We’ve just received the brand new Assos Equipe RS (or SchlossHund to give it its full name) rain jacket in the office for testing, a £255 lightweight, packable, waterproof shell jacket that the Swiss company boldly says “delivers the ultimate waterproof performance”.
Hands up who likes cycling in the rain? Not many of you I bet, but sometimes riding in the rain is hard to avoid, either because the alternative is the indoor trainer or no riding at all. And sometimes you’re just going to get caught out with some changeable weather. Being prepared with a suitable rain jacket is essential at this time of year.
Rain jackets of old weren’t much cop though. The boil in the bag phrase that is so often used by cycling product reviewers came about because although making a jacket waterproof is easy, making one that is also breathable and didn’t saturate you in your own sweat was the really tricky bit. Many tried and many failed.
Fortunately, there has been some significant progress recently, and we’re reaching a point where you can now buy a rain jacket that will keep you dry and still provide ample breathability so you don’t boil in the bag. And actually want to face the rain because, at last, you have a jacket that lets you ride through rain without getting soaked or overheated. I’m talking in particular about the new Gore Shakedry fabric being used by several brands like 7Mesh and Castelli, and Sportful’s redesigned Stelvio jacket
Joining the party is the new Equipe RS. The new jacket has been extensively tested with the BMC Racing Team and utilises a Schloss Tex fabric (Assos develops all its own fabrics) that helps to keep the weight down. Assos claims 170g, the size medium pictured comes in at 187g on our scales. While not the lightest rain jacket when compared to the Gore, it’s still impressively light and much lighter than the heavier duty sturmPrinz jacket that has been in the Assos range for a while.
The Schloss fabric that Assos has developed features a 3-layer construction with a hydrophilic membrane and DWR (durable water repellency) treating. The fabric has some stretch which helps with the fit, and it's claimed to offer excellent abrasion resistance as well, something that can’t be said of Gore’s uber thin Shakedry fabric.
An ergonomic cut provides a close fit and Assos has really tried to minimise the number of panels and seams. All seams are taped and there’s a waterproof zipper, with a very large tab puller and a neat plastic backer that should make getting the jacket on and off a bit easier when on the move. Around the waist is a silicone lined elastic band to stop the jacket riding up.
There are no pockets but there are two large rear flaps that double up as vents and also provide easy access to jersey pockets underneath. In the office test, they work quite well, but the true test is on the bike and how easy it is to retrieve some food while on the move. The rear of the jacket is dropped for extra protection.
To improve the fit, and this is based on that BMC team feedback, stretchy inserts have been added to the cuffs to ensure the jacket is easier to get on and off, especially if also wearing gloves as you most likely will be if riding in the rain.
One useful consideration for non-racing cyclists includes a large reflective stripe. That and the bright Lollired colour should ensure you stand out on the roads. What do you think of the colour? It’s been a bit marmite in the office, but there’s no denying it’s bolder than the grey Shakedry jackets.
Assos says that as well as obviously protecting you from the rain, it can also be used as an insulator shell over a spring/summer outfit or protection from the wind on long descents or when warming up at the start of a ride.
The Equipe RS jacket costs £255 and is available in size sizes from XS to XXL. Check out www.assos.com for more info. And here's a nice little video showing the new jacket in use.
Full review coming soon...
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.