Assos T.607 S5 Thermal Bib Shorts and S7 Knee Warmers

 Assos’ images are just too cool not to use. I’m not sure I even know anyone this certain of his coolness.

Cycling’s natural habitat is summer, same as the natural habitat of the panda bear is bamboo forest. It’s just how the sport is supposed to work. Consider: Speeding through the air on a hot day gives you a cooler experience than if you simply sat fanning yourself on a veranda. Sweating on said hot day goes over better if you’re not covered in clothing.

Go for a ride on a cold day and comfort gets complicated in a hurry. That convective cooling thing that works so well on a July day can be hell in December. Might as well rub ice cubes on your skin if you’re just going to go out in a jersey and shorts. You’ve got to stay warm, so you’ve got to cover up yards of skin. But you’re going to sweat, so your clothing needs to wick all that moisture away.

By now, you’ve learned all the basics to riding in the cold. We know that. Heck, I suspect most of you could teach a graduate seminar in winter base miles.

That said, there’s one piece of clothing that I think has been consistently under-appreciated: the thermal bib short.

That brings us to the Assos T.607 thermal bib shorts. In general, I don’t think there’s another piece of clothing on the market that could do more to increase a rider’s comfort in cold weather than the thermal bib short. The problem, as I see it, isn’t that riders haven’t been buying them. It’s that clothing companies make them too rarely and market them almost not at all. Getting retailers to stock them is like asking the attorney general to sell crack. Little wonder that I like to call them the secret weapon.

What amazes me is how we all think to put knee warmers and leg warmers on crafted from Roubaix Lycra and yet its furry warmth doesn’t seem necessary for protecting our more sensitive undercarriage bits.

Assos rates their thermal bibs to temperatures as cool as about 46 degrees. Those crazy Swiss. Such modesty! When hell freezes over, these babies will be on my ass as I ride my ‘cross bike through the icicle flames.

Justifying a $300 pair of bib shorts isn’t easy. It’s even harder if you’re married. And want to stay that way. However, there are three features in particular to recommend these. First is the classic Assos fit. Anyone who has enjoyed a pair of Assos bibs on a long ride knows that no other bibs on the planet offer more comfort in fewer panels, or even the same number of panels. The cut is almost identical to their top-selling Mille (say Mee-lay) bibs.

Next is the fact that the T.607 bibs use the same pad found in the Mille bibs. This is Assos’ thickest, broadest pad. No matter what you may think of big, thick pads, you haven’t pinned the needle on the comfort meter until you’ve worn bibs with this pad. And because the pad is generously cut, any time you spend off the bike (say in line at Starbucks) isn’t accompanied by an inappropriate anatomic demonstration. Ahem.

Why any company would go to the trouble of making a thermal bib and then not actually spec it with their best chamois defies both logic and explanation. You might as well buy a Ferrari and put Costco tires on it. Really? That’s your plan?

A detail of the Roubaix Q fabric

Roubaix Q is the other reason why if you’re going to bother to plunk money down for the secret weapon, you need to think about these bibs. Roubaix Q is a fleecy Lycra, but with a twist. It features a waffle pattern. Think old-school long johns. The pattern creates more space to trap air and keep you warm. And of all the Roubaix Lycras I’ve ever worn, Roubaix Q is the softest version ever to grace my caboose. Not that there’s anything particularly graceful about my caboose. The material used on the outside of the hips, where the wind makes more direct contact and in front on the lowest portion of the bibs to help keep your torso as warm as possible. A more traditional Roubaix fabric with a smoother finish is used in the high-wear areas of the bibs.

The bib uppers are essentially identical to the Mille bibs. It’s a lightweight material that helps wick moisture away quickly to keep you dry.

Assos has come out with a new set of knee warmers, the S7, also made from Roubaix Q, except for the portion just behind the knee, to reduce bulk. They run from mid-thigh to the bottom of the calf. They also run $85; that might seem like a lot for knee warmers, but other brands have appreciated, making these simply a bit more expensive, rather than hideously so.

