Assos Uno Bibs

The knock against Assos is always their cost. The Swiss manufacturer is famous for nothing so much as their pricing that makes Mercedes seem as affordable as Kia. Sure, they are known for their over-the-top models and pimped-out images of said models in their clothing, but the prices can make you forget the models, at least until you put your injured Visa away.

But here’s the thing: While everyone I have spoken with about Assos has exclaimed, “Dude, that’s a lot of f***in’ money for a pair of shorts,” everyone I know who has actually plunked down said money has rendered the same verdict—”Best shorts I’ve ever worn.”

The F.I. Uno S5 is Assos least-expensive pair of bibs. At $200 that’s a good deal more than almost all of their competitors’ most expensive bibs. This is Aston Martin territory, wherein every vehicle they offer is more expensive than anything Lexus offers. That can be hard to wrap your head around. It doesn’t so much redefine the term “luxury” as render it useless.

And while I’ve driven very few Mercedes and only ridden in a single Aston Martin, I have this suspicion that after a fortnight in a fine example of either, going back to my Subaru  would be like drinking Two Buck Chuck after having spent a weekend in the Russian River Valley. You’d wonder what the point was.

That’s a bit like my reaction to the Uno bibs. My recollection is that the most I’ve ever paid for a pair of custom bibs was $120. The material was pretty good and the fit was good, but the pad was just so-so. (The best pad ever included in a pair of custom bibs, by contrast, was not the most expensive pair.) You’d hope that the $200 Unos would be better than that, right?

Well, the Uno bibs are unsurprisingly better. They are also so superior to most of the custom stuff I’ve worn that I wish they did my custom kit. But then I don’t suppose many people would buy it. Here’s the crazy thing: If you told me that Assos made only one pair of bibs and the Unos were they, I’d believe and would never dare wish for something superior; they are that good.

But Assos positions these as their all-purpose training and racing bibs. Which may undersell them, kinda like having a dressy tux and then a casual tux.

When I compare the Uno to other shorts in the $180 to $220 range, the Uno is the hands-down winner. Now, I can’t claim to have worn all of the offerings from Capo and Rapha out there, but against Giordana, Castelli and Hincapie, the Uno is the clear winner. That’s not to say I don’t like the others, but the Uno is just superior.

Take the pad in the Uno. It isn’t curved like that in the Mille, but it still fits very well. It’s also more comfortable than the pad in comparable shorts from Castelli and Hincapie. And the pad in the Giordana Forma Red Carbon? This is the same pad that Vermarc uses, the same pad that graces the powerful hindquarters of Philippe Gilbert. That pad? It’s too narrow for my ass. My sit bones fall beyond the thickest portion of the pad. I have no such trouble with the pad Assos puts in the Uno.

And how a six-panel short can fit so well and offer compression over an evenly distributed area is as surprising to me as a pharmaceutical with no side effects. As much as I love Castelli products, I think their shorts are cut for people with less caboose than me; as a result the fit just isn’t terrific; they are a bit tight up front.

Let’s consider for a moment that I’m discussing each of these products in relatively newish state. My experience with Assos is that these bibs, now eight months old, will still be in rotation in five years. I’ve never had a pair of shorts last as long from any other manufacturer. For that reason alone they are worth comparing against any similarly priced shorts.

But here’s the kicker: Had I never worn Assos’ Mille bibs or the T.607 thermal bibs, and only knew the Unos, you could have lied to me and told me these were the very best shorts out of Switzerland and I wouldn’t have had reason to doubt you. I’d like to try the rest of the comparable bibs out there, if only to test my belief that these are the very best value in shorts you can get for $200. Given what else is on the market in this price range, this is one time when you simply can’t knock Assos as too expensive.

