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Assos Equipe RSR Bib Shorts S9 Targa



Exceptionally comfortable, light and expensive bibs for WorldTour-level performance
Light weight
Everything stays in place
Very athletic fit won't suit all body shapes

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Assos Equipe RSR S9 Targa bib shorts are very comfortable and very light. The main body material is different from basically any other cycle clothing I've used, but provides good compression and a race-ready fit. The chamois is exceptional, the bib straps are wide and flat, and the price is very high.

The RSR S9s are claimed to be the fastest shorts that Assos makes, and this new Targa version has been redesigned to further reduce weight. They now weigh 166g for a size medium, which does make them a fair whack lighter than other top-of-the-range shorts. The MAAP Pro bibs we've just reviewed are 213g, for example, a whole 22 per cent heavier.

Now, not many people go and buy a new set of (very expensive) bibs just because they're light, but this is a bit of a giveaway that they're a bit different from other shorts. The material, for starters, feels more like an Olympian's swimming jammers than cycling clothing; the easiest way to describe it is that it rustles, though thankfully not while riding along. Assos calls it 'type.701kompressor' fabric and it's a 68% polyamide, 26% elastane and 6% polyester mix. It's really rather compressive, too, so expect a tight and performance-focused fit.

2022 Assos EQUIPE RSR Bib Shorts S9 TARGA - legs back.jpg

Assos says the fabric is abrasion resistant, blocks UV rays (UPF50+), and resists odours while actively cooling. I've been wearing the bibs on a recent warm weather training camp and did indeed find the compressive support comfortable for long days in the saddle. I didn't find them unnecessarily warm, which was a worry when I first saw the fabric, but did find that they were quite susceptible to getting white marks from salt when I did start sweating heavily.

> Cycling sun protection: 5 easy ways to look after your skin

Areas around the crotch get a more breathable and less compressive 'Ossidia' fabric, and this combined with the vented chamois that we'll look at in a minute – it has holes in each layer – help the shorts to dry quickly and reduce clamminess.

The S9 Targas' 'aeroFit' is more aggressive than the 'racingFit' that you'll find on the Equipe RS line, such as the Spring/Fall bibs that Liam tested a few years ago, and that in turn is more aggressive than the 'regularFit' you'll find on the Mille GT line of products. What this means is that other than being tight, the RSRs are long in the leg for maximum aero benefit.

2022 Assos EQUIPE RSR Bib Shorts S9 TARGA - cuff.jpg

At the bottom of the legs, you'll find a polka dot pattern of silicone grippers that REALLY hold the shorts in place. I have never come across grippers quite so effective, and at the end of rides these need physically peeling off your legs.

2022 Assos EQUIPE RSR Bib Shorts S9 TARGA - cuff gripper.jpg

To be honest, I'm not sure the shorts are going anywhere anyway, but the overkill grippers mean you really don't have to worry about the legs riding up while pedalling along.

2022 Assos EQUIPE RSR Bib Shorts S9 TARGA - cuff 2.jpg

One of the most visual changes separating the S9 range from other Assos shorts is the bib straps, which extend further down the shorts at the rear. Assos of course has a fancy name for this – 'rollBar' – and says that it helps to keep the seat pad in place. In use, the bib straps were easy to ignore, which I guess is a good thing; they have a good amount of stretch to keep the shorts up, are nice and wide and flat to prevent pressure points on the shoulders, and with just enough weight and structure to not bunch together under an aero jersey.

The only negative I do have about the straps is that because they stick out the bottom of a jersey, immature riding buddies might find it tempting to flick them on their way past…

2022 Assos EQUIPE RSR Bib Shorts S9 TARGA - back detail.jpg

The pad is Assos' S9 Sundeck, and while it's not the largest, it does provide excellent comfort. Assos uses a huge number of different pads in its bibs, tailored to the shorts' specific purpose. The S9s are designed for WorldTour racing so need to balance the comfort required for day after long day in the saddle without so much material that it bunches when hunched over the bars trying to get as aero as possible.

2022 Assos EQUIPE RSR Bib Shorts S9 TARGA - chamois.jpg

The result is spectacular. I've done countless six-hour days in the shorts, and I've found it to be one of, if not the best pad out there. I ride in quite an aggressive position and as such have found that many pads are simply too large; the main section of foam is just 9mm thick in the Targas and yet I've had no sign of aching sit bones and the large Sundeck Superlight upper (the bit against your skin) prevents any chafing.

Assos uses its familiar goldenGate technology here, too, stitching just the front and rear of the pad to the shorts, leaving a gap on both sides that is easily big enough to get your hand into. It means the pad moves with you, instead of with the shorts/saddle. I've been a big fan of this, and plenty of brands have started to adopt a similar idea, for example in the Velocio Concept bibs.