The S7 Knee Warmer

The S7 knee warmers are a curious departure from all other knee warmers I’ve ever encountered. They lack a leg gripper on the top hem. I’m one of those fortunate souls who has rarely had trouble with leg grippers, either in my bibs or in my knee warmers. However, I know plenty of riders who complain of an allergy to the gripper material that results in uncomfortable skin irritation. Assos has designed the T.607 thermal bibs to hold the S7 knee warmers in place. The silicone gripper has a remarkable ability to hold the waffle surface of the S7 knee warmers in place.

I’ve tried the S7s with other bibs. They are nearly proprietary knee warmers. A few pairs of bibs have held them sufficiently in place, but they haven’t worked with most bibs I’ve tried. After a little more than an hour the knee warmers creep out, exposing the back of your thigh before just pulling out entirely. I suspect the key is to wear them with bibs that feature grippers that don’t lay in-line with the rest of the garment. Any gripper that protrudes from the surface of the hem, as Assos grippers do, will probably work.

What’s that you ask? You could just purchase knickers and be done with it? Well here’s the thing: I see this bib/knee warmer combo as the wintertime cycling-equivalent of the ragtop. During the week, when I have less time to get ready and get pressed into family duty the moment I walk in the door following the ride, embro isn’t really an option. So I can wear these bibs with these knee warmers. On the weekends, when I have more time on both the front-end and back-end of my ride, I can do embro and leave the knee warmers in the drawer.

Perfect.

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12 comments

  1. Mo'Nilla

    I’ve always thought there was a dearth of cycling bibs in different weight fabrics. Seems everything is either flyweight, or thermal tights one might wear on the ManTour to Ice Station Zebra. Boure’ is one company that offers most of what they make in several different thicknesses, but they’re just not as cool as Assos. Maybe after SWMBO delivers my paperwork I’ll be able to afford…doh!…nothing! Maybe I can find a pair of these at the next BikeSwag expo for $40…the way I got my Nalinis that are now disintegrating from use (doubt it). Maybe when Assos starts making their entry-level stuff in China, like Rapha does… And do verandas even exist in SoCal?

  2. todd k

    I can’t comment specifically on the Assos thermal shorts and knee warmer combo, but I can say that the thermal bibs and knee warmer combo is a great solution for winter riding. I’ve been using the Castelli Nanotech line and it functions much the same with the addition of some rain shedding properties (I think they are a great bargain by the way).

    I like the thermal bibs solution as they tend to help keep my core warmer and I tend to find if my core is warmer I tend to suffer a bit less with my extremities even if it is quite chilly. Plus they tend to not produce that clammy feeling you get if you put in a hard dig, begin sweating and then find yourself suddenly doing a long downhill stretch that causes your sweat turn cold. I rarely feel over heated wearing them and you can ride in them over a very wide temperature range. They are a versatile piece of apparel.

    The combo of thermal bibs and knee warmers also functions well for days that are ambiguous. For example your ride may begin under very brisk temperatures, but mid ride you know you will be riding under warmer circumstances. You can quickly abandon the knee warmers when needed and stow them in a jersey pocket. It is nice to not have to compromise a portion of your ride by being either over or under dressed.

  3. Patrick

    The temperature ratings are all general, of course, but what do you think the lower end is for these bibs with a set of legwarmers? High 30s? Legwarmers with summer weight shorts does a great job somewhere into the high 40s, but anything lower causes rosey cheeks, so to speak…

    Or, is it just better to get proper full length bibs / tights rather than trying to mix and match warmers and shorts? I won’t ride when it’s 25 degrees because I’m a wuss, but I need a better solution for winter days in the mid or upper 30s when sitting inside still feels lazy and unexcused.

