Needing the loo when out on a ride for us girls is a bit of an annoyance and can often cause unnecessarily long mid-ride stops when trying to remove a hundred different jackets, jerseys and other winter layers! Imagine a world without this hassle, a world where weak-bladdered individuals can ride in peace. Many brands have previously attempted to eliminate this struggle using other techniques, like a singular front clip or a zip at the rear. This actually isn’t the first version of Assos’ clip bib shorts – the T.LaalalaiShorts_S7 were the first edition. The company has since changed from one clip to two clips at the rear and says, "the textile was also improved, shedding grams and gaining permanent odor-control and active cooling". Being a major part of its new Unlock Possible collection, the UMA GTV Bib shorts really stand out from the crowd.
The Swiss developed company Assos is a classic go-to on the road cycling scene but now, with a large movement in cycling towards off-road gravel biking, Assos is keeping up with the trends and catering for all. Designing the bulk of its kit in the Assos Lab, it ensures premium levels of comfort and body-shaping technology on pretty much all of its collections.
With an X-frame being the main feature on the shorts, these have been designed to aid comfort on ultra-rides, especially over bumpy terrain; the X-frame holds the lower back tight without digging into the shoulders. A new Assos-created Bisiclick system helps to prevent any unintentional unclasping of the rear clips, as well as being positioned to stick out below the jersey in order to not remove any extra layers when nature calls. Like a lot of the best gravel biking bib shorts nowadays, they can be expected to come at a large expense – whether they're worth it or not comes down to personal opinion.
Design and Specifications
This pair of shorts has clearly been in the lab for a while – Assos has managed to incorporate all of its game-changing technologies into them. To start, what is this Bisiclick technology I keep mentioning? The Bisiclick twin magnetic closures anchor the X-frame lower bib straps and are the clasps that are used to release the bibs. The magnetism of the clips helps a fast connection, however is secure enough to prevent any unintentional unclasping. Connecting to the X-frame, which is the rear straps of the bibs, its design limits any vertical stretch across the lower back and stabilises the main body panel. The upper part of the X-frame is a slightly less compressive fit, which sits comfortably over the shoulders and stretches to fit individual shape.
One of the new features to Assos kit is the fabric used: Ossidia fabric is lighter yet more compressive than previous editions. It’s a proprietary textile created from ultra-thin and highly elastic yarns. With UV protection (UPF 50+), active cooling and speciality odor control all incorporated into the material (rather than applied on top as a treatment), it is well equipped for long days in the saddle. Additionally, a carefully designed “Zero-pressure” waist (using a sheen mesh) extended around the stomach/waist, aids comfort when deep breathing during intense riding or aggressively low riding styles. Intelligent compression and streamlined performance are two of Assos’ major standouts. By using Ossidia fabric, the silk-like material acts as a second skin – according to Assos, “smoothly compressing large muscles for maximum hold and fatigue reduction”.
For once, the pockets on the shorts aren't the biggest selling point of a pair of gravel bibs. Despite the four small (gel/bar-sized) mesh pockets on each thigh being super useful and allowing for extra jersey pocket space, they aren’t anything special. A necessity for a good pair of shorts is having a chamois that can accommodate comfort over long periods of time in the saddle. Assos uses a 3D waffle formula, which is three layers of perforated microshock foam to build a thick 9mm chamois. The flat-lock stitching around the chamois doesn't follow the complete outline of the foam and leaves sections unstitched which allows for superior breathability when on the move.
Since receiving these, I have worn them on every long training ride and can safely say they are some of my favorite shorts I’ve worn over long distances. Not only is the handiness of the Bisiclick quick-release system a major plus in any woman's book, but the fact that it’s very tricky to accidentally unclip eliminates any stressors of let's say ‘unwanted exposure!’. It did take me some frustrating attempts to get used to the attachment and unattachment of the Bisiclick. It's initially a little fiddly to do but after a few rides I got the knack of it. My only other quibble with the X-frame and Bisiclick systems are that it sticks out from the bottom of a jersey, which can ruin the aesthetics of the kit or, as I have found, can easily be caught on things if sat down or leaning against something.
The chamois obviously plays a large role as to whether a pair of shorts are acceptable to wear on big days, and this chamois is unlike any shorts I've ever ridden in. A soft 'Goldengate' top layer works incredibly well with the Assos own brand Chamois Crème, as it doesn't get absorbed by the chamois immediately. The first thing I noticed about the shorts was that the chamois was not sewn on the full way round the foam and I could lift the chamois up then pass a hand underneath. This confused me at first, thinking it could be defected, but I now understand this had been done specifically to allow for natural cooling and breathability. A very clever and effective feature which I think more companies should invest in.
Once again, mesh thigh pockets are always a useful addition to any bib shorts, and these fitted snacks and gels perfectly, but are not quite safe enough for a phone. Initially I figured the sizing of the shorts came up rather small but after squeezing into them, I appreciate they are only tight due to the intuitive muscle compressing technology and, once on, the size was perfect (no see-through material here!). However, as someone with strong thighs, I did find that the thigh grippers were quite uncomfortably tight on me and are yet to loosen up with use. They aren’t the sort of shorts I would wear leg warmers with as there may be too much compression.
If you’re looking for a cheap pair of easy-loo access shorts I would suggest alternatives like the Dare2b AEP Breakaway bibs or the DHB Aeron Pro Halterneck Bib Short, both coming in at around £60. Despite the Assos UMAs being a rather pricey pair of shorts, you have to remember that not only do you get easy nature breaks but also an array of non-visible additions that only become apparent whilst on the bike, eg, zero-pressure stomach material, UPF 50 and odor control.
On the whole I think that you pay for what you get with these shorts. Assos has used some impressive new technology to curate a comfortable, streamlined and power-efficient pair of shorts for performance athletes. The Bisiclick system is as good as it's made out to be and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more brands recreating their own versions in the coming years. Not only this but buying through Assos' website, gives you a 2-year warranty, free returns (in 30 days) and a crash policy for if your kit gets ruined in a crash.
Tech specs: Assos UMA GTV bib shorts C2
- Price: $280 / £215 / €250
- Materials: 80% PA 20% EA
- Additions: 2-year warranty, Crash policy, Free returns
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XLG
- Color: Black