2008 Assos Six Day Kit
The Six Day Kit has the two hallmarks of Assos: great production and execution. For some time, we've been singing the praises of Assos packaging, but here is one of the few times when the packaging really helps. The glossy box measures 36cm x 22.5cm x 5.5cm. On the top is a great high-contrast black-and-white action shot of a track racer seemingly ripping through the apex of the banking, wearing an Assos Six-Day jersey. The image is both classic and modern at the same time, recalling both the glory days of track racing and showing what makes the appeal of the sport timeless. It's a great gift box, one that we'd happily reuse or re-gift. But the inside is really what everyone wants to see. The box is sectioned like a TV dinner and there's a surprisingly thick book that comes with a matching set of cycling clothing; a jersey, a cycling cap, and a pair of socks. There's a feeling that you're a hot racing prospect who has just signed his first six-day contract and is being given both a handbook and the tools necessary to race.
Since we're not racing the six-day circuit, we imagine that this jersey probably looks best while we're doing a Merckxian high-cadence drill on our rollers in a basement with our effort lit