Designed for those months of the coldest, most inclement weather, Assos’s RS Winter Bib Tights are warm, supremely comfortable, and measure up against the best despite an eye-watering price tag.
$440 / £345 is a ridiculous chunk of money
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While it’s not been the greatest of summers here in the UK, thankfully it was never quite cold enough for full on bib tights, but that time is fast approaching. If you want to keep on riding through the coldest months a good pair of winter bib tights are essential. They are the difference between building fitness on the road or the sweaty tedium of indoor sessions, the difference between monotony and soul enriching outdoor riding.
We tested these bib tights at the end of the last winter season. They form part of Assos’s Equipe line, with a more race focused and compressive fit and apparently enhanced aerodynamics, the S9 tag relating to the lighter, sportier pad than that found on the Mille product line. The Swiss brand recommend using these tights with their range topping - and even more expensive - Equipe RS Johdah S9 Targa Winter Jacket to keep you warm, protected and riding through the winter months.
Assos Equipe RS Winter Bib Tights S9: construction
As we might expect from Assos these are no simple bibs, they’re highly technical and constructed using a number of fabrics. The main body uses the company’s OSMOS Heavy insulation fabric, which, considering how warm it keeps you, is remarkably lightweight. SPHERE ultra and medium fabrics provide extra insulation on the knees, thighs, hips, crotch and lower back, with the added benefit of a level of water resistance. There are even taped seams to help keep the water at bay.
The SPHERE is a separate layer on top of the main fabric, but they fit so closely together you would only know it on close examination. When they come out of the washing machine the two layers separate causing a little alarm after the first wash. However, when dry the two layers had re-integrated and after a winter of use there’s no sagging or stretching in any of the fabrics, the appearance and fit remaining as it was when I first wore them.
Assos Equipe RS Winter Bib Tights S9: the ride
Most bib tights have ankle zips for ease of use. Assos go without and I prefer that. It may make getting them on and positioned correctly a bit of a task, but once they’re in place they don’t move and with no zip to slide undone there’s no patch of unprotected flesh open to the elements.
The ankle cuff is made of rubberized material which is totally waterproof to prevent road splash soaking you, but it doesn’t breathe at all and a combination of sweaty skin and no zip make getting them off a bit of a struggle. Yes, we’re nit-picking.
Despite being on the chunky side and these bibs being a race fit, they’re perfect for me. Yes they’re snug, but I love them, they’re made for being on the bike, and supremely comfortable. The lighter weight Equipe pad suits me and once the tights are on that stays in place, the whole package allowing for comfortable long winter miles.
Despite being designed for the depths of winter, I’ve worn them at about 10º without melting away, meaning they have the degree of versatility that you might hope for from an item with such a hefty price tag.
Assos Equipe RS Winter Bib Tights S9: value and conclusion
It’s perhaps difficult to suggest a pair of bib tights that cost $440 / £345 are good value. We live in tough times and most of us have other priorities which make justifying such expense to ourselves, let alone non-bike riding partners, difficult. But…
These bib tights are brilliant. I rarely wore anything else throughout last winter, and never for longer rides. That might have called for some hurried laundry, but they make winter riding fun - well, bearable. Other than a mark on one of the splash panels at the bottom of the leg they look as good as new, there’s no fraying or bursting seams, so they have stood up well to some fairly intense use. If they have the longevity I expect that wince-inducing price tag becomes far more justifiable.
Around $130 / £90 cheaper, Le Col’s Hors Categorie tights target the same place in the market and tick many of the same boxes. Well put together, like the Assos model they are made of multiple materials in multiple panels. Our tester even rated the pad very highly, though in my experience Le Col’s comfort doesn’t quite manage that of Assos.
Ultimately the choice between the two may come down to many factors, with price at the forefront of many decisions, however, for me the fit and legendary longevity Assos offer make them good value, despite that hefty price tag.
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