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Tested: Assos Trail Collection

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In the restaurant industry there’s McDonald’s, and then there are the decadent New York Steakhouses and seven-course French restaurants. Sure, McDonald’s does the trick in a pinch. It will fill you up, keep you going for a while and is a staple of any long road trip, but it isn’t very enjoyable. Those Michelin three-star restaurants on the other hand--they’ll likely be the best food you have all year. A true culinary experience worth calling for a reservation months ahead of time, getting dressed up for and sitting for hours on end as course after course is served with a perfectly paired bottle of wine.

The Assos Trail Collection is like that fancy restaurant. It’s an experience on a whole other level compared to the run-of-the-mill trail wear. It’s almost not even worth comparing the two. But that level of luxury doesn’t come cheap. Surprisingly, in a departure from the norm for Assos (I’m looking at your T.Rally Bib), the trail wear isn’t out-of-this-world expensive. But it still isn’t cheap.

Trail SS Jersey | $120

There are three main components to Assos’s new kit. First up--the appetizer if you will--is the jersey. There really isn’t much too it. Literally. This is the lightest and thinnest jersey I own, which is a great feature for extra steamy days. I wear a medium and the fit is on the tight side of loose. There’s almost no extra fabric around the arms and only a little bagginess through the torso. But that doesn’t mean it’s constricting. I took this kit through rowdy enduro terrain and cross-country pedaling alike, and at no point felt the jersey was fighting against the movement of my body.

The underarms of the jersey are a stretchy, mid-size mesh that does wonders for moving air. The arm length is to just above my elbows, and on top is a slightly stretchy panel that runs across the shoulders and to the other arm. The front and back panels are the same fabric as the shoulder panel, and if you look closely there’s a small triangle pattern across the jersey. Assos calls this ‘circular-knit Triangle textile’ and claims it’s a tough material that pulls moisture away from the body.

I don’t know much about textile weaving or triangle-shaped fabric, but I do know the jersey is comfortable, it didn’t rip and it breathed reasonably well. I say ‘reasonably,’ because I still got sweaty. In the 90-percent humidity of the Northeast, that’s unavoidable, and the jersey performed admirably for how snug it fits. But if I were to get another, I would size up to a large for a baggier fit that would suit my style better and would, in my opinion, allow more air to move through the jersey.

So is it worth it? To continue with the food analogy, like any appetizer, it’s great to have, but if you are trying to save some cash, go for the liner and cargo shorts before the jersey.

If short sleeve jerseys aren’t your thing, there is also a long-sleeve version for $150, which has similar construction, but uses a more robust, armor-like textile on the forearms to protect against reaching branches and bushes.

Trail Liner Shorts | $140

If the jersey is the appetizer, these are the main course. They’re why you made the reservation.

Not long ago I wrote a review of the Assos T.Rally Bibs. Where those bibs were robust and made to be worn on their own, the Trail Liner is thin, lightweight and made to be worn under a pair of baggies. Despite their differences, the chamois is the same, and it is equally as magical in the Liner as it is in the T.Rally. It’s a two pad design covered by a soft fabric and all stitching has been moved away from the body. There are no pressure points to speak of, and no matter what body position I find myself in, the chamois is always exactly in the right place. It doesn’t chafe, it doesn’t bunch up and it doesn’t matter how long you’re riding for, it will continue to be comfortable.

Separate from the chamois, the Liner fit like a second skin. The fabric is very snug, and since it’s meant to be worn under shorts, all the stitching is on the outside. This makes them look inside out, but it also means they sit perfectly flat against the skin. On the outside of the Liner you will also find two pockets designed to hold hip-pads for extra protection. The hip pads are an impact foam that softens from body heat and is unnoticeable while riding.

Somehow, Assos seems to have perfected its liner’s elastic waistband. Before my first pair of bibs I would often ask, “What’s so great about having straps over the shoulder?” The answer was usually along the lines of, “it’s much more comfortable around the waist.” And that is true, they sit flat, don’t squeeze and are just plain comfy. All of that could be said for this liner’s waist as well. The waistband is about two-inches thick, with a rear section made of slightly-stiff elastic. In the front, the elastic is much softer and stretchier. It sits flat, is just snug enough to stay in place, but definitely doesn’t squeeze and is just plain comfy.

Is it worth it? Yes. Undoubtably, yes.

Trail Cargo Shorts | $150

If you’ve been paying attention, you can probably guess what I am going to say about these shorts first. They’re really lightweight. Pair them with the jersey and the liner, and it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing much--an admirable quality when the country seems to be in a perpetual heat wave.

Unlike the jersey, which I felt could’ve been baggier, Assos nailed the fit of the cargo shorts. They’re baggy, but not DH baggy. Through the seat and crotch of the shorts, they’re snug enough that I never got caught on my saddle, and they are loose enough around the knee to fit my rather bulky Leatt knee pads.

The simplicity of the shorts is also refreshing. There are two zippered pocks about halfway down where I carried my phone and keys--neither of which I noticed moving or being in an awkward position while riding.

The waist also plays on simplicity, with no size adjustment to speak of. Like the Liner waistband, the back is a wide mid-stiff elastic, and the front is an incredibly supple and soft elastic. The shorts sit flat and doesn’t squeeze. This must be why people rave about yoga pants.

Are the shorts worth it? They’re the dessert of the three course Assos meal, and when going out for a fancy dinner, you never skip dessert. They’ve quickly become my favorite riding shorts and pair exceptionally well with the Liner. That being said, if I had to choose just one, the Liner would be my go to.

In addition to the Liner, Shorts and Jersey, Assos has also announced arm and knee protectors, along with some FF gloves. The protectors aren’t pads, but more like arm and leg warmers built with a strong, abrasion resistant fabric. The gloves are a mesh palm with padding on top and a flexible cuff. Find all the info on Assos.com.