Incredibly comfortable and impressively tough bib shorts, but the price tag is hard to swallow
Sep 4 2018
Shorts and 3/4s
An incredibly comfortable chamois and fit
Tough construction means they're likely to survive the odd stack
Quality construction and materials
The very athletic and low cut fit
You're a trim rider that wants the best and don't mind paying a lot for it
Assos is arguably the last word in luxury road cycling kit, but their XC bib shorts show that they can do off-road kit extremely well too. They're hugely comfortable and have proved to be plenty tough, but the eye-watering price tag and extremely athletic cut mean they're only for die-hard fans.
The XC bib shorts are made in a rather different way to most bibs, with low slung lowers being held up by a pair of broad straps that cross over at the rear rather than the usual high coverage around an integrated midriff and back. That means there's no material save for the low profile straps to give you a sweaty or clammy back and plenty of cooling airflow.
The shorts are made from a mix of high-stretch materials, with four-way stretch 'Type.429 Titanio' fabric bolstered by reinforced side panels that use a ripstop fabric with 'dyneRope' in it, which Assos says is 15 times stronger than steel. Having had the misfortune to test the abrasion resistance of these panels, I can confirm that it is extremely tough and resistant to tearing and seems to provide more protection than standard lycra, though that's not saying much. The only downside is that the material can be a bit scratchy if you wear them under baggies.
The fit of these shorts is extremely athletic - by that, I mean that if you have more than a few grammes of body fat on you then you'll know about it. I went for the small-sized shorts as I usually would and I certainly wouldn't want them any tighter, despite being a pretty reasonable BMI at 172cm tall and 65kg. Part of the issue is that as the waist doesn't extend much above your hips, they can sometimes give you a little bit of muffin top if your top rides up at any point, which is not a strong look. Of course, if you are a lean, mean racing machine with not a hint of any spare on tummy, this won't be an issue, but normal people be warned. I certainly considered a diet.
Apart from this potential fashion faux pas, the shorts are ridiculously comfortable. The chamois is huge and has been moved forward slightly from their road shorts to better work with the more extreme positions you get yourself into on a mountain bike. There are two 10mm deep pieces of padding - one per cheek - and these do an amazing job of cushioning your bottom from bumps, even on super long rides. The stretch leg grabbers aren't as deep as some, but they do a sterling job of keeping the shorts in place and didn't dig in either.
All in all, these shorts are quite possibly the most comfortable I've ever used and if I'm heading out for a long ride and don't intend to wear baggies over them, they're the ones I pick. However, despite the comfort and proven durability, £175 is a frankly huge amount of money to pay, even by the standards of high-end shorts - many of which are half the price of these. If you're an Assos fanboy or simply want the best and don't mind how much it costs, then you might be able to justify it, but I'd struggle.
Jon is the editor here at off.road.cc. Whether it's big days out on the gravel bike or hurtling down technical singletracks, if it's got two wheels and can be ridden on dirt, then he's into it. He's previously been technical editor at BikeRadar.com, editor at What Mountain Bike Magazine and also web editor at Singletrackworld.co.uk. Yes, he's been around the houses.