The Assos T.FF_1Shorts_S7 bibshorts are the pinnacle of the Swiss company's collaboration with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team, the FF_1 capsule collection. With new fabric designs alongside some already used by Assos on its other top flight shorts, the T.FF_1s are a real technical exercise in what has become of the humble cycling shorts. They come with a massive price tag, but they are the most comfortable bib shorts I've ever worn.
If you're interested in giving these Assos bib shorts a go, the first thing I'd recommend is sitting on a bike as soon as you put them on, before you decide whether you like the fit or not. Why? If your experience is anything like mine then first impressions won't be all that pleasurable.
You see, like a lot of really top end cycle clothing, the T.FF_1s are cut to fit without compromise in the riding position, so when you first put them on and stand up, they pull and stretch in all sorts of directions, making them feel, well, just wrong. Once on the bike, though, everything makes sense. You don't get any bunching or pressure points anywhere and they feel like they are made to measure.
Assos has used its TypeA.444 ergoKompressor fabric throughout, which has a kind of rubberised feel to it and impressive compression properties. It can make them a little tricky to get on, as you have to inch them up your thighs, but once in position they feel very supportive around your muscles.
There is conflicting evidence out there on compression clothing and its benefits to muscle performance and repair, but I've always found it to work, speeding up recovery especially. The T.FF_1s certainly felt as though they reduced muscle fatigue on long rides.
For the stomach area Assos has used a new fabric which it calls Type.490; it's much thinner and softer than the rest of the shorts, meaning plenty of comfort when you're crouched over on the bike. The material is finished with a piece of silicone tape so it fits flush against the skin and aids comfort.
You get more silicone on the leg grippers, albeit very little, although with the compression material they rarely moved up my thighs
The TT.F_1s use a mesh back panel for the bibs with two Lycra straps from shoulder to stomach, all of which is perfectly comfortable in use, with no pressure points or anything. The straps themselves actually have little rubber loops sewn in for holding your glasses while you climb that hot mountain pass, with your unzipped jersey flapping in the breeze.
Assos, like many others, uses Cytech Elastic Interface chamois pads, Assos say their pad is different from everybody else's Elastic Interface chamois pad and that Cytech only make their pad for them. I've used a fair few other manufacturer's high end Cytech Elastic Interface pads and they were all good. This is a good pad too a very good pad, Assos reckon it took four years of research to develop. That may well be the case but whatever extra special ingredients the pad is made from on first inspection at least it's a very simple construction of a couple of foam cutouts and a central channel to relieve pressure.
The masterstroke Assos plays, though, is to only stitch the pad to the shorts front and rear, which it calls goldenGate technology. It means the pad can float about as you go through the pedalling motion due to not being fixed into position, a hammock for your bits, if you like.
It makes a massive difference to long-term comfort and for me is what makes the TT.F_1s the most comfortable shorts I've used. In fact, the day before I had to go out for a long ride I'd ridden in a pair of shorts that weren't quite so forgiving, as in I'd lost a lot of skin. I put the Assos shorts on, not really relishing the idea of sitting on a saddle again, only to find that I didn't feel any discomfort at all, the pad moving with me as designed, causing no rubbing or irritation.
So, then, £210 for a pair of bib shorts...
Yes, they are very comfortable, but you get the same pad and stitching pattern on the much cheaper t.worksteamshortss7 that Dave tested the other day, so I could get round that.
The materials used are every good, as is the fit, but I've used other shorts, again with similar attributes, for 50 quid or so less.
They are very durable, with not the slightest mark on them from contact with the saddle, plus if you give the stitches a sharp tug you find they are damn tight. At least you won't have to save them for special-rides-only to make them last.
Overall, if you brush all the Formula 1 marketing spiel aside, the Assos TT.F_1s are a very good pair of shorts with comfort that is tough to beat, but I just can't get my head around that price tag; I just don't think they are quite worth it. They are also only available with the Mercedes Petronas branding, which, if you're not a Formula 1 fan, might be a little offputting.
So sublimely comfortable, the only thing to make your eyes water will be the price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Assos T.FF1Shorts_s7
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Assos says, "As part of our collaboration with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 team we have created the FF_1 capsule collection. These shorts have been specifically designed to leverage and surpass the groundbreaking technology used in both our Campionissimo and Equipe S7 generation of shorts, to create what we believe is the perfect union of our passion for bikes and cars. Taking the performance gains of our TypeA.444 ergoKompressor fabric used in our Campionissimo shorts and matching it with the Royal Comfort of the Equipe insert, we have created a racing-cut pair of shorts that rival the engineering seen in the most technologically advanced motorsport in the world, Formula 1, making them something for the true racer."
I'm not sure about the "rival the engineering seen in the most technologically advanced motorsport in the world, Formula 1" part, but they are a damn fine pair of shorts though.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From the Assos website:
TECHNOLOGICAL ENGINEERING – Taking the best of both our T.equipe_S7 and T.campionissimo_S7 and pairing this with some exciting new features, these shorts represent the next level in comfort and performance.
THE CONSTRUCTION – These shorts are not simply a mix of the T.equipe_S7 and T.campionissimo_S7. They have numerous specific details that deliver increased comfort and crucial design aspects that increase performance, all added as part of our collaboration with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 team
Leveraging the performance gains seen in our T.campionissimo_S7 shorts, we have used our TypeA.444 ergoKompressor fabric throughout these shorts. The resulting feeling of compression and performance is unmatched.
1. We have introduced our new Type.490 fabric in the front panel. It's highly elastic, low volume and quick drying to maximize your riding comfort.
2. In addition, this front panel has a raw cut that has been refined with an external silicon tape, eliminating any possible friction against the edge of this panel.
3. For increased comfort we have used the insert from our T.equipe_S7 short, which is a favourite among the riders on our Equipe Exploit racing team. It gives you S7 generation Royal Comfort to allow you to suffer in comfort.
4. At the rear of the insert we have added our rear terminal technology to make the construction even more robust, while increasing comfort by protecting the shorts from possible abrasion against the seams.
5. Coming in our racing cut and taking the feedback from our test team riders, we have cut the legs of these shorts 1 cm longer than the other ones in our S7 generation, making them the ultimate choice of the true racer.
6. Building on our collaboration with MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, we have created a special design for the mesh rear of these shorts, capturing our passion for both bikes and cars.
Assos specifies its sizing for shorts purely on height so it's hard to gauge sizing for waist. The medium, of which I'm at the top level height-wise, were fine. The compressive nature of the material provides the fit.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
30 degree wash with nothing added, say the instructions, and they wash up fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Beautifully comfortable bib shorts once you are on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The 'floating' chamois.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
As far as comfort goes, I don't think I've worn anything better, they really are that good, which is why I've scored them 10/10 for comfort, and performance. But their price is extreme, and has to affect the overall score; if you can afford them – and you like the Mercedes F1 branding, an acquired taste – think of them as a five-star product. For me, though, they lose a couple of marks for the price tag and styling.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.