The skull cap is one of those little essentials that helps to pack out the winter cyclist's wardrobe, and the Assos RoboCap is one that has been on the market since forever. We've got the latest S7 version here and it's really very good, as it bloody well should be for 40 quid!
- Pros: Unobtrusive under a helmet, warm
- Cons: Expensive
Most skull caps are simple, thin, beanie-style hats that just pull down over your head, made of a simple Lycra or fleecy fabric. Assos has gone for a bit more detail here, which goes a little way to justifying that high pricing.
The fabric is a mix of 54% polyamide, 20% polyester and 17% elastane, and it's soft to the touch, with a fleece lining on the inside to trap body heat. It's quite thin, though it does keep you warm and blocks out the worst of the wind chill. It also means it fits comfortably under your helmet with minimal adjustment.
Rarely for a hat, it isn't a one-size-fits-all job; it comes in sizes 0 (48-53cm), I (53-58cm) and II (58-63cm), so a decent range. I had the middle one because my helmet size is 56cm and the fit was fine, close without being tight.
Around the forehead and covering the ears, the fabric is doubled up to protect the most vulnerable areas, which is great for those ice-cold days. The good thing is, the material thickness doesn't affect your hearing levels either.
The seams run internally but they are small and soft so you don't get any irritation there.
Front and rear you get reflective strips that sit just below the rim of your helmet; it's a token gift but hey, every little helps.
Either side you also get two elasticated loops to pass your glasses through. To be honest it's nothing more than a gimmick really, as the arms of most glasses are smaller in diameter than the loops so they aren't really holding anything, plus without the aid of a mirror you're going to struggle to line things up.
Value then, how does it stack up?
Virtually every other skull cap we've tested is at least half the price. Galibier's Dolomiti is just £11.61 plus it does a Thermo + version for just a couple of quid more, which is more like the Assos.
Even Lazer's Genesis Winter Cap, designed to work with its own helmets, is just £19.99, though it does have a few faults.
The Robocap is very good. Insulation is great and you barely notice you are wearing it, but there is no way I'd pay full whack for it. Shop around, though, because you can get it with quite a discount, and it's currently reduced in price to £32 on Assos' own website.
Great at what it does but it's hard to justify the outlay against the competition
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Assos RoboCap
Size tested: I (53-58cm)
Tell us what the product is for
Assos says: "The ideal lightweight cap for cold days, the ASSOS roboCap is close fitting enough to be entirely unobtrusive when worn under a helmet, while it's warm and soft RXQ fabric is double layered around the ears and forehead for crucial cycling protection. This provides targeted insulation while the rest of the cap remains thinner to boost breathability and ensure a tailored fit. Sitting behind the ears, the cycling cap's elastic suspenders ensure a secure grip on your eyewear while reflective detailing adds visibility in low light conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Three sizes available
Reflective detailing front and rear
I should be bang on in the middle of size I and it fitted me spot on.
It's a fair wodge for a skullcap, though it's currently reduced to £32.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I just bunged it in the washing machine with everything else and it came out fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's thin to fit under a helmet and keeps you warm: brief filled.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great for keeping your head and ears warm.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Double the price of most of the competition...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not at full whack.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Assos RoboCap really is a great performing piece of kit and with some great attention to detail. Its performnace doesn't really surpass others I've tried, though, at half the price, so that loses it a point.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
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.