Now, no shorts known to man will compensate for poor fitness, a poorly fitted bicycle, or a satanic saddle, but in absence of any such maladies, a good pair of shorts will become known by virtue of their lack of discomfort. Good shorts don’t pull, or rub, or chafe, stuff stays where it’s supposed to, and they don’t make you feel like a lycra kielbasa.
Of course there is always the time element. Some shorts seem OK on shorter rides but tend to cause problems after more extended seat time. Some shorts are great when you first get them, but then seem to get worse after a while. Some shorts are great while they last, but seem to wear out quickly, or stretch out to the point of not fitting properly.
I have invested considerable coin in shorts that have displayed all of these traits… education is expensive.
Some time ago I was struggling with saddle sores, and was of the opinion that the shorts I was wearing at the time were either contributing to the situation or at least not doing their fair share to fend off the offense. So, I consulted various forums on the interwebs, as well as those sites that do all manner of review type things. Invariably there would be a preponderance of recommendations for Assos.
Assos is expensive. Expensive even for cycling stuff, often times the most expensive for any given piece of clothing. But as anyone who has dealt with saddle sores will tell you, relief is priceless. So I bought a pair of Uno bib shorts in the hopes of finding some relief.
There aren’t any Assos dealers in my general vicinity, so trying them on wasn’t going to be possible. The sizing for Assos bibs is kind of wonky, they go by height more so than waist size, but the telephone help person assured me that they ran true to the size chart, so I went with that.
The fit of my newly acquired bibs was excellent. As has been discussed in many circles, the fit of the bibs is best when in the riding position, as it should be. It should be noted that they feel a bit ‘short’ when just standing upright.
The material is very stretchy and doesn’t feel overly compressive. The bib straps are nice and wide, and the way they are connected to the shorts lends its self to maintaining their position. The ‘chamois’ appears to be a two piece affair with the padding underneath a separate light blue fleece kind of material. The padding is minimal, but I’ve never felt as though it was lacking.
One thing that seemed strange for a pair of bib shorts occupying this price range is the panel seams, they aren’t flat. They haven’t caused me any discomfort, but I haven’t had any shorts that didn’t have flat seams for quite a while now.
Overall, the fit of these bib shorts are among the best that I have experienced. I was able to clear up my saddle sore issue in short order and it hasn’t reappeared since I’ve been wearing Assos bibs. YMMV, the Assos bibs may or may not be the ticket for you, everyone is different.
I have crashed wearing the same pair of Assos bib shorts not once but twice and can attest to their crash worthiness. I was amazed, after the first crash there was only minor scuffing. The second crash completely shredded a jersey from another manufacturer. The Assos bibs survived with only a hole in the hip area smaller than a dime.
I read somewhere that Assos offer a repair service, so I decided to send mine off. You have to send them to Switzerland, the whole process took about three weeks and as it happened they couldn’t repair mine. They did however offer to sell me a new pair for $60 which seems more than fair given that the damage was crash related.
The crash worthiness that these bibs have exhibited, and their resistance to wear, speak to the quality of the product, and foretell a long life. From a cost per hour use standpoint, these bibs are more of a bargain than their price would indicate.
That Assos will effect repairs if possible, and sell replacements at greatly reduced price if not, is amazing to me. What is equally amazing is that this repair/replacement policy doesn’t seem to be common knowledge.
I have worn the same two pair of Uno bibs over the past two years, and their durability is outstanding. These two pair of bibs have been worn and washed, 2-3 times a week, every week, for the last two years, and are still in use today.
Comfort has always been the basis of Assos bib short recommendations, and rightly so. Had I known how durable they are I might not have balked at the price for so long…
*Update 12 Jul 2012… I have had to retire these bibs, not because they’re worn out or in any way no longer serviceable, but because I’ve lost so much weight that they’re now too big… For the record, the first pair were purchased on 12 May 2010, the second on 3 Aug 2010 when I had to send the first pair off to be repaired. The first pair were replaced rather than repaired, as described in the article, on 10 Aug 2010…