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The Assos Summer NS Skin Layer is a light, very breathable and very absorbent baselayer that helps make indoor riding a little more comfortable. It's very well made, too, though it is quite expensive.
With indoor cycling becoming increasingly popular, the humble summer baselayer can be a year-round, multi-purpose garment. The benefits it brings on a hot summer day – helping to wick away sweat from your skin and to regulate your body and skin temperature – are also valuable when riding indoors.
As it's the middle of winter, I have only used the Summer NS (no sleeves) baselayer while training and racing on a bike indoors. In some respects this is a tougher ask for the garment, as it has to deal with more perspiration than on even the hottest of summer days.
The fabric feels a little thicker than some of the very lightest almost see-through mesh baselayers that are available, although Assos claims this new version is 30 per cent lighter than the previous Skinfoil one. The fabric is very soft and comfortable, the seams unnoticeable, and nothing caused any itching or irritation.
Although a little thicker, it doesn't feel any hotter than minimal mesh baselayers, even on milder days inside and at maximum effort. The benefit of the thicker material is that it seems to wick away and absorb more sweat, and after longer, tougher sessions I seemed to have less sweat to mop up off the floor than when wearing other baselayers.
I don't think it provides better heat management, though, and whether the extra sweat-holding capacity is a good thing might depend on how you train or ride. I certainly found myself getting cold very quickly after stopping if I didn't remove it straight away. Outside, in the summer, the effect is likely to be similar but less pronounced, as the air temperature will be higher than the unheated environment where I ride indoors.
The fit is typical for Assos – it's reasonably slim, although there is plenty of stretch in the fabric. It sizes up exactly as suggested on the website using the fit calculator.
The baselayer is available in four sizes, which Assos labels as 0 through to III on the website, although in the garment itself the sizes are written out in words, with the Medium tested translating to size I.
The construction is very good – as you would hope for the price – with stitching that seems very durable, and there are no signs of fraying or any small rips forming, which can happen with mesh layers. For anyone who trains indoors frequently, it will likely be washed repeatedly, but the quality of the construction will withstand it.
As well as this sleeveless option, Assos also produces a short sleeved (SS) version, which is priced at £60. If I were only using it indoors, that would be my preference, but for year-round use, outdoors in summer and indoors for winter training, the sleeveless is probably more versatile.
Fifty quid for a lightweight sleeveless baselayer isn't cheap, but there are a few that'll make a bigger dent in your savings: Velocio's Radiator has gone down slightly since Jamie tested it last year but it's still £53, while Alé's Summer Mesh baselayer is £55, and Castelli's Pro Mesh is now £60.
An increasing number of companies are producing indoor-specific clothing now, such as Castelli's Insider range and the Le Col x Wahoo garments, and if you only ride indoors then these might be worth a look.
While it's not cheap, the Assos Summer NS is very well made and high quality, and I have no doubt that even with constant heavy use, so long as it is cared for and washed as recommended, it'll last.
Go back a few years and a sleeveless base layer would never have been classed as a year-round item of clothing, but the Assos Summer NS is one that should keep you as comfortable as possible both indoors and out when things get sweaty.
Very absorbent, with a comfortable soft feel next to the skin
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Assos Summer NS Skin Layer
Size tested: 1
Tell us what the product is for
Assos says: 'The Summer NS Skin Layer serves as your first line of defense during the hottest days of the year, managing moisture, regulating temperature, and keeping your body cool with its ultralight yarns and seamless design.
'Unassuming, hidden from view, and working overtime to keep your core temperature regulated at all times. The humble summer first layer is often an afterthought, but we take it seriously, constantly refining its composition and silhouette to ensure it keeps you comfortable during the balmiest days of the year.
'Starting with the numbers, The NS Skin Layer is nearly 30% lighter than its Skinfoil predecessor. The Circular Seamless construction is free of any irritating side seams, creating a uniform tubular knit that's ultrasoft against the skin. A new blend of carbon and polypropylene yarns are now used, managing moisture much better than previous iterations. The result is an ultralight, breathable, antibacterial first layer that keeps your core as cool and dry as possible.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Circular Seamless: A tubular knit technology that's free of side seams, creating an ultrasoft, comfortable feel against the body.
Composition: 97% polypropylene, 3% carbon fiber
Composition: 97%PP 3%CF
Excellent seams, a little thicker than a mesh style but should prove more wear resistant.
Wicks sweat away well and manages heat on a par with other good summer baselayers. The extra moisture holding I found did make it colder very quickly after stopping.
Early days, but no problems so far and quality is good, so I think it will last.
Comfortable and in keeping with the fit calculator that Assos has on the website. The difference in sizes is a little confusing though: 0-III on the website, but lettering on garments.
Sub-50g is light, but mesh baselayers are often a few grams lighter.
Very good. No itching or any irritating bits that protrude.
It's at the expensive end of the market, but it's not alone.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems at all, despite being washed at least 20 times. Washed at 30 degrees, as with most other cycling garments: no shrinkage, no rips, wear or fading.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It wicks away sweat from the skin really well. Used indoors it works well. The only issue I found was after stopping: when cooling down, the extra moisture retained made it feel cold very quickly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The soft feel and comfort are better than any mesh style baselayer I have used.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It gets cold quickly after stopping.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You can find a number of very good sleeveless baselayers for around £35, including the Chapeau Mesh and Stolen Goat Voltage, but you can also pay more – Castelli's Pro Mesh is £60.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd probably go for the short sleeved version.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It works well for indoor riding – there seemed to be less sweat to mop up after use than with other baselayers I have used, suggesting it holds more moisture – but it does get cold soon after stopping. The quality is high – almost every mesh-style baselayer I have has small tears or rips, whereas the Assos seems more durable – but so is the price. Overall, I'd say it's good.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
Matt is an endurance nut who loves big rides and big events. He's a former full-time racer and 24hr event specialist, but now is also happy riding off-road on gravel bikes or XC mountain bikes and exploring the mountains and hills of Mid Wales.