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34 comments

  1. John

    I’ve tried pretty much every make of short out there. I’ve been working in shops part time for 15 years for fun. I buy roughly 3-4 pairs of bibs or tights a year. Add that up over 15 years, and I have a pretty solid idea of what’s good and what’s not. UNO’s are by far the best bib on the market in terms of $ value and quality. Almost every company has a +$200 short on the market now with some of the big names putting out stuff that is into the Mille price range. The UNO crushes them. Easily. The shop I currently work at has stopped stocking any other short but Assos. We found once you got people to try them on, it was easy to talk them into spending the extra $50 over a pair of PI, Biemme, or Hincapie. It’s only $50, but the difference feels like $150. We have also done 2 runs of custom club kit with them. Make them, and people will buy them.

  2. Troutdreams

    After reading your review I would be tempted to try out a pair if they didn’t say “Assos” on the side.
    Who wants to be known for spending $200 plus on cycling shorts?

    I have a hard time understanding the prices of cycling attire. Maybe it’s because I was a runner first and still regard the shirts and shorts worn during my activities as little more than “sweat sponges”. Fashion comes far down the list but much to my dismay it seems to be driving the cycling attire industry. Sure, I can appreciate a quality bib as much as the next sore arse, but the only explanation for these prices is fashion.

    I don’t spend as much on dress shirts as most jerseys cost. And if I did, I wouldn’t be working out in them.

  3. Picchio

    Spesh RBX are so good to me that I bought six pairs over the past year, have stashed four of them and am rotating the remaining two. No saddles sores — ever — after double centuries is all you need to know.

  4. kosh

    Rapha use the Elastic Interface pads too. You could more or less substitute “Rapha” in this review for “Assos” (and “England” for “Switzerland”) since they’re equally buffed on price/quality/comfort/style. The difference comes more or less down to personal fit (which is worthless to review) and style points (which is completely subjective).

    Personally I have a really hard time navigating the incomprehensible Assos model codes. And if I damage my Rapha kit, I can return it for a free repair – that’s a big deal for me. Also, being British, I think it looks better. So it’s Rapha kit for me. But surely this is like doing Dura-Ace vs Super Record i.e. discussion is guaranteed to be completely polarising…

  5. Troutdreams

    After reading my earlier post, the stench of my own hypocrisy overcame me so it’s time to make it right.. I purchased a $3,000 carbon bike last year and I don’t race.

    And my name’s not really “Troutdreams” but I’ve still made amends.

    My weakness seems to be the mechanical objects of desire. I feed my thrifty side by picking up used jerseys on eBay as needed (bibs, no). The rider in the Assos kit on the 10 yr old bike probably has it right

  6. naisan

    I can’t agree that the assos are the best value for $200.

    I have 6 pairs of various grades of assos bibs which I have regularly worn over 3+ years now, and about the same number of ~$200 castelli bibs with the progetto x2 chammy (i.e. their top of the line aero race and bodyfit bibs).

    I always reach for the castellis with the x2 for longer rides. The assos are my next pick, followed by anything else.

    The castellis have thinner lycra, but in spite of my worry about longevity they have worn just as well as the assos

    The x2 chammy is terrific: the cushioning, wicking, and long-ride comfort is just about perfect for me.

    I also prefer the bodypaint no-seam feel: it’s about like being naked. The assos are more substantial.

    So I can’t agree that they are the best value for the money. They are great value, but not the best, as I can get castelli body paint much cheaper when on sale than assos on sale.

  7. Le Rouleur Lent

    Regarding the chamois: it’s made by CyTech, who supply various brands.

    I found the bibs themselves always problematic, the area above the butt tends to “thin out”, revealing things you probably don’t want to see …

  8. Bike closet

    I’ll admit to having suffered through prostate problems over the last year. My doctor was less useful than Assos for getting me back on the bike. The Mille bib, another $60 past the Uno, was a lifesaver. Having tried both, I’d urge anyone who’s already looking high end to spend the extra money.

  9. Masshoff

    I have the typical Assos story – bought multiple pair of bibs each year, until finding THE ONES. I think what is so remarkable about the Assos bibs is that you just stop noticing them once you are on the bike. And, in my opinion at least, that’s the highest compliment you can give a set of bibs.

