The story of Assos, the world-renowned Swiss cycling kit manufacturer, goes back to 1976, when the company’s founding father, Toni Maier, had the idea for an aerodynamic, carbon, track frame. At the time, carbon was only really being used in the space industry and also somewhat unheard of was the aerodynamic testing that the bike went through. Despite his efforts, Maier was left a little underwhelmed by the results of the tests in the wind-tunnel at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, but what did result from these endeavours was the idea that clothing was where the real aerodynamic gains could be won.
credit: Medium.com / Assos / forToni #ASSOS76
The story goes that Maier identified that the woollen cycling outfit the rider was wearing was producing a significant amount of drag, so he made the rider sit on the bike naked and discovered a huge difference in aerodynamics.
Being Swiss, Maier was naturally a keen skier and in skiing they were already well ahead in terms of using very hi-tech materials in skinsuits and thinking about aerodynamics.
Maier got his rider to wear a skinsuit in the wind tunnel and this is what led to two innovations: the first cycling skinsuit and the first Lycra shorts.
Where Innovation Thrives
Those early experiments set the company's course to this day as Assos are a company synonymous with innovation, quality and performance, famed particularly for their shorts.
Over the years their designers have pioneered new fabrics, technologies and approaches to cycling apparel which has paved the way for other brands to follow.
The ALS (Assos Layering System) is a prime example of this – every product has been perfectly designed and tailored to fit together like pieces of a puzzle, to maximise the efficiency of the clothing and limit the thermoregulation demands on the rider.
Blending stereotypical Swiss precision with Italian passion, Assos continue to push boundaries and pioneer cycling clothing. From exclusive textiles to radical constructions, bold, experimental design remains critical to the Assos method.
The Assos range explained
Assos has essentially developed two ranges (‘Total Comfort’ and ‘Race’) offering complementary fits for racers and enthusiasts alike. The key technologies are the same, the difference lies predominantly in the fit.
Total Comfort consists of the MILLE GT and UMA GT ranges, Mille for men, Uma for women. Total comfort is geared towards the ‘everyday rider’ looking for as much comfort as possible. It is still undoubtedly a performance range, but with a more forgiving ‘regular’ fit it’s designed so you can enjoy long days in the saddle.
The EQUIPE RS and DYORA RS for men and women respectively, make up the Race Series. This range is designed to give every last ounce of performance to the race focused cyclist. A closer fitting, second-skin, aerodynamic clothing range that is optimised for high output.
Both ranges are split into Summer (1/3), Spring/Fall (2/3) and Winter (3/3) and the design details are colour coordinated to identify this. White = Summer, Yellow = Spring/Fall and Blue = Winter. The accessories, or ASOSSOIRES as the company calls them, are universal and designed to complement either GT or RS ranges.
Assos naming conventions
Another thing to consider is 'Cento' is tailored for the slimFit cycling body type and 'Mille' for the more robust, regular fit athletic body type.
Each name also provides a precise shorthand description of the product. Thus the “_S7” suffix is applied to all series 7 garments while the “SS” prefix designates a short sleeve jersey and “T” bibshorts.
Some more historic naming conventions include: Summer: shaSha, Spring/Fall: tiBuru, Early Winter: haBu and Winter: bonKa.
Equipment, not clothing
Whether it's developing their own textiles, stress-testing prototypes with WorldTour athletes, or refining a product over the course of several years, the merging of total comfort and technical performance remains the brands core focus.
Assos employs two key tag lines: "Sponsor Yourself" and "Suffer in Comfort." The former is a nod to the premium price point, while the latter is an ode to its superior chamois.
Assos proves that thinking differently can have intriguing results, whether it be the first carbon bicycle or the creation of the Kuku Penthouse (Google it). They seem acutely aware that cycling is constantly changing and ensure that their kit does the same.