At £255/$350 these Assos Equipe RSR Targa shorts might be eye-wateringly expensive, but they perform in every conceivable way. The pad is comfortable on long rides, the fit feels like they have been tailor made and they provide the kind of muscle-saving compression I’d never previously experienced.
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A decent pair of bib shorts (opens in new tab) is a must in every cyclist’s wardrobe. Without them every ride becomes harder; a poor or ill-fitting pair can really spoil your day. They should support you where you need supporting, compress (opens in new tab)you where you need compressing and look good, but otherwise be completely forgettable.
Nothing Assos makes fits into the budget market, so if you’re going to spend a lot of money on a pair or two then you’ll want them to last. In my experience Assos products do last, though the Equipe RSR Targas are significantly different from others I’ve used.
Assos RSR Targa bib shorts: construction
The one thing I’ve never liked about Assos is the amount of packaging around a new pair. It might add a feel of luxury, but these days brands must address what will doubtless become waste.
Once you’ve found these shorts among the cardboard and tissue there’s not a loose thread in sight, they appear perfect in their build, just as you’d expect from Assos - and for the price. The look and feel matches that luxurious packaging, but there’s something different. The fabric feels dry, not rough, but like the crepe paper I remember from primary school.
This fabric is key to this updated model of Assos’s top of the range shorts. Recently relaunched, Assos says these shorts are, “engineered for riders who demand the fastest and lightest equipment, which pushes second skin aerodynamics… Introducing a proprietary fabric which actively reduces fatigue and increases speed.” They call it Superskin.
Marketing twaddle? We’ll talk about that later, but these are clearly made for speed with an aggressive cut and the kind of long legs you see professionals riding, which personally I prefer, despite my stumpy pins.
At first the didn't stretch like other shorts, even my older Assos ones, but this changes after each wash. The lack of a conventional gripper around the cuff - there’s series of silicone dots instead - exacerbates this lack of stretch, but the gripper works.
Those used to the old S7 model will remember the old model's pouch in which a bloke stored stored what a bloke keeps down his shorts. That disappeared with the original S9 pad, and these RSR Targas have an updated, lighter version of that which apparently has more compressive fabric, sporting perforations around the edge to aid ventilation.
Let’s start with that pad. I was disappointed to lose the pouch design I mentioned, even if it looked slightly kinky, but I don’t miss it. With this S9 you need to make sure everything is in place, but once you’re sorted the pad is super comfortable. Better than before.
The lack of bulk and those perforations certainly help, they really are cooler. The shorts are lightweight all over, though nowhere near as light as the Superlégers I tested as indoor training shorts over the winter - they’re not see-through - but they are definitely summer shorts.
Let's talk about the fabric and Assos's claim they "reduce fatigue and increase speed."
I like to think I'm not one to fall for marketing twaddle and I've argued with myself before writing this, but I've done a fair few rides in these shorts and every time they impress me. Not only are they comfortable, I have genuinely found myself feeling fresher when wearing these than any other shorts.
I’ll let you into a secret - I’m not very fit at the moment, but I believe they have added significantly to my rather poor endurance. Assos boasts that the new fabric allows for better compression and I’m willing to believe it is that which has gifted me some extra fitness. After all, riding is believing.
The lack of fitness I spoke about is accompanied by some unwanted bulk, but I’m happy with the same size I’ve always had with Assos shorts. They may have a little less give, but they fit absolutely perfectly, even if the dry feel I spoke of does make getting them on over knee warmers a bit of a chore. The fabric also seems to help prevent slipping forward on the saddle when pushing on.
The straps fit me perfectly, and having been sceptical about the lack of a back panel of old Assos shorts and more conventional models, they are super comfortable and ensure the shorts are kept in place, there’s no movement.
Other than that they’re completely forgettable, so they may be the perfect shorts.
- Price at the time of review £255/$350
- Weight 170g
- Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XLG
- Colours Black or Flamme d'Or
- Contact www.assos.com
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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