauty of a gilet is that it keeps warm the body parts that need warmth and allows cooling to those that require cooling. A cycling specific gilet is a very tailored design that does everything up front and virtually nothing behind. That is to say the front is almost always a windproof material with a high collar and the back is only really there to keep the front in place. Mesh or other lightweight fabric is all that is required. As all the wind is coming from the front due to the cyclist's direction there is no need for the back to provide any protection.

The elementZero takes this principal and expands on it. The front is mostly Airblock 799, the thinner, yet almost as functional weight of the two Airblock fabrics. The back has a mesh panel, the collar a thick foam padding, identical to that of the winter Fugu uber-jacket, and cut low at the back and high at the front so close fitting when in the riding position. The rest of the material is X-Zero a water-repellant, breathable textile.

My elementZero has accompanied me on every ride since it's acquisition. Used as an extra layer on sub-zero winter excursions to a temporary wind chill shield when descending after a sweaty climb it packs small enough to stuff in a jersey pocket and when paired with arm warmers makes an almost-a-jacket combination that can be donned or removed in parts to suit the current conditions.

Although not claimed to do so, the Airblock material is more water resistant than expected and having got caught out a number of times the elementZero has kept me warm and sheltered for the 30 minutes ride from work to home. I can't comment on the effectiveness of the back panel's fold down flap, as I always wear waterproof Gore shorts when commuting.

I really can't fault the elementZero. It may be a bit more substantial around the collar and therefore bulkier than some other manufacturer's offerings, but this is a small price to pay for the extra warmth. Whilst on the subject of price, much debate is made over the cost of Assos products. The elementZero is no different, when paying this price for a gilet you expect performance to match and I can honestly say it does not disappoint. Swiss perfection supplied in a stylish, grey zipped bag.

Windproof, quite water resistant, warm, great fit, very comfortable collar


Photos - Click for full size or view more on flickr

Assos elementZero - front, unzipped

Assos elementZero - back

Assos elementZero - flap open

Assos intermediateEvo Review

Assos intermediateEvo - tags

Early Fall Jersey

On first glance at the range of Assos garments one could be forgiven for thinking that no-one could possibly make use of so many similar items. Certainly it is possible to cycle in most conditions with only a limited selection of clothing, but for maximum enjoyment and performance there's no substitute for having an outfit perfect for any given meteorological or climatic situation.

After a series of judicious, not to say fiscally taxing, purchases this past winter I am in no need of substitution, and as Winter has morphed to spring and now hints at Summer, the upper half of my outfit has thinned out from the heavyweight air blocking fleece of the airJack 851 to the lighter elementOne and now to the item I'm reviewing here - the intermediateEvo, an item Assos list as a jacket but is really closer to a long sleeve jersey, and so I will be describing it as such.

Rather than just lengthen the sleeves of a standard jersey and perhaps use material a touch thicker, Assos have put a bit more thought in and arrived at the sensible conclusion that if it's cold enough to merit long sleeves, then chances are that you're probably going to need a bit of wind protection too. To this end the front of the jersey is the thinner of Assos' two Airblock fabrics - 799. This lacks the fleecy backing of the winter-weight 851, so is lighter but only marginally less effective. The rest of the material is the same Micro Cell used on the short sleeve jerseys in the range (except for the SS.Uno and SS.13, which use the newer Plasma fabric).

The standard features are all present and correct - three sizeable rear pockets, plus an ever useful smaller, zipped pocket ideal for keys, money and cards - an addition often annoyingly omitted by other manufacturers.

Fit is up to the usual spot-on AEPD standards - tight around the chest when stood up, but in position on the bike just right, with no bagginess or ruffling of the front. My only real criticism here is the sleeves seem unusually long for the size, my medium being an inch or so lengthier in this area than the same size elementOne. My jersey featured the silver zip garage seen sporadically on other Assos garments, I have not yet worked out what the pattern is to whether an item will have this or not. My airJack and elementOne are both missing it, yet photos on Assos' site clearly show the garage on both jackets. I am unsure if it is something that has been added since mine were produced, or removed since the photos were taken. Either way, this doesn't seem to serve any purpose except to make zipping and unzipping the jersey trickier than it needs to be. Still, it can be folded out of the way if need be.

As with most outer layers, the usable temperature range can be extended by varying the thickness of base layer worn. I started off wearing the intermediateEvo around six weeks ago with the earlyFall base layer underneath. This was fine for the 8-12˚c range, and now the mercury has risen to between 12 and 18 the short sleeve summer layer is more appropriate.

Performance of the jersey is excellent, with the Airblock providing noticeable wind protection without being too stuffy. The Micro Cell fabric is comfortable and just the right weight yet, although hardly a criticism, is a little too similar to other manufacturer's material and doesn't score high on the Assos tech scale. A new version of the intermediateEvo with the super smooth and stretchy Plasma from the SS jerseys would be fantastic.

Excellent wind protection, very good fit

Sleeves seem excessively long, zip garage is fiddly

Photos - Click for full size or view more on flickr

Assos intermediateEvo - front

Assos intermediateEvo - back

Assos intermediateEvo - packaging

Friday, 10 April 2009

Assos earlyFallInteractive Base Layer Review

Assos Early Fall Base Layer - tag

Spring / Fall Base Layer

Offering an array of no less than seven base layers suitable for temperature ranges 0 to 39˚c the earlyFallInteractive is the lightest weight long sleeve layer and the newest addition to the collection. The stated operating range of this layer is 12-18˚c, although like all Assos ALS garments, this is a guideline and varies depending on one's own internal thermostat.

The material is stretchy and exceptionally comfortable, the fit skin tight. My size large fits me as well as my normal medium in Assos tops do, which suggests that it should be even close in fit - I would stick to your regular size rather than go up one. Available in black and white I could find no retailer offering the latter but this was not an issue as the black fitted my theory that cycle clothing intended to keep you warm should be black, and those to keep you cool should be white. I'll freely admit that this is of no consequence when the item in question is concealed under a jacket.

Having used this layer over winter and now spring, I've found it perfect from 6 to 15˚c when coupled with a jacket ranging from the winter staple airBlock 851 to the intermediateEvo which is seeing more regular use now the temperatures are climbing above 10˚c. Functionally it performs it's intended task exceptionally well - drawing moisture from the skin to preserve bodily warmth and enabling it to dry.

Comfortable, effective, looks great


Photos - Click for full size or view more on flickr

Assos Early Fall Base Layer

Assos Early Fall Base Layer - label