Assos T Equipe Evo Review
Cons: Comfort drops off after three hours, run a bit small, leg grippers can slide
Our Analysis and Test Results
Over the course of a few months, we put these shorts through the wringer to tease out as much quality and performance information as we could. We break them down along a handful of measures and compare them to other top models on the market. Read on to see how they stand up.
Most standard off-the-shelf bib shorts are pretty limited in their color options and design options. That's no exception here. The Assos T Equipe Evo bib shorts have three color options: all black, all black with the Assos logo on a leg, or black with the logo and a small strip of red, which the Swiss company calls a "colorway." It's not super splashy, but it adds a little vibrancy to the design.
The higher scoring shorts tended to have a little more color, texture, or other fine visual design aspects. The T Equipe Evos are at a bit of a disadvantage here too. Their Aero Patterning Fenomeno1 Design places the seams at the back of the leg, creating something like a compression skinsuit. While much more comfortable and performance-improving, it does remove the ability to play with visual aspects like line configurations and different colored panels.
If you're after shorts that have a little more color, take a look at the Gore C5 Bib Shorts+, our Top Pick for Short Course Award Winner. They wouldn't be the best alternative for rides over the two hour mark, but they're excellent for hard-hitting, fast rides in the 90-minute range, and they'll be sure to leave an impression. For more general bib shorts that will get you through a century in comfort and style, take a look at the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts, last year's Editors' Choice.
The first thing to look at here is the Ice Color fabric treatment; Assos claims that it helps to reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption. They certainly felt cooler in direct sunlight, but that's hard to measure out in the field. Where we could absolutely tell the difference was out on the multi-mile climbs and crit rides.
The bib shorts combine thin, durable polyamide with both elastane and polyester to create a strong, stretchy, hydrophobic material. It outperforms most other shorts out on the road and inside on the trainer.
A few other models feature water repellent fabrics, like the Rapha Cargo Bibs and Castelli NanoFlex 2 Bibs, both of which do great in damp conditions, but which both get bogged down and water-logged when finally inundated. They also both feel a bit warmer because they both have a brushed inner lining. Of course, that means they feel nicer, especially in temperate conditions.
The T Equipe Evos combine the tight stretch of the polyamide and elastane with the hydrophobic qualities of polyester. That said, you need to depend on wind and sun. If it rains and you're not getting a lot of wind across the fabric, you're SOL until conditions dry out. They're cooler in the summer and dry out quickly. We can't imagine reaching for another pair of shorts in fair to hot conditions.
Padding and Protection
Assos' équipeEVO_S7 insert alone is reason enough to take a serious look at these cycling shorts. It uses 8mm of memory foam, making it thin, but dense and super comfortable. It uses an elastic cover, which also helps it comfortably mold to your unmentionables for a more natural-feeling fit. That's enabled by the Golden Gate design, where the chamois is only stitched at the front and back, so it's free to float around with your body. Don't worry, we thought the chamois was already coming loose and falling apart when we first opened them, but that's part of the design.
What this all means is that the pad forms a thin, protective layer of material between you and the saddle. It moves with your body and something like a padded pouch cups and comfortably supports your undercarriage and accouterments instead of pinning everything down. Your level of fighting, pulling, and adjusting will be significantly reduced if that's something you tend to do in the saddle.
It's hard to imagine better comfort than what's on offer here, but butts are like opinions…and some folks might not have the same appreciation for the Assos design. If you're more interested in traditionally padded shorts for general riding, the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts are also extremely comfortable for hours in the saddle. If you plan to do longer rides or tours, you might need a little more regional coverage. You can get that with the Rapha Brevet Cargo Bib shorts, not to mention a little extra storage space for self-supported rides. If the concern is that you're getting too much padding, consider the Top Pick for Short Course Award winner, the Gore C5 Bib Shorts+.
Comfort and Fit
There's a moment when you first put these on that they feel a little odd. You acclimate pretty quickly and feel the difference it makes though. The cut is a bit lower than most bibs, which makes wee stops even more fun than usual. The suspenders are wider and farther apart than most other models, which Assos calls its Y7 Frame Carrier Bib Tech. This also reduces the compression on your torso and shoulder so you don't get that tied-down feeling that you tend to get with a lot of the best bib shorts.
