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122015Mar

THE NEW ASSOS T.RALLY BIB SHORTS

 Product Review: The New ASSOS T.Rally _s7 Bib Short - MTB-Specific Shorts

The T.Rally bib short is not only brilliant conceptually, but another “market first” by the design and tech gurus at ASSOS. From the technical feel and fit of the extensive fabric design and construction to the well-placed and incredibly well conceived “crash pads,” the T.Rally _s7 nails this new product concept through and through. This review seeks to not educate ASSOS or the reader on the technical characteristics of the short, as that is clearly known and understood by ASSOS and readily available to the readers elsewhere. Rather, this review is this shop owner’s experiential product review of the prototype bib short provided to me 3 months ago; it is a short summary that is written in the context of someone whose shop was the first to carry Kitsbow, the leading mountain bike apparel innovator currently, and who rides and wears exclusively apparel from the ‘Triple Crown’ of Cycling Apparel: ASSOS, Capo, and Rapha (order not indicative of preference).

 

Upon first putting on this prototype pair of _s7 mountain bike-specific shorts, I noticed the heavier woven construction made for a slightly tighter fit than my road version (both medium); the tighter fit, however, did not bother me and the goal of seeking lasting product design will likely transform into less stretch over the years. The one thing that did concern me, on the other hand, was the front panel cut and construction at the top. While extremely comfortable below the belt line, it also felt slightly too low in the front, compared to the rest of the s7 line up. Accordingly to one of ASSOS’ leading designer, “The philosophy with the s7 shorts-generation is to allow for maximal freedom of movement; to do that the front panel has a lower cut compared to the past, and the bib {straps} are placed further on the sides so to keep the belly-area as free as possible. Since the amount of upper-body work you do in MTB is higher than in road cycling, the T.rallyShorts_s7 is roughly 1cm lower that the average s7 road shorts.” After a few months of technical riding here in Australia, I now agree the lower cut panel makes for easier and less encumbered movements and tension in the bib. Omar continues by noting “the difference is rather small, in fact we consider all our s7 articles almost equivalent in this respect.”

On a separate note, I did notice an audible “tearing” of the stitching when I lowered the front panel to do “as we men do,” relieve myself trailside. This “tearing” sound continued a few more times since the first time I pulled down the front panel and then suddenly stopped. I check with ASSOS on this, to ensure this was not a defect or long-term issue and once again the technical side of ASSOS put my mind at ease. According to Omar, “On the tearing sound: It’s difficult to give a conclusive answer without seeing your shorts. However, in garment production (and this is especially true if you look at prototypes) you will have some ‘preliminary seams’ that are stitched with the sole purpose of keeping the fabric patterns together while applying the ‘final/structural seams’. Once the second ones have been finalized, the first ones have fulfilled their job. I assume the tearing you are hearing is linked to the preliminary seams.”

The T.Rally chamois, like all the new s7 models, exceeded my expectation in comfort and durability on both long, technical trail rides as well as on short cross and road rides. (Incidentally, I will encourage my roadie teammates to buy these shorts for road racing. The extra hip protection is a huge selling point for better protection and quicker crash recovery. (Having hit the deck nearly every year since first road racing, I speak from experience here). The oval-shaped pad, which slides in and out easily, can be omitted but I can’t see a reason to do so. Pull it out for the wash, but easily return it for extra security when riding. The pad material seems to soften when heat from the skin contacts it. That is a nice feature, allowing literally not contact feel or abrasion while pedaling.

 Though the overall fit nearly matches the same fit profile as the rest of the five road variations of the s7 bib line, I do find the leg length slightly too short. The compression band is highly functional and keeps the shorts from moving up and down the leg; however, I’d like to see the short run 1cm longer. At 5’11 and 160 pounds (72.5 kilos), the medium fits like a glove, but feels too short in this one area. The additional weight of the short, over the comparable s7 models is negligible, and the upper bib straps meet the higher demands and movements of mountain biking; the straps just feel better, less constricting and more “frictionless.”

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All in all, the new T.Rally _s7 bib short is a “home run” addition to not only the ASSOS line up, but also mountain bike apparel in general. After three month of hard use (and regrettably a few crashes) the ASSOS durability and comfort can’t be overstated. This is my favorite product in a long time and in my humble opinion it should be product of the year in 2016.

 

Highlights:

  • Great fabric construction
  • Near-perfect pattern fit & feel
  • Oval pad placement spot on and ease of removability a big plus
  • Well-engineered bib strap design and functionality
  • Secret rear pocket for “man purse” or food