It's that time of year for covering up the skin to keep warm on chilly rides, and a really good choice for autumn and early winter are three-quarter-length shorts. These Assos Mille GT Spring/Fall Knickers are a really good example of the genre, with a superb fit, warmth and comfort that makes cycling through inclement weather a breeze.
- Pros: Comfortable, warm, fit,
- Cons: Not as versatile as bibs and knee warmers
The Mille GT knickers (or three-quarter-lengths – 3/4s – as we prefer to call them around these parts) are based on the bib shorts of the same name, but the fabric extends to below the knee to provide the right protection when it's too warm for tights but too cold for shorts.
I know 3/4s aren't for everyone, some people can't see the point of the halfway house approach, but I know many who favour them over shorts and knee warmers, or even full-length tights unless it's perishingly cold. Personally, I often go straight to leg warmers, such is the unpredictability of our weather, but I've found a new love for 3/4s. Their use can also be extended into three-season wear too, for cooler summer rides.
Assos has long been known for its premium prices, but the Mille GT range is aimed at providing a lower entry point into its clothing. The price is still reassuringly high, though you can pay a lot more, but you're getting a lot of experience and top quality design here. Still, they need to deliver.
And that they do. Comfort, fit and warmth are all first class. In fact, I found the comfort exceptional. Pulling them on really is a luxurious experience, the soft lining feels lovely next to the skin. They feel like they were custom-designed for me.
The fit is perfect, snug everywhere it needs to be but not taut where it doesn't want to be. It's a slightly compressive fit, but more relaxed than Assos racing attire.
Warmth is ideal for current temperatures, though they can deal with sunnier weather too. They're made from two weights of insulated fabrics. RX Heavy does the heavy lifting when it comes to insulation and is used on the front panels, with added water-repellency to protect in showers, while the back is made from RX Light, which helps warm air escape and adds extra stretch for fit and comfort.
The shaped panels and articulated legs ensure the fabric sits very nicely over the knee. There's no restriction when pedalling, no bunching of material, and after a few miles, they fade away. I found it a lot more comfortable than wearing knee warmers with shorts, or the added weight of full-length tights.
The length has been well judged: nicely below the knee to avoid irritation in this area when pedalling, but not so low that you have that weird tiny gap between them and socks. Reflective details have been added to the back of the legs to help you stand out on gloomy training rides or commutes.
Saddle comfort comes from the Assos Mille S7 Evo padded insert. It features a plush 8mm of memory foam with a 3D waffle perforated foam and 'goldenGate', which involves the sides of the pad being detached from the shorts for extra freedom of movement.
It sounds like a complex design but it's stupendously comfortable. The chamois is a big part of the Assos appeal, and – silly names aside – this one delivers comfort for mile after mile. It doesn't feel bulky and stays dry on warmer rides. The pads used to be pink, but they're now black which is a bit more practical.
Wide stretchy bib straps converge into a mesh back panel, and the front of the shorts comes up a little higher than some but still provides easy comfort breaks.
These are great shorts with superb comfort, fit and warmth. They are quite pricey, though, and they lack the versatility of shorts and knee/leg warmer combo and the protection offered by full-length tights. Their window of use during autumn and spring could be long or short depending on the variables of the UK weather, but when the weather window is right, nothing quite beats them.
Durability should be good too. I've got a 10-year-old pair of Assos 3/4s I still wear when the weather suits, which is a good innings. That's good, because they don't come cheap.
There aren't many we've reviewed to compare them with, perhaps showing how out of favour 3/4-length shorts are at the moment, but they are twice the price of the Primal Dawn Men's Bib Knickers, which got a brilliant review last year.
They're also £20 more than Castelli's Sorpassa 2 3/4 bib tights.
Superb fit, comfort and warmth for three-season cycling
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Assos Mille GT Spring/Fall Knickers
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Assos says: "Ideal for those cool fall and spring rides where added knee coverage and a touch of insulation make all the difference, the MILLE GT Spring/Fall Knickers are constructed with a blend of ultrasoft and insulating fabrics, paired with our evolved MILLE GT insert. To make a knicker that would meet the demands of these variable conditions, we added two custom insulated textiles to the design. RX Heavy makes up the majority of the paneling-a beefed-up version of our workhorse RX-featuring an ECO water-repellent treatment for further protection from light precipitation. This fabric ensures the fronts of your legs stay shielded from biting winds and cold air, while the backs of the legs are made up of RX Light for added breathability in this high-flex zone. The fit of the MILLE GT Knickers falls into our regularFit category, which means they're lightly compressive where they need to be, but not as tight as our racingFit apparel. The fabric panels flex with each pedal stroke, as they're both pre-shaped and sewn to fully wrap and support the upper leg muscles, knees, and calves while in motion. The insert is our MILLE EVO, featuring 8mm of plush memory foam for dependable comfort on every ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
RX Heavy: A brushed warp-knit fabric developed to provide exceptional comfort, wick moisture, add high levels of insulation, and remain extremely flexible. 290g/m2, ECO water-repellent, and odorControl.
RX Light: Lightweight, asymmetrical-stretch warp-knit fabric developed to provide light insulation and boost comfort in high-flex areas. 205g/m2, ECO water-repellent, and odorControl.
MILLE S7 EVO: The MILLE elastic interface insert, evolved. New black colorway, and our proven 8mm of memory foam, this insert is nestled at the intersection between comfort and performance.
3D waffle: A patented, three-layer perforated foam that increases breathability and eliminates excess weight.
goldenGate: A patented technology that interrupts the stitching along both of the insert's side panels, allowing a more three-dimensional freedom of movement in this sensitive, rotational area.
Y7 Frame Carrier Bib Tech: Wide, flexible bib straps converge at the upper back in a Y-shape design, resulting in a flat, stable structure that disappears between the shoulder blades.
Stabilizator V3: Dorsal stabilizer in a solid mesh with limited vertical stretch. Includes MILLE GT line graphics and climaCode.
Reflective Accents: Small strips placed on the backs of the legs for added visibility.
regularFit: Optimized for total comfort in the riding position, with a more relaxed cut than our second-skin racingFit.
They're very well made.
They deliver superb performance for the weather they are designed to excel in.
So far has been very good, and if my 10-year-old pair are anything to go by, they should last a very long time.
I found the size medium to offer a perfect fit.
Sizing is as claimed, spot on.
They don't weigh much.
They're not cheap shorts by any measure, and you can certainly pay less, but the performance goes a long way to justifying it.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to look after.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Stave off the chill when it's not cold enough for tights but too cold for shorts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit, comfort and warmth. Top-quality padded insert too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Just the price and lack of versatility compared to bib shorts and warmers.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Excellent performance, but a rather high price tag.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.