Assos' Aero Patterning Fenomeno1 Design gives them a sleek, compressive quality. It was borne out of their 2012 Olympic skinsuit, placing a single seam at the back of the thigh to improve fit, comfort, and aerodynamics. And indeed, the shorts feel like a nice firm hug, instead of the strangling squeeze you feel with typical compression models. That could be partly owing to the lower polyamide mix compared to tougher models like the Gore C5.
The T Equipe Evos perfectly free the torso to breathe and move around while the lower back, butt, and thighs feel supported and protected. Few competitors can match their performance. The only real pretender here is the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts. They use a more traditional design to come up with a similar result, perhaps not surprisingly, their mix of nylon, polyester, and spandex closely resembles that of the T Equipe Evos. The end result is a pair of shorts that gently hug and greatly comfort. The difference is that the Assos seems to be a bit thicker and just a bit more compressive. Still, they SUGOIs are a bit more affordable for the price-conscious.
Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness
As with comfort and fit, they stand out here for many of the same qualities. Their relatively low mix of polyamide means that they retain a good deal of flexibility, so they allow a wider range of motion. Meanwhile, their Aero Patterning Fenomeno1 Design allows them to retain their clean, sleek fit and compressive qualities to keep the pedaling smooth and free. They definitely do a good job of supporting without limiting motion, which isn't the easiest balance to strike.
There were no other competitors that outscored them, but a few did earn the same high score. Nearly all of the competitors got their excellent efficiency through tight cuts and higher mixes of lycra or polyester. The SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts only used 68% nylon and flexible and form-fitting. The tradeoff there is in durability and support. The T Equipe EVOs is a bit more durable and supportive, plus their chamois is pretty darn great. It's the clear choice among the three, but the SUGOis is a fine alternative.
Assos uses a unique textile design, Type.439 Diadema, to achieve a high level of strength and longevity without sacrificing performance. Part of that secret is using 12% polyester to supplant what would otherwise be elastane. That allows more strength than the elastane and more flexibility than the polyamide, plus a higher degree of moisture management. It helps that the material is also a thicker gauge, so it can take a little more abuse than models with thinner material, like the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts.
Enough can't be said about the shoulder straps. We've had mesh straps just flat out fall to pieces before, but the wide elastic straps are not just more comfortable and supportive, they're also really tough. Perhaps the only area where we couldn't give higher marks for durability was the chamois; that's because it's only stitched down in a few spots to give the ÉquipeEVO_S7 Insert its Golden Gate design. That's a tradeoff worth taking because the comfort and improved performance you get out of it is just phenomenal.
As you move up in durability, you tend to move down in comfort and performance. The caveat here is that riders who really like tight, supportive shorts will not see the change in performance as a bad thing, but many of us prefer not to feel like we're fighting our shorts to pedal by the end of a hard ride. The Pearl Izumi Quest Splice Bib has the same score as the Assos bib shorts but get there with much higher nylon mixes and thicker fabric, making them a good deal more restrictive. They're both fine products, but the Assos shorts beat them out.
The shorts that score highest in durability are the Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool Bib Shorts. They also have the same performance tradeoffs as the Quest Splice mentioned above. They use thicker fabric with a very high mix of nylon and polyester, with a minimal mix of elastane. They feel a lot more like a wetsuit than road bike shorts, but they're tough, and you should get quite a few seasons of hard work out of them. If durability is your deepest concern, they would be a good alternative, but the Assos shorts should also last a few hard seasons without a problem.
One of the reasons these earn our Editors' Choice Award is because of their versatility. We've had them on commutes, crit-intensity rides, and long base-mile rides, and they do great across activities, but the sweet spot is probably hard rides in the two or three hour range.
Sure, you'll pay a pretty penny, but serious riders will be thankful they discovered these bike shorts. If you put in a lot of miles or find yourself constantly adjusting the gents, give these a serious look.
After hundreds of miles and many hours of research, we are convinced that these are the best shorts available on the market right now, which is why they earn the Editors' Choice Award. The chamois alone, the équipeEVO_S7 Insert, is enough to send these directly to the front of the pack. It's a thin slab of free-floating memory foam that creates a nice, form-fitting compartment for the gents instead of strapping everything down like some sort of punishment (isn't the self-flagellation of hammering it out on the road for hours punishment enough?!). They're not just any old shorts with a top-tier chamois though. They earn top marks using their unique design aspects and superior fabric to balance comfort, flexibility, and support. They cement their position by largely maintaining excellent performance throughout the day, so you can stay in the saddle through even the most grueling, grinding all-day rides.
— Ryan Baham
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