Rally Trekking Jersey S7 price: $389 (including Skinfoil baselayer)
Rally Shorts price: $419
It seems everything in the cycling world is integrated these days, and Assos has brought purpose-driven integration to their new mountain bike clothing line with the Rally Trekking Jersey and Rally Shorts. They’re designed specifically for mountain bikers who sit more upright than road bikers and whose ventilation needs are different from those of their skinny-tired friends.
The chamois in the bib shorts is positioned farther back to accommodate a mountain biker’s riding position, and the straps lay flat with a narrower profile for accommodating backpack shoulder straps. The bibs fit exceptionally well and the chamois is, indeed, positioned very well for mountain bike riding. The bib straps are comfortable as well, and they stayed in place even when we were out of the saddle and shifting weight through tight singletrack turns. Compared to their road-specific shorts, Assos uses a more thickly-woven fabric on these shorts for durability and an exceptional fit, and they deliver on both accounts. The material tends to hug the thighs rather than pinch them, and the overall shape of the shorts conforms well to the body, especially in the hips.
The most unique feature of the bibs, however, is the presence of Impactpad inserts on the hips. They are made from 8mm thick viscoelastic polyurethane foam that holds its shape temporarily and molds to the body’s contours. They’re intended to help you keep your skin should you take a spill on the trail, though they’re placed a bit too low on the hips to be practical: they are below the hips themselves, on the high thigh area. The pads slip easily into sleeves on either side of the shorts, and while they usually weren’t noticeable, we were inclined to remove them more often than not—they are liable to get a bit warm on hot summer days. If your handling skills on a rough singletrack aren’t exactly confidence-inspiring, the pads can add a bit of peace of mind, but we mostly felt they were extraneous.
Assos has built a name constructing some of the best cycling shorts in the industry, and they have lived up to that high standard with these mountain offerings. We found ourselves reaching for these shorts more often than not, and they worked well underneath baggies too. As is generally the case with Assos gear, however, the price tag is sky-high, so while they pack a lot into these shorts, be prepared to pay a premium.
Assos’s Rally Trekking Jersey is not just a jersey — it’s a jersey system. It’s intended to be worn along with an Assos baselayer for both additional temperature regulation and increased UV protection. The latter is necessary because the back of the Rally Trekking Jersey is made using a 3D mesh construction that leaves plenty of space for UV rays to scorch your skin on sunny days. We tried wearing the jersey without the baselayer and the 3D mesh fabric was just too scratchy to be comfortable, and it leaves an interesting sunburn pattern.
While the jersey is impressive, it wasn’t our favorite choice for mountain bike riding for a couple of reasons. First, the 3D mesh material, while light and airy, is scratchy against the skin which means the baselayer is always necessary; this isn’t a problem on cool days or even moderately warm summer days, but in the nasty mid-summer heat, it’s too stifling. Second, the fit of the jersey is very snug and felt more like a road cut. Overall it’s a comfortable top, and in cooler temperatures the combination of the jersey and baselayer is quite nice, but if the mercury starts to rise, you’ll find yourself wishing for a thinner jersey that fits a little more loosely. That said, the 3D mesh material does provide some airflow that kept us cool on hot rides. It’s a good jersey, not great, and for the price, we would expect great.
We’ve come to expect high quality and smart design from Assos, and their mountain bike kit is no exception. It’s clear that a significant amount of engineering and care went into the development of this kit, and for the most part Assos hit the nail on the head with the shorts. If you’re heading out for some serious racing like the Breck Epic or Trans-Alps, these bib shorts are worth every penny. The jersey, on the other hand, seemed over-engineered and could probably benefit from a slightly looser cut. We’re not talking flapping-in-the-breeze loose, but a little extra room could go a long way for mobility and comfort. Buy it if you prefer a snug fit and don’t mind riding with a baselayer, even in the heat. Avoid it if you like that feathery, loose jersey feel when you’re riding knobbies.