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Has Assos raised the bar with its new S9 generation bib shorts?

Assos has today unveiled its latest generation Equipe RS S9 shorts with a host of changes and new technologies aimed at furthering the performance Assos shorts have always been known for. These new bib shorts won’t be available to buy until January 2019 I’m afraid, but here’s a first look anyway.

The new S9 shorts replace the previous S7 shorts (not sure what happened to the S8 shorts?) with an entirely new design that has been tested not only by in-house testers but also put through their paces with the BMC World Tour team.

assos s9 shorts1

assos s9 shorts1

Key to the new S9 shorts is a new padded insert, so let’s start there. It’s a streamlined race-spec insert with a reduced volume and weight compared to the previous S7 insert and uses a microshock foam to maximise breathability and larger perforations at the front increase ventilation. The GoldenGate (the middle portion of the insert isn’t stitched to the short) remains in the new insert. It’s also now grey compared to the previous purple.

assos equipe rs s9 shorts7

assos equipe rs s9 shorts7

The previous Assos padded insert, in my opinion, was one of the best in the business so it’ll be interesting to see how the new pad stacks up in comparison.

The bib shorts have been totally redesigned, and pivotal to the redesign is what Assos is calling A-Lock Engineering. It’s a new way of attaching the bib straps to the shorts intended to better stabilise and secure the padded insert in place as you move about in the saddle. The new bib straps cross over at the back and are anchored in two places at the back of the shorts, while at the front they are placed very wide to minimise irritation.

assos equipe rs s9 shorts3

assos equipe rs s9 shorts3

Just two panels have been used in the construction of the shorts, a “butterfly” panel wraps the legs and meets at the rear to form the “ergoBox” structure, and there are 30% fewer seams as well. Also new are the ultralight leg grippers, using a new fabric to provide a better grip on the skin to prevent them moving about. The large band, as is popular with cycling shorts these days, spreads the pressure evenly.

assos equipe rs s9 shorts2

assos equipe rs s9 shorts2

There will be two versions of the shorts, the more affordable RS which focuses on outright comfort and support with a unique “rollBar” which holds the padded insert in place, and the RSR for the weight weenie that does without the rollBar to reduce weight to a minimum. There are also new fabrics used in the construction aimed at improving aerodynamics, weight and comfort.

Roche Maier, Brand and Product Chief said: “Our S9 shorts incorporate the knowledge and expertise gained through over 40 years of producing technically advanced cycling apparel. We strived and succeeded to create the perfect balance between lightweight and stability to provide total ASSOS comfort leaving the rider with nothing to focus on but the ride ahead.”

assos s9 shorts2

assos s9 shorts2

The new Equipe RS S9 shorts will cost £175 and as previously mentioned won’t be available until January 2019. More www.assos.com

Quick First Impressions

I managed to get a pair in early for testing and went out and rode a 307km Audax with them. Here’s how I got on…

Okay, I know wearing new shorts for a big ride is a bad idea and not something I ever recommend, but I had faith in the new Assos shorts not letting me down. And let me down they did not. They feel very different when you first pull them on, a much lighter and less intrusive feeling bib short, with the waist opening feeling more seamless with my body than probably any other bib short I’ve tested. The bib straps sit comfortably over the body with no irritation to be recorded anywhere and do indeed keep the padded insert correctly positioned throughout a ride when you’re constantly in and out of the saddle.

And as for that new padded insert, well I had my doubts based on how thin it felt in the fingers compared to the previous S7 insert, but it delivered amazing comfort from the first mile to the very last. There was absolutely no discomfort during any part of the ride, no squirming or moving about in the saddle during the latter stages when even the best shorts can start to let you down. I’m impressed.

I’ll get some more miles logged and write up a more in-depth first ride in a couple of weeks so watch out for that.

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.