The Assos T.Laalalai S7 women's bib shorts offer excellent comfort in the saddle, the leg grippers don't dig in and they make comfort breaks easy. I still think the clasp needs to be repositioned, but Assos hasn't changed the design yet and so probably never will. No, they're not cheap, but I would genuinely expect them to last at least twice as long as any more moderately priced pair on the market.
Clasp should be at the rear
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When women ask me which shorts they should buy, I usually tell them to go for Assos if the budget allows. Not only are Assos's chamois gloriously comfortable, but I've never seen a product from the brand fail prematurely. The 'con' has always been the price, but when considered alongside competitors the T.Laalalai S7 women's bib shorts aren't more costly.
The T.Laalalai S7 women's bib shorts have been around for years, even as far back as the hugely unpopular marketing images which Assos used to publish (which are now well and truly a relic of the past), and far back enough that I've run out of amusing quips to make about the somewhat excessive use of Laa's and Li's in the name.
Assos has more recently launched the Dyora S9 shorts. These contain newer tech, and we rated them highly, but the older wardrobe staple still has a lot to give.
Assos T.Laalalai S7 women's bib shorts: construction
As the name would suggest, the S7 shorts from Assos make use of the S7 chamois. Comparing this with the S9 version, the pad appears to be very slightly less bulky. It does, however, still use the brand's 'waffle' construction chamois, with a three-layer foam insert that is thicker than most and features a dimpled surface.
As per the S9, you also get the Golden Gate tech: this means that the pad is stitched only at the front and rear and the centre floats, which means it moves with the rider. You can put your hand in the gap between the short fabric and the chamois and observe the foam construction underneath the surface of the pad.
The body of the shorts uses Assos's 'type.439 fabric' - this is soft but compressive, with extra elastic on the legs.
The bib upper is what really differentiates the S7 shorts from the S9. The latter uses a traditional design, which doesn't allow for easy comfort breaks. You'll need to take your jersey off to go to the toilet, which can be a pain when you've got loaded pockets, sweaty or cold skin. This is paired with the 'A-Lock' straps which aim to keep the chamois in place when you're out the saddle. On the S7 shorts, you lose the A-Lock development, but you do get a mesh rear panel with a 'mono bib' at the front and magnetic clasp. This means when you want to go to the toilet, you can unclasp the centre and feed the strap under your jersey.
Use of this system also means you get a less defined waistband, which will suit riders who find this can cut in.
The leg grippers also differ from the S9. Whilst the newer shorts have elasticated cuffs the whole way round, the S7 shorts have elastic, with silicone grippers, at the outsides and a folded seam on the inside.
Assos T.Laalalai S7 women's bib shorts: the ride
I have no quibbles over the comfort of Assos's chamois, at all. For me, these have always been the best and they continue to hold that position. As per most of Assos's kit, the upper can feel a bit short when you're standing, but as soon as you lean into the riding position this is resolved.
In terms of the body fabric, the T.Laalalai S7 women's bib shorts offer an excellent combination of stretch and compression. I tested the size small and they fitted perfectly (I'm 166cm and 56kg). The fabric wicks sweat away from the skin and dries quickly - so there are no worries there. Since the pad is thicker than that in most shorts, it tends to take longer to dry after washing - but in use, the top layer pulls sweat away from the skin, which is all that matters.
The leg grippers on these shorts have always concerned me: based on pictures they look quite narrow, which led me to believe they might dig in and create the dreaded Michelin Man/muffin leg effect. However, the combination of high elastic content on the outer and the softer inner meant that this worry was unfounded - the grippers held the legs in place without riding up.
As noted in my review of the Assos women's tights, I really think the brand needs to redesign the position of its clasp. Where it sits currently, you have to flip it over your head. At best, this is an unnecessary faff. At worst, it can end up in the toilet. Assos has been offering this option for longer than most, so kudos for that, but competitors who have joined the party later (Rapha and Specialized to name two) have all put the clasp at the rear - which just makes sense.
Assos T.Laalalai S7 women's bib shorts: value
Very often, Assos loses marks for its pricing. However, at £165, these actually compare favourably against other models on test this spring - such as the Rapha Classic Women's bib shorts (£170). Of course, there are more value-orientated options on the market: we really rated the Odlo Element Women's waist shorts at £50, and for a middle ground the Endura Pro SL women's big shorts come in at £129.99, though we found the chamois "a bit marmite". You don't need to fork out over £150 for quality bib shorts, but Assos is not pricing its gear higher than competitors. Not only that, I've never owned a piece of Assos clothing that hasn't outlasted all other cycling kit in my wardrobe.
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