Despite many dedicated fans, there are many reasons to laugh at or about Assos.
The hideous, puerile graphics. I honestly don’t think there is such a thing as a cool cycling kit in the same way that there is no such thing as a cool golf kit. (The test being whether any sane, self-respecting non-practitioner would want to be spotted wearing any of the stuff in public. Cyclists and golfers are like fetishist groups that meet up at conventions dressed up as furry animals and romp amongst fellow fetishists whilst praising each other’s outfits, something others simply cannot appreciate.) However, there is no need to make matters worse with unrestrained use of ghastly designs: they are fine on comic-book superheros but not on mere mortals unless attending a fancy dress party.
The ridiculous, supremely geeky product names. Whatever they are smoking, it can’t be good.
The tag line ‘Sponsor Yourself’ that leaves you feeling cold and empty or thinking, in contemporary vernacular, WTF?
(Hopefully, the above will slowly change for the better after the new majority owner-manager has had a chance to implement bits of his strategy.)
When they launched in late 2013 the kuKuPenthouse, a new men’s bib shorts pad design with a ‘nest’ in the front for your lunch box, I laughed. I just had to. I know that I wasn’t alone.
After wearing a pair of their T.Cento_S7 bib shorts with a kuKuPenthouse pad for long rides, including a 198km ride last weekend, I am no longer laughing.
The proprietary pad, which is made by CyTech exclusively for Assos, is simply amazing. Not only does the nest make a noticeable difference, the whole pad is better than anything else I’ve tried, including a range-topping off-the-peg pad from Elastic Interface (CyTech). Actually, everything about the Cento is outstanding, and the aesthetically criminal graphics are consigned to the rear of the bib, safely hidden from public view by one’s jersey. They are the most comfortable bib shorts I’ve ever worn. By a large margin.
By the way, when I was chatting with a shop floor staff at a London bike shop recently, he told me that Assos make their own pads. (Admittedly, it is possible that I completely misunderstood him since I was having a very difficult time understanding his heavy Scotch accent. It was in the morning, so I was still sober.) Assuming that I understood him correctly and if anyone else holds the same belief, his statement is incorrect. (I wasn’t going to argue with him since I wasn’t certain I did and would understand him.) CyTech was incorporated because Assos commissioned them to make synthetic chamois pads for Assos shorts many moons ago. The De Marchi family firm still supply Assos their pads. Regardless, the Scotsman got me thinking about Assos, and a couple of weeks later I picked up a pair locally. (Yes, the sale should have gone to him, but I’m not in London very frequently…)
If I were to pick nits, then it would be the silicone gripper bits on the hems. I am not sensitive to silicone, but some people are. Also, there are other gripper constructions that eliminate the need for little strips of silicone, so I think it’s a bit quaint to be still using those little strips. However, they don’t bother my skin, so it’s not an issue for me. Also, to be fair, plenty of other brands who claim technical and technological blah-di-blah use silicone strips on their so-called ‘most advanced’ bib shorts, so Assos are certainly not the only sinners.
The hem length is a matter of personal preference, so those who prefer longer hems may not find the Cento to their liking. For me, the length is almost exactly the way I like it.
Also, as Assos say, the fabric is of a more forgiving type, so those who prefer a high level of compression may find Cento to be a bit lacking. For me, the compression level is perfect, not too tight, not too forgiving.
Like I said, I’m not laughing any more. The Assos T.Cento_S7 bib shorts are, as Jane Austen once said, the dog’s bollocks.