    If I had one dislike, it’s the “finish” of the lycra material. I don’t know what the real term is, but the lycra has a sheen that looks like a cheap pair of Nashbar bibs or something. I have some Giordana bibs that have what I would call a more “matte” finish that just looks better to me. This is, of course, completely superfluous to the function of the bibs, but it does irk me when I look down and see that shiny lycra looking back at me.


  10. Author
    Padraig

    Everyone: Thanks for your comments.

    Troutdreams: You’re not a hypocrite. Not by a longshot. But what I often suggest to people when we’re talking high-end cycling clothing is that the demands of said clothing, because you are engaged in a very physical activity, are such that quality pays off in comfort and durability, two features I really want from my cycling clothing. I can purchase a reasonably comfortable dress shirt for $20 and while I can appreciate that a more expensive shirt might fit better and look nicer, the gains in quality will never be as noticeable.

    Naisan: Each to his own, eh? The BodyPaint bib is arguably my least favorite high-end bib, for exactly the reasons you cite for why you like it. Funny.

    A bit of clarification on the pad. CyTech is the manufacturer and Elastic Interface is a series of pads they produce. The pads used in Assos’ various shorts are produced by CyTech to Assos’ spec and not sold to any other clothing producer. It may be that CyTech produces a special pad for Rapha to their spec, but as I haven’t ridden it yet (or asked them about it), I can’t say.

  11. Fat Monte

    Okay. You convinced me. Like Trautdreams, I spent a lot on a bike last year, but it’s hard to justify the expense of top-shelf cycling clothing. My LBS sells Assos and I shall pick up a pair of these bibs.

    Funny, when I got back on the bike last year (after a 15 year break, and a broken hip) I was 235 lbs (down 20 from my all-time high). Since nobody likes a fat man in lycra, I rode in baggy mtb shorts for awhile. But when I took the plunge and bought the carbon bike later in the summer, I bought some bibs.

    And I hated them. Like wearing suspenders too short. I threw them in a drawer and forget them. Of course, the bibs had to reach over my then-protruding stomach. Riding in shorts wasn’t much better, as those wadded up under my belly after a few miles.

    Now, 45 lbs lighter still, I pulled out those bibs and love them. Strange how as your body changes, so does the way cycling clothes feel. (And why it’s important to tweak your bike fit as you go, too.)

    Ya know, come to think of it, maybe I deserve to gift myself with Assos bibs. It took a lot of sweat and pain to get to this point. Now, the question: Do I buy the large, where I’m at now, or the medium, where I’m going to end up?


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Formerly Fat Monte: I say you deserve to do a bit of celebrating now. You’ve come a long way. Enjoy the fruit of your labor, so-to-speak.

  12. Fat Monte

    Not quite “Formerly” yet, Padraig. A six-foot tall roadie in the 190s is still on the fat side of fit. Shooting for the 170s by season’s end. Entering plenty of century+ rides this summer to be sure. Which means, I’m really gonna need those quality bibs!

  13. nick

    this is absurd. Not only are they overpriced, they have the most pretentious and revolting marketing strategy. “Sponsor yourself” is bad enough but all those shots of that douche with a spray tan are just unbearable.

  14. yerma

    I was fortunate to have a mentor for my early racing and riding days who was able to purchase Assos bibs at a discount. This was in 87or 88. The Assos chamois was real leather and with chamois cream these bibs were incredibly comfortable. But the real story was the lycra. It was by far the best quality lycra blend I have ever worn. In fact the bibs would last for 2-3 chamois replacements. If you hit the deck the lycra didn’t even scuff. It was supportive and breathed well. When the Pros Line came it out the lycra was the same but the synthetic chamois tended to get a bit rough after 10K miles!. Fast forward to the first of the F Series with Elastic Interface. Yes, the chamois is amazing but Assos realized that the high quality lycra meant that buyers were wearing the bibs for years. ( I have a 15 year old pair of Pros Line that I still war for under 2 hour rides!) Not a good business plan. So they went to a lycra that is comparable to a $60 pair of bibs. Since that time I’ve not purchased another pair of Assos. At $200-$300 a pop they should be comfortable AND last for years.

