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The S9 bib shorts from Assos feature an excellent chamois. The excellent bib straps lay flat and comfortably over the shoulders. The fit? Excellent. Distilled down, the S9 bib shorts are — you guessed it — excellent.
You’ll have to wade through a sea of marketing-speak to reach that excellence. Take the A-Lock Engineering with rollBar. Or the Carbon Xbib. How about the ergoBox? What the heck does all this mean?
It doesn’t matter. Here’s what you need to know instead.
The S9 shorts build upon Assos’s already stellar fit and against-the-skin feel. In short, if you’ve worn Assos bibs before, you know what to expect. The fit feels the same, the straps feel the same, the chamois feels the same when compared to the T Equipe Evo shorts we’ve been riding for quite some time now. Those shorts have impressed us in the past, and the S9 shorts continue that trend.
Perhaps the most visually noticeable new design feature is the rollBar system, which is part of Assos’s A-Lock engineering — a bracing system comprised of individual components, all aimed at stabilizing the shorts. The rollBar just means the bib straps extend down your back all the way to the chamois insert. Assos says this helps stabilize the chamois while you’re cornering or pedaling out of the saddle. We didn’t really notice any difference in chamois stability, but that isn’t an issue we’ve had with other bibs, especially those from Assos.
The chamois itself features tried and true Assos technology like Golden Gate. The front and rear of the chamois are sewn in place while the middle floats freely, thereby moving with your body more naturally. The chamois also has something called the kraterCooler, which is essentially a series of holes to increase cooling. Despite the silly name, this is actually a nice feature that you can feel on the road.
Some of the other marketing terms distract from the true performance of the bibs. The ergoBox and Carbon Xbib technologies, for example, get a one-line explanation on the Assos website. You probably won’t be much clearer on what they do after reading those lines — or after riding the shorts extensively.
A bit of poking around reveals that the Carbon Xbib is comprised of a single piece of fabric that butterflies around both legs and meets in the back. This, in theory, should create a more comfortable, compressive fit that won’t sag over time. We certainly didn’t experience any sagging, even after several hours in the saddle. And the ergoBox is simply a box-shaped pattern that, according to Assos, should keep your chamois centered and planted right where it belongs, whether you’re in the saddle or out of it.
Don’t let the marketing terms distract from what is ultimately a clear conclusion: These shorts are exceptional. They live up to Assos’s long history of comfortable performance bib shorts. Do the new features help the S9 stand apart from the T Equipe Evo bibs we know and love? It’s difficult to tell, but Assos devotees in need of a new pair of shorts should be satisfied.