Value and conclusion

And then there's the less attractive feature of the RSRs, the price. At £255 these are the third most expensive pair of shorts we've ever tested. It's too early to tell for sure, but I am confident that despite their low weight the RSRs will be durable as the stitching is very strong and the material does appear to be more tear-resistant than standard bib shorts. You also get a two-year warranty with Assos kit, so you can be confident that it's not going to be a manufacturing defect that results in premature obsolescence.

But even expensive shorts such as the Velocio Concept shorts I mentioned above cost less – the Velocios are 'just' £228 and the MAAP Pro bibs £235 – and there are plenty of other excellent shorts that are still considered premium and will set you back a fair bit less, such as the Castelli Free Aero RCs for £175.

> Buyer’s Guide: 10 of the best cycling bib shorts

For most riders, the cheaper Equipe RS bib shorts (£175) will probably be the better buy as they still get the goldenGate tech and very similar bib straps and chamois.

If, however, you are an avid racer looking for aero gains, compression and light weight, then the RSRs are an excellent pair of bib shorts that provide exceptional comfort and performance.


Exceptionally comfortable, light and expensive bibs for WorldTour-level performance test report

Make and model: Assos Equipe RSR Bib Shorts S9 Targa

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

These are for riders who care about speed, weight and comfort on long rides whilst in an aggressive position.

Assos says: "A foundational redesign of our fastest bib shorts. The EQUIPE RSR S9 TARGA pushes second-skin aerodynamics, hyperlight construction, and race-tuned engineering beyond even WorldTour standards.

"We saw an opportunity to increase comfort and decrease weight without impacting compressive performance or aerodynamic properties. Targeted increases in stretch and support let us further dial the aerodynamics and compression while reducing pressure on sensitive areas, and the new construction dries faster, limiting perspiration's ability to add weight by soaking into the textiles."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Assos lists:

Composition: 68%PA 26%EA 6%PL

Ultralight XBIB straps

Zeropressure low profile waist

SkinGrip silicone grippers

Type.701 Kompressor material (main body)

Ossidia material (crotch area)

S9 sundeck chamois

2 colours available

Sizes: XS,S,M,L,XL,XLG


Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:

Wow. These are a really nice pair of shorts to wear. All-day comfort, unrestrictive pad, no movement from the legs, quick drying, aero, light... the full package.

Rate the product for durability:

Early days, but stitching is resistant to tugging and pulling, and the material also seems very tough and hard to tear, but I haven't crashed in them to find out – sorry not sorry.

Rate the product for fit:

These are unapologetically for racers; they're tight and compressive, and long in the leg. If you're of WorldTour build then these will fit very well.

Rate the product for sizing:

Sizing appears accurate, as long as you're of athletic/lean build.

Rate the product for weight:
Rate the product for comfort:
Rate the product for value:

You can buy much much cheaper shorts that will do the job very well. However, these are better in terms of quality, performance and comfort than basically anything else out there.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

No issues.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

These shorts put in an exceptional all-round performance.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Comfort on long rides.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The low bib straps are tempting to flick.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

As mentioned in the review, these are some of the most expensive bibs we've tested. They are, however, also some of the lightest and most comfortable.

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

They're an excellent product: light, comfortable and well made. If I was a WorldTour pro then I'd be choosing these. They are extremely expensive, though, and whether the levels of compression and claimed aero benefits are worth the premium over other excellent bibs, only you can decide.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 23  Height: 6ft  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Under 5 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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

Add new comment


timmyotool | 1 year ago

Longer leg and improved leg grippers. That solves the two problems I had with Assos shorts.
Now need to investigate whether the £175 pair had the same.

Chris Hayes | 1 year ago

Assos clothing tends to be a bit 'out there', pushing the boundaries for design, materials (and price, unfortunately).  

I'm not sure I'd spend quite this much on Summer shorts as there are some good, cheaper alternatives out there, but I've have 'invested' quite a bit over the years in their winter range where having the right clothing can make the difference between putting your kit on and going for a ride and thinking 'Not today.' 

I still have some AirBlock jackets that are going strong after 20 years, though a little worn - now compare that to my Castelli Alpha ROS where the stitching started to fail immediatey. 

captain_slog | 1 year ago
1 like

Can't argue with the tester's experience of the comfort of the ride, but I agree the extended straps do look a bit odd at the back. I can see how it makes sense structurally to support the pad but would prefer it to be a less conspicuous feature.

Phew, just talked myself out of spending 255 quid there.

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