  15. Bikelink

    Fat Monte: I’m 5’10” and 160 pounds and wear the size “large” Unos bibs (and yeah, they are the best by far I’ve ever ridden…the Castelli endurance at $180 are just OK but a far cry from the $200 Unos); I’m a M in Champ Sys and CCN (team kits), and perhaps between and M and L in Castelli (I have an L but feels like I could go a touch smaller). I think you may be an XL now, not just an L at 190. This brings up one issue…the Assos ‘size chart’ just gives your height which isn’t that helpful. I chatted with someone at Competitive Cyclist by phone and they suggested the L for me and it feels right. I love the Unos so much I may pop for the Miele next….hard to imagine something feeling better though!

  16. Gasl

    I must agree here, I find myself reaching to the Castelli for my morning rides and for everything longer then that I pick the Assos either the Uno or Mille.
    as much that I like to try new clothing as well as bike parts and other accessories I don’t think I would buy another brand again, they also hold well for very long so at the end of the day the price is not too bad.
    Can’t say the same thing about the Assos jersey’s, $200 for the Mille Jersey is something I don’t really see how that would improve my life in any way…

  17. Malcolm

    My reason for chipping in here is simple: I want everyone out there who rides seriously to listen carefully to what Padraig has said about these shorts and save themselves some time and money. Yes, money. After you’ve been through half a dozen saddles, various seatposts and every other bib short under the sun and possibly even changed to a carbon bike in search of rear end nirvana and still not found comfort, performance and fit then like me, do yourself a favour, go out and buy a pair from your local bike stockist. You will need to try them on (you may need a size larger than your normal size). But hey, I could have saved myself a fortune years ago. Bliss. Some folks learn the hard way.

    And by the way, Assos too provide a customer care and repair service should you fall and ruin your lovely shorts/winter tights/jacket etc. Mine were sent there and back repaired within a week and free of charge! Now how good is that.

    And Padraig, much as I love and learn from all your reviews, you cannot compare these to any car. A car isn’t necessary. These are…

  18. Dave

    I have three pairs of Assos bibs (1 x FI.3, 2 x Mille) that I rotate through. I’ve had one for 2.5 seasons, 1 for 2 seasons, and 1 for one. They are extremely comfortable, super durable, and make me look forward to getting on the saddle every time I put them on. If you pay attention, you can sometimes pick them up for a season ending discount. While I have not tired the Uno, I don’t notice a significant difference in feel or comfort between the FI’s and the Mille’s. In summary, great bibs; worth the money.

  19. Short Legged Rider

    One issue I have with just about every bib manufacturer… the legs are all too long. I don’t care who it is, be it Rapha, Assos, Giordana, Castelli, Icebreaker, Hincapie, etc. — if you’ve got short legs you’re hosed.

    I’m six feet tall and have a ridiculously short inseam of 29 inches. I’m also a chubby bastard with a 38″ waist. Anything that fits my waist (normally a XXL) has an 11.5″ inseam which then runs into the back of my knee. Highly uncomfortable.

    I’d love to try some Assos Milles, Castelli Bodypaints or Giordana Bodyclones… if only I could get a pair that had a 9 inch inseam as opposed to an 11.5 inch inseam.

    Until then, it’s custom for me. I’ll find out in a few weeks if Endo Customs might have a solution for me right here in good ol’ downtown LA. But for now I will merely curse everyone who makes these long-legged solutions. Screw you, long legged freaks! :)

  20. Butzi

    @Short Legged Rider, the Mille comes in two leg lengths now! :)

    I’ve become an Assos addict, thanks to my LBS. I could go on-and-on about their quality, and how I’m willing to pay a premium for it, etc., etc; but all has been said. (have you worn their new “Rain Cap” while riding, in the rain? It’s perfect!)

