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Fancy a KuKu Penthouse? Assos releases new S7 shorts line

  • By Caley Fretz
  • Published Sep. 10, 2013

While most of the cycling industry releases clothing with each season, Assos sends its shorts to university. Then grad school.

The company’s new S7 shorts line has been in development for six years, resulting in what it proudly calls the most comfortable, technically advanced shorts ever.

The Swiss company officially announced its new S7 lineup on Monday, a collection of four bib shorts ranging from $200 to an outlandish $519.

The new line is split into four models: T.neoPro, T.équipe, T.cento, and T.campionissimo, in order of rising cost. With rising prices come additional features, but the line isn’t laid out quite as linearly as it seems: each short is targeted at a specific rider type, with changes to fit and chamois placement to best match the expected riding position and body type. Assos is quick to point out that the hyper-expensive T.campionissimo may not actually be the most comfortable for every rider.

The list of features and fabrics on all four shorts spreads into multiple pages, so we’ll focus on the big changes and the features that truly seem to make a difference to ride comfort.

T.neoPro – $199

There is no such thing as a cheap Assos short, and that’s by design. The company hand-sews all its shorts in Europe, mostly in Bulgaria, using European-sourced fabrics, and even the lowest-tier neoPro short holds more technical features than many pricier shorts from other brands. So while the neoPro may be the least expensive in the new S7 line, it still sits on par with some of the best shorts in the industry.

Assos describes the neoPro as a “regular fit” short, designed to sit between racing fit and comfort fit (read: skinny folks and less skinny folks). Like all the shorts in the S7 range, the new neoPro is built out of fewer panels than the old S5 shorts thanks to new fabrics and a pattern that is borrowed from the skinsuits developed for the 2012 Olympics. The fabric is more compressive, more abrasion resistant, more elastic, lighter, and run-proof. The reduction in seams improves both durability and comfort, Assos says.

But the real improvements in the S7 line come from the new chamois technology. Like every other short in the line, the neoPro gets a “waffled” chamois, which helps improve breathability and reduces weight. But the big change is a feature Assos calls the Golden Gate.

Essentially, the front and back of the chamois is sewn into the shorts while the middle, the part that most of your weight is on, floats freely across the outer short material. This reduces what Assos calls “micro movements,” reducing friction on the body.

T.equipe — $270

The T.équipe is the racing short, and the one that we had a chance to ride in outside Lugano during the S7 launch last week. The fit is leaner, both in the legs and in the lower torso. There’s no room for a bit of extra lunch muscle, as our own Lennard Zinn is fond of calling it.

The T.équipe uses two extra panels up front, allowing Assos to pull the front chamois seams out to the side further than any short we’ve seen. The seam placement eliminates bunching in areas where bunching is very bad, and the seams themselves are out of the way so they can’t chafe, either.

The chamois uses the same Golden Gate technology as the neoPro, but is optimized for a more aggressive riding position. That means it’s a bit thinner and narrower up front.

Speaking of up front, Assos did something clever in that region: by cutting a triangular wedge out of the front of the chamois and then sewing the wings back together, the company created a bit of a box at the front of the chamois. For lack of a better descriptor, it cups quite well.

The addition of cold black technology, which allows black fabrics to behave more like white ones in thermal regulation, begins with the équipe and continues up the line.

The équipe gets a small band of purple on the left leg, and the little Assos flag that sticks out of the back on all the brand’s shorts is purple as well. The purple color replaces the blue that Assos has been known for over the past few years.

I’ve spent a week now riding in the équipe shorts, and they are unquestionably comfortable. The seam placement is brilliant. Chaffing is nonexistent. I can’t say that I feel the Golden Gate at work, but there’s never been any discomfort down there, so it certainly isn’t hurting.

The fabrics are nicely compressive, more so than on the S5 series shorts. The bib straps, too, are nicer than before; soft and wide, and with a handy little band near the collarbone that serves to both keep the strap spread wide and provide a spot to hang your glasses during a long climb.

I can’t speak to durability yet, of course, but the T.équipe gets two big thumbs up for comfort.

T.cento — $370

The cento model is Assos’ new “comfort fit” short, replacing the Mille. Assos calls it a long-distance short, featuring a more relaxed cut. But the cut is less extreme than the old Mille, designed with less focus solely on larger riders. The same person should be able to ride comfortably in all four models, Assos says.

Fabrics in the short’s legs and bibs are mostly the same as those used on the équipe, with the exception of a mesh-like front panel that is more forgiving of the aforementioned lunch muscle.

Where the cento differentiates from the équipe is in its chamois. Specifically, it has a Kuku Penthouse.

Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is.

Assos cut a square out of the three-layer chamois cover near the front of the pad, filling it with a single, soft layer of fabric. It is quite literally a little penthouse for your cuckoo.

The cento also gets an unfortunately named feature called the “Rear Terminal.” It is essentially an extra layer sewn in just above the back of the chamois, intended to improve durability in that region.

The cento gets a silver band on the left leg and a silver flag on the butt.

T.campionissimo — $519

The campionissimo is Assos’ new top-of-the-line model, with a price to match. The fit is more similar to the équipe, but the similarities to the other three shorts end there.

The campionissmo gets its own fabrics and its own chamois shape. It’s lighter, more compressive, faster drying, cooler, and has gold highlights on the leg band and Assos logo buttons. They are unapologetically extravagant.

The fabric used provides asymmetric compression, “more around than up and down,” Assos explained, providing 33 percent more compression than the S5 shorts. The fabric is woven, rather than a run-proof knit, a highly unusual choice in cycling gear. It means abrasion resistance suffers, but Assos can more finely tune compression, stretch, and elasticity in various areas.

The chamois is a hybrid of the cento and the équipe pads, utilizing the cento’s Penthouse and the équipe’s more aggressive shape. Instead of sewing the foam pads to a chamois cover sheet, as with the other three shorts in this range, the foam pads are sewn directly to the short’s fabric. So there’s nothing between the foam pads and chamois cover sheet; it floats freely. The idea is to take the Golden Gate concept of removing micro movements a step further.

Editor’s Note: Assos’ launch event coincided with the annual Eurobike tradeshow in Germany. The company provided two nights’ accommodation and meals, as well as a shuttle from Friedrichshaffen, Germany, to Lugano, Switzerland, for attending members of the media. VeloNews covered all other expenses.

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Caley Fretz

Caley Fretz

Tech Editor Caley Fretz can usually be found chasing races along the backroads of Europe or testing bikes and gear in the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado. If you can't find him there, check the coffee shop across from VN World Headquarters.

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