  4. Moneyfire

    I feel compelled to disagree with the Assos pictures comment. I have always found their accompanying photography to drip of douchebaggery. I mean that guy looks like a total jerk, I can imagine him rolling up to a local ride and ruining it for everyone by being all sorts of the wrong cocksure, smug, a-hole that populates certain sectors of the bike community. Not saying that everything needs to be Rapha-epic but that guy, that guy budgets mirror time prior to hopping on the rig.
    That said, man I dig on Assos kit. Roubaix fabric is easily one of may favorite things about the fall.

  5. todd k

    Patrick: I’ve used a similar combo to the Assos gear above down into the 30’s…. I would probably be ok into the high 20’s.

    I find that once the temp dips below the 30’s the items that are most apt to improve my comfort are adding a wind jacket instead of a wind vest, using thicker gloves, thicker socks, and using something along the lines of a Balaclava, winter collar are difference makers. I feel that temperature more in the extremities than in my core.

    Different folks have different tolerances of course… though I must confess I don’t really feel like much of a hard man lately…

  6. Larry

    That Assos “jerk” just took a top 30th overall and first in his age group in Kona for this years Ironman. He isn’t a “pro” athlete since he has a full time job but he’s also the Ticino State Road Racing champ in Switzerland.
    He’s super friendly and totally humble. I rode with him for a week in Marin a couple years ago and he hammers.

  7. Rich L

    I’ve been a big fan of the thermal/brushed short for about 5 years now. It’s so flexible and really extends the wardrobe. I like using them with knee warmers, but the funny thing is that I do not own any 3/4’s any more. Sometimes I think that I should, just for commuting as it’s much quicker in getting changed.

    I’d recommend that people give them a go. There are tonnes out there now at all price ranges, so you don’t have to shell out top dollar for Assos. I can say that I have a pair of these and they are the best ones I’ve ridden in, no doubt some of that explained by the fact that these are also the most expensive ones I have. The quality is good, very good, and I’m expecting to get very long service out of these. I’ll probably back them in my bag when the Flanders Sportive rolls round in March.

  8. Patrick

    Seems only right to follow up on my numerous questions from two weeks ago with some solid feedback for others to consider. Padraig’s review is spot on. Santa brought me a pair of these Assos thermal bibs, and they are absolutely great, just as they should be for the price. I’ve worn them with legwarmers on a couple of rides in the high 30s and low 40s and they are completely comfortable. The pad is really comfortable despite being very large, and the bibs do a great job of keeping everything exactly where it belongs. The fit and the warmth makes me never actually think about these bibs, other than occasionally to consider how much I like them, which leaves me more time on the bike for my mind to wander about how slowly I’m going, or what I’ll eat for dinner (which is probably contributing to my slowness to begin with)…

  9. Kjetil

    Thanks for the review and the comments. Made me get the credit card out for the T.607. I had both the s7 knee and leg warmers from before, and trust the T.607 will be a noce supplement to my Mille s7 bibs.

    As for the Assos guy, I always liked the photos*, and reading that he is an accomplished multisport spare time athlete don’t make the worse.
    *Must admit that I like the Assos girl photos even more.

  10. Michael

    It’s like throwing a hundred dollar bill out the window! I depend heavily on leg warmers for my daily commute. The warmers I have used in the past (DeMarchi) normally last about a year and a half before the lycra material starts to pill and breakdown, at the same time the silicone grips also breakdown and they don’t stay up as well. This round I thought I would try a different brand with different materials to see if there is anything better. I went with Asso for their reputation of quality materials and design. The sizing system was confusing but I am normally a large in most European sizes so I ordered what the site claimed to be a large, size ll. I tried them on, fit seemed good so I went for a ride. In minutes they were around my knees, pulled back up, and down again, and again, and again! Took them off and sent them back! According to the Asso web site size ll is an X-Large so I informed Tour Cycling of the mistake and they gave me the next size down with no issue. Put the new size on, fit was good, definitely a little tighter and went for a ride. The same problem, they are unusable! I immediate ordered a pair of DeMarchi Contour warmers at half the price and they are wonderful! I am sorry DeMarchi! My punishment was a hundred dollars and I won’t forget!

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