    I do love Rapha’s fashion design (I use their jerseys), but the cup goes to Assos when it comes to technical design, especially for the bibs.

  21. Lachlan

    I’ve only had one pair of Assos shorts that were anything but near perfection. Rapha are rapidly becoming my favourite(just for marginally better fit for my shape), but they have both always and consistently been head and shoulders above every other short I’d tried.

    Just sad that the real chamois, roubaix Assos bibs that were my first (back some time last century!) are not available anymore. Now that really was pair of shorts!

  22. Mike

    Just ordered on sale Capo Padrone and Craft Elite Attack bibs, perhaps I’ll have to try these out as well. Thanks for pointing them out.

  23. tv_vt

    I have not tried the Uno bibs, but I’ve had a pair of the ‘half-bibs,’ or just plain shorts. The padding was the thickest I’ve ever seen, and took the longest to dry out on the line. But they were comfy. Or so I thought, until I used them for a century and discovered that they really did not come up high enough in back to give my rear full coverage. The end of the chamois was right in the middle of my sit bones. Maybe the bibshort could help with this issue by keeping the pad up higher in back. But I was looking for a hot weather short w/o bibs. These ended up getting sent back to Competitive Cyclist. God bless their 60 day NQA returns policy.

    Still looking for the perfect pair of shorts and bibs. Right now, Louis Garneau NeoPower is my go-to short. Love the feel of that fabric.

  24. Ray

    I must agree with the assessment of the Assos Uno bibs, they are indeed very well made and very plush. I can’t see spending $85 $100, $150 on a product that starts to unravel after only a few washes or just never breaks in and gets comfortable. Like so many folks have already pointed out, spending $$$ for a quality product makes the most sense; better for the environment (won’t be tossing away wornout bibs), better for your pocket book (more bike riding for your buck) and better for you (your derrier will love you). Ciao from Canada.

  25. Eric G

    I can say I have not tried the Assos, but I do love Castelli Bodypaint. I reach for them on any significant ride. Especially in the summer heat of the southeast! Pads are relative to the person. Some people like thick pads some like thin. Just like saddles. I find I am not as sensitive to saddles as others. For recovery rides I like the KISS3 pad in the Nero bibs and knickers I have. Thinner pad but I like it a lot most days. I ride a Fizik Arionne CX saddle and I am fine. Carbon bike, nothing special and brutal streets here in New Orleans! I think I just love the feel of Bodypaints, almost seamless, and you fell naked! LOL

  26. Craig

    My favorite to this point are the Sugoi RSE and RS bibs.
    The may still be made in Canada and not some Communist country.
    Have you guys found the zippers on all expensive jerseys to be to light weight and very weak!
    I have a DeMarchi that was crazy expensive and the zipper is not worth a turd.
    The same with 2 Giordana $180 jerseys I bought.
    So far my favorite for comfort and durability are Team Radio shack jerseys, both are race cut. One is a very light weight material but lasting well so far and the zippers on both are good so far.
    The other expensive jerseys are good for one ride maybe.
    I tried the Assos stuff but was not impressed by anything other than the $$$$$$$$$$

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  28. AK

    I have rapha classics and rapha pro team bib shorts and I love them both. The classic is more of a loose fit and the pro team is as it says ‘pro’ fitting. I’d love to try assos but am not sure which one to buy. I believe the mille is the most upper range available and may fit like rapha classic?


    1. Author
      Padraig

      AK: Of the bibs currently out, the Mille is middle of the range, the all-day bib with the thickest pad. The Fi.13 is the top of the line; they’re reviewed in another post. The new line of Assos bibs will contain four different pairs, but they won’t be available for another couple of weeks/months depending on the model.

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