I've made several complaints about the body and grippers of these shorts - I'd prefer more panels for a more compressive and flattering fit and wider grippers. However - and it's a big however - the saddle comfort Assos offers with these shorts is unrivaled. For that reason, I would still reach for the S9s ahead of a long day in the saddle and I'd recommend them to any women suffering from saddle pain (alongside a saddle fitting session).
No movement in or out the saddle
Bulky chamois aesthetic
Assos' Dyora S9 women's bib shorts sit in the brand's 'Race Series' - designed to be the top of the line selection for those looking for performance. I don't think non-racers should be perturbed by the name, these shorts are certainly suitable for longer endurance rides too, but I would happily pair them with my 1904rt race jersey for an event, too.
The party trick for these shorts is inclusion of the 'A-Lock Engineering'. This was released on the men's range last year. The bib straps attach much lower down and externally, to prevent the chamois from moving around. If you've ever got out the saddle, then sat down to discover that the pad has somehow 'folded itself' into a very uncomfortable 'peak', then this is designed to fix that. And it works.
Because the straps now sit so lowdown, there no need for much of a hold at the waist, hence raw cut edges which don't dig in.
Waffle padding and golden gates
The Dyora RS chamois pad is made from a lightweight foam, with Assos' three layer 3D waffle construction. It boasts the brand's 'Golden Gate' tech, where it's attached only at the front and rear to ensure it doesn't move around with friction on the short outer.
The insert is extremely comfortable, I've worn these shorts on rides ranging from 90 minutes to 5+ hours, and excursions on the longer end of that scale have resulted in zero saddle pain.
The density of the chamois does mean it holds on to moisture, the shorts feel heavy after a long day out - but this is sucked away from the skin so didn't result in discomfort.
Aesthetically, the way the chamois is framed at the front means it certainly stands out, and it feels a little strange when walking around off the bike. It's worth it for the comfort, and it's not quite as bad as the attention grabbing triangle the men's versions are so famous for, but can't be ignored.
Assos has tried to minimise the use of seams on these shorts, with the primary panel wrapping the lower back and legs. The brand says this leads to a uniform hold and less weight. Whilst I'll agree that seams in the wrong place can be uncomfortable and create unwanted bulges, I prefer the use of more panels which can spread compression a little more. I actually prefer the fit of the UMA GT half shorts which feel extremely comfortable and I believe offer a more flattering fit.
The fabric itself is lightweight, at 200g/m2 - and comes with 50+ UPF rating. I found it to be fast drying and the shorts kept me cool even under the summer sun. The bib strap material incorporates an antibacterial carbon weave.
There's no comfort break feature. Preference varies, but personally I believe since brands like Giro and Specialized are able to make systems which allow female riders to stop and pee without removing their upper layers, that don't impact ride performance, there's no reason for other brands not to adopt this.
Assos' T.laalalai shorts s7 bib shorts had a system, but the positioning meant it was all too easy to send the strap sailing into the toilet when flipping it over your head. Clasps at the lower back and halternecks work and I'd like to see Assos adopt something like this.
Assos has gone for a thin elasticated gripper on these shorts. This differs dramatically from the wide gripper that I love on the UMA GT half shorts. Both options hold the shorts in place, but this Dyora version is a little too compressive on me - I much prefer the wider tapered legs on the entry level shorts.
These shorts come in at £175. Whilst it's not cheap, we've recently tested other shorts retailing for more (Gore, Café du Cycliste) - and Assos kit has a longstanding reputation for being extremely hard wearing and long lasting. My Assos leg warmers are still going strong after four years and the UMA GT shorts have done two seasons so far and still look as new. Whilst a test of durability can't be afforded in a timely review, past experience leads me to expect these shorts to last twice as long as those from many other brands, representing good value.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.
A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly.
When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.
She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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