Assos has a reputation for providing the very best chamois for the job – we put its women's winter tights to the test
Assos’s naming conventions might bear resemblance to the patterns that appear on your screen when you decide to clean your keyboard out with an unravelled paper clip – but it’s also got a reputation for creating the best chamois pads in the business.
The women’s Habu LaaLaLai_S7 bib tights are designed to offer comfort during winter rides when the temperatures are ‘cold, but not extremely so’ – and while we like to moan about the cold in the UK, many of our days will sit in this category.
Assos Women’s Habu LaaLaLai_S7 bib tights construction
Assos’s bib tights feature its RX Heavy Fabric – this is water repellent and designed to be quick drying. There’s a reinforced double layer at the front and behind the knee, plus a panel of ‘Stratagon windproof fabric’ at the waist and abdomen.
The material on the inside of the leg has a brushed fleece appearance that initially made me believe these would be deep winter tights only – but I was proved wrong during testing.
The chamois is the area where Assos has its greatest claim to fame. Rumour has it a fair number of pros will have one of its inserts sewn into the their kit sponsor’s shorts – though without examining the laundry baskets coming on and off the buses there’s no real way to know.
In the case of these tights Assos has pulled out all the stops, providing a women’s specific pad with 8mm of memory foam, using three layers of ‘waffle’ fabric and the infamous Golden Gate – where the insert is left floating in the tights, which means movement on the outer doesn’t affect what’s going on inside.
A bowling pin-shaped seam features at the front, doing away with any seams cutting across the thigh – a personal bugbear and one that is perhaps shared by other women of a similar shape (think time trials and track, not hills and distance).
At the front, Assos uses its ‘mono bib’ design. A strap runs around the neck, and through the chest, with a magnetic clasp that can be released and run over the head to allow for comfort breaks.
There are reflectors on the lower calf – a sensible position to place them since evidence suggests reflective fabric should be placed on a moving area. Assos has left off any sort of foot loop or ankle zip – a plus for me since I’ve always felt them pretty redundant.
Assos Women’s Habu LaaLaLai_S7 bib tights: the ride
My first criticism of these bib tights was going to be that when standing upright, the strap running down the centre of the body felt as though it was too tight and pulling a little.
Assos, it seems, was one step ahead of me – explaining clearly in its product description: “when you stand upright, the mono-bib pulls and feels all wrong but this is correct – drop down to a cycling tuck and there is the ‘click on’ fit.”
Assos was absolutely right – as soon as I got on the bike, any concerns I had melted away as I eased into the saddle.
The first-class comfort I’d been promised from the chamois kept up with expectation. The chamois is thicker than I’d usually opt for, but I was blissfully protected, even when riding on a saddle that wouldn’t have been my first choice.
Whilst the notably soft chamois has a waffle like texture, the dominant fabric on the legs is more akin to a wafer – quite coarse but soft enough and with a feeling of durability. The material hugged my legs quite tightly on first wear, but did ease off to reveal a supportive fit which felt robust.
In terms of temperature regulation, I tested the bib tights in a range between 4-15°C and despite the warm-looking fleece lining I never felt too hot, nor was I ever cold – so they serve the job outlined of catering for in-between days.
The water-resistant material is true to its name: get stuck in the rain and huge beads of water drop off the fabric. You’ll never stay dry in a downpour, but these will help keep the worst off.
Thanks to their quickly becoming my go-to option, I’ve washed them several times too and can report no issues or degradation, though the fit has loosened up a little. Based on the size chart provided, I opted for a size Small of the XSmall to XLarge range. I didn’t find it necessary to size up as you may with other premium brands.
My only criticism of the Assos Women’s Habu LaaLaLai_S7 bib tights is that the neck strap situation feels a bit out-dated. Assos has used the same over-the-head neck strap, with a clasp at the front to allow for comfort breaks, for several years. The clasp itself has come of age, however, with the hook and eye progressing to a magnetic strip.
However, it’s still necessary to thread the clasp under the jersey and loop it over your head, then shimmy it down under the back of the jersey. This leaves a long trailing strip hanging behind you – a little too close to the toilet if you’ve got the luxury of indoor facilities. Then the (hopefully not toilet-dipped) strap needs to be threaded all the way back up the jersey, back over your head and down the front.
There were days when women had to lose the jersey altogether when stopping for a toilet break so I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. But at present time, several other brands offer options where the back of the shorts or tights simply pulls down, or where any clasp involved sits at the back – and it’s a lot easier. Granted, it takes quite a lot of development to make this work and could result in a loss of that perfect in-saddle fit – but that’a a conundrum for Assos.
Overall, these are excellent bib tights but if I could lay out one challenge for Assos in its pursuit of perfection, it would be to modernise its toilet break clasp.
Assos has a reputation for expense. At £230, these are not cheap. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t told me their Assos clothing has lasted over five years, so the maths speaks for itself.
Incredible comfort coupled with a flattering fit. The toilet break offering could do with some modernisation – but only if that can be done without impacting the ride quality.