Assos Cento EVO Bib Review
Cons: Premium price, waist can feel loose
Our Analysis and Test Results
You would be wrong to blame us for wearing these for most of our long rides out on the road. The Assos Cento EVOs are really among the best bike shorts on the market. Sure, they come at a premium, but they are premium. We spend the rest of this review looking at exactly what we mean when we say that and how they compare to the rest of the market.
Padding and Protection
The Assos Centro EVO picked up our Editors' Choice Award in no small part because of its superior padding comfort. Nothing ruins a ride quite as much as having PITA shorts. Well, aside from bonking ⅔ of the way through your ride. Or getting dropped early. Or letting your buddies win literally anything. But in terms of riding shorts, it's the padding that will be make-or-break.
To get their performance, they use their CENTO S7 EVO insert. It's made up of 10mm of memory foam using their 3D waffle design, which uses three layers of perforated foam to drop weight and add aeration. It also uses their goldenGate design, which just means the chamois isn't stitched down, so it floats around with you a little more. It works. It's a good design that cuts down on friction and seems to improve fit and comfort.
A lot of riders enjoy the kukuPenthouse arrangement in the front of the shorts. It's a thin layer of brushed microfiber meant to reduce pressure, increase ventilation, and generally improve comfort. It's better than most shorts, for sure, but we found that the T. Equipe S7's chamois ends up doing a better job of coddling the cods, as it were. The pad just creates a cubby of sorts. Still, it's no deal-breaker and ends up remaining one of the best chamois designs out there.
Comfort and Fit
The fit is closer to a padded glove than a second skin. The Type .439 Diadema fabric is a blend of 73% nylon, 17% elastane, and 10% polyester, so it's strong (and does a good job with moisture management) with nylon and polyester blends, but it also has a good deal of flexibility and stretch capacity. On top of that, it's a four-way stretch design, so as a baseline, the fabric will do a better job of fitting the body than standard designs.
The thick, compressive quality of the material and the Cento's regularFit design give it the more relaxed glove feel. It's all anchored by the Y7 Frame Carrier at the shoulders and Ultralight leg grippers at the cuffs. The straps are wide, smooth, and protect the nips, so you don't need to cry when you turn the shower on after 100 sweaty, salty miles in the sun. We did find that the leg grippers slipped after maybe an hour, which was a little disappointing, but it's not too bad of a slip.
These bib shorts use Assos' Y7 Frame Carrier straps, which are basically wide straps with just a small panel in the back for added support and structural strength. You get lots of open real estate to manage with your jersey instead of worrying about doubling-up with your shoulder straps. It works really well. You'll notice it - especially on your trainer.
The lower portion, the shorts, are made up of the Type .439 Diadema fabric, which has a 10% polyester component. That extra polyester works, in concert with the tightness of the design, to pull out extra moisture, so you're not sitting in a damp kit for two hours.
The chamois is also really good about drying quickly. You can set it out to air-dry without having to worry too much about it. Obviously, the kukuPenthouse is just a thin layer of microfiber, so it dries out easily enough after washing, but it's also a vent when you're riding, so it helps a lot with breathability and moisture extraction throughout the whole pulpit, as it were.
The CENTO S7 EVO and 3D waffle design are also important to performance here. It's three layers of perforated foam that helps pull air in and draw moisture out. It makes for a good ride.
Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness
In this measure, we're really looking at whether or not things are bunching up or getting in the way of pedaling. Sometimes you'll get chamois pads that feel like big wadded up diapers sitting between you, your saddle, and your strokes. Or you might find that the shorts are so compressive as to actually impede your movement, mentally or physically.
The Cento EVOs have just zero of that. Again, this is why they're our Editors' Choice. Their overall design, regularFit, is meant to fit more like a glove than a second-skin. It maintains a close, compressive fit with just enough flexibility with its special textile, Type .439 Diadema. It's a 4-way stretch fabric that brings the ideal mix of tough fabric with lower elasticity, polyamide, polyester, and the super-stretchy stuff, elastane.
It means the fabric can be just a little more compressive and tight, but has a little more structural flexibility, as opposed to a material flexibility. The result is a better, more natural fit. This material makeup might be another reason that the cuffs tend to slide later on in the ride. Because elastane has a little less strength, shorts with higher elastane content might not be able to pull as hard on the cuffs to make them slip. That seems to stand up to testing, but we'd need a materials scientist to verify for us.
Even so, the Cento Evos don't slip that much and certainly not enough to impact riding. We've had shorts that will start to bunch at the crotch because of cuff slipping. That's not going to happen with these shorts.
At the other end of things, you need to consider how the bottoms are stay up. That's with their Y7 Frame Carrier shoulder straps. They're broad, tough, and tight. They fit the upper body quite nicely and don't seem to have any issues with wearing out early. They're attached at the waist where the zeroWaist band has the final clean-up, helping you maintain form without squeezing.
This is another area where the Centos knock it out. They've reduced seams throughout the shorts. That itself is a big help. Fewer junctions usually means fewer areas of weakness. Further, they don't have much in the way of exposed seams. That's especially important along the inner thighs where you can rub the threads to tatters if you have thunder thighs (and isn't that the uncomfortable truth for most of us riders?).
The Type .439 Diadema fabric is made up of 73% polyamide (nylon), 17% elastane (Spandex), and 10% polyester. The polyamide and polyester are both very tough materials that both improve the strength and the compressive qualities of the material. Having the lower mix of elastane slightly reduces the stretch ability, but makes the fabric harder to tear, fray, or rub away at the junction points.
The only area that could see that might cause some concern is the goldenGate design. For sure, it ought to remain, but the fact that it only has partial anchoring and leaves edges exposed makes it more vulnerable to wear and tear. We haven't experienced any issues, and we didn't find any reports of it happening, but it still could…
You may choose from any color you like, so long as that color is black. With a small gray accent stripe on the cuff. Lots of bike shorts only come in black, but we'd prefer to see a few other options - at least some real accents to match curtains to drapes and so on. Cyclists are a showy bunch, at least some of us, so a little color wouldn't hurt.
Still, the overall design is good about fitting form. There's a nice band around the droopiest part of the belly, the zeroWaist band, that gently holds in the squishy bits and offers some support and form improvement. At least visually. The four-way stretch .430 Diadema material also likely contributes to a tighter fit, which improves the complementing athletic look of the shorts. Their legs ride up around the upper portion of the lower third of the thigh, showing just enough of the thigh to be showy without going full-on European-style Daisy Dukes.
This is a tough one for any Assos shorts. The brand demands a premium but usually delivers. They certainly deliver the goods with the EVOs. If you have the budget and get in the miles, they're almost certainly worth it. If you're on a budget, you might look around a little more.
After spending some good time in the saddle and in doing our due diligence, we're confident that the Assos Cento EVO Bib Shorts are among the best bike shorts on the market today. There's no shortage of premium features, using top-end materials with excellent design and engineering. Out on the road, you're coddled in comfort, at the cod level down through the legs and up through the torso and shoulders.
Even in black shorts, you're reasonably cool with the shorts' superior moisture wicking. Even with our skeptic, hard-to-please eyes, we weren't able to find much to be grumpy over with these. The only things we really found were that the waist could be a bit loose, and the kukuPenthouse liner in the front of the chamois could see a bit of improvement vis-a-vis the T. Equipe S7. We can't imagine many riders will find much to complain about in the Cento EVO shorts. We're thrilled to keep them.
— Ryan Baham
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