Assos has created a superior performing garment with the HK.laalalaiKnickers_s7 Lady; they're perfect for those days when shorts are not enough but full tights are too much.
So often it is just a little bit too cool to be wearing just shorts; I value my knees and don't like them to be exposed to cool air too much. That said, a pair of tights, or even leg warmers, can result in overheating. Assos' HK.laalalai Knickers address this common scenario, eliminating the need to carry knee warmers and then debate whether or not it's warm/cold enough to need them...
The knickers boast Assos' innovative S7 insert. It says the chamois 'has been designed to improve freedom of movement in the most sensitive areas'. It is certainly an unusual design, consisting of a dense female-specific-cut foam pad covered by a 'waffle-like' perforated insert. This is stitched into the knickers with openings (that is to say, there is no chamois edge stiching) at the sides, front, and rear. These 'openings' facilitate a healthy breathability and faster drying when washed, as well as offering the claimed freedom of movement.
The result of all this creativity and technology is a smooth and comfortable ride. It's one of the most comfortable pads I have used for a long time. When moving about on the bike, in and out of the saddle, the chamois never felt rigid or abrasive at any point on the skin. It's also showing no signs of losing its supportive features with washing.
Elsewhere, the fit around the midriff is snug without being restrictive. An elasticated lower back panel sits firmly in place thanks to some small internal rubber strips that grip to any undergarment. The frontal panel is equally as stretchy, though in a softer material, which eliminates any potential discomfort. This frontal panel is minimal, and if walking and moving around off the bike then my undervest was soon visible between the knickers and a jersey. This was a little frustrating, but given the comfort offered on the bike by the lower cut I was happy to accept this minor shortcoming.
The knickers offer significant support along the length of the leg, not unlike compression wear that I might have used when racing. It certainly justifies Assos' claim of striking 'the balance between comfort and compression for superior performance'. The knickers stay firmly in place below the knee thanks to the coupling of an elasticated banding and an interior rubbery grip strip. This combination was spot on, comfortable and leaving no trace of marks on the skin post-ride. Behind the knee is a soft, stretchy, breathable fabric which doesn't irritate or encourage any form of sweating.
In terms of value, £150 certainly isn't cheap, but it's in the ballpark for other high-end garments – the same price as Rapha's 3/4 Tights. They're high quality, beautifully comfortable, and you're getting shorts and knee warmers in one... You do need to treat them with care to keep them looking good, though, as they snag easily.
In contrast to the functional, high-performing features, Assos has opted for simple aesthetics: aside from small logos and two effective reflective tabs on the rear leg seams, the knickers are plain black. They have a stylish, understated look that I think many riders will be very happy with.
Classy and high performing piece of kit that is perfect for cooler summer/autumn riding
road.cc test report
Make and model: Assos HK.laalalaiKnickers_s7 Lady
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: "Taking all of the developments found in the H.laalaLaiShorts_S7 we have developed a new lower leg to give you the optimal knickers for those cooler summer days or spring/fall conditions. Leveraging the benefits of the S7 insert platform, these knickers really do bring you to higher levels of comfort and performance."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
WHAT IS IT?
Using our S7 generation of shorts as a platform, we have created knickers that give you a new generation of comfort for those slightly cooler days.
Summer or spring/fall
HOW TO USE IT
Designed for those cooler times in the summer months, these knickers work perfectly with all our products in this climaRange. Paired with a spring/fall skinFoil, these knickers are also ideal for cooler days when full length tights are just too hot. Used next to your skin, these give you S7 generation comfort in female-specific knickers.
Taking the performance and comfort of the H.laalaLaiShorts_S7 and turning them into knickers for cooler weather is at the heart of this product. A new design on the lower leg optimizes the fit, giving more comfort and better performance. And making them with our type.439 material brings them to a new level of overall comfort. As well, the added compression of this material will help your performance on the bike.
_ New pattern for the cut of the lower leg to increase the comfort and fit of these knickers
_ Using all of the innovations found in our H.laalaLaiShorts_S7, these bring you all the comfort of the S7 platform
_ All new S7 generation insert brings you to the next level of performance on the bike
_ Made with our type.439 material, these knickers strike the balance between comfort and compression for superior performance
The knickers were easily snagged and showed signs of wear, though it didn't affect their functionality.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Following the manufacturers instructions the product washed well and dried out quicker than some other cycle shorts thanks to the insert openings.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Not having to carry knee warmers! I found the HK.laalalaiKnickers_s7 Lady perfect for the mild days when I'd normally have pulled on knee warmers and perhaps felt slightly overdressed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A low-cut front for comfort on the bike meant that off the bike there was a gap between the top of the knickers and the bottom of a jersey.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Although pricey, the knickers are amazingly comfortable and function exceptionally well. You could also argue that they're two pieces of kit in one – shorts and knee warmers – so the expense is sort of justified... I'd easily give them full marks for their exceptional comfort, even with their price tag, but for that money I'd expect them to be looking pristine for longer, and they do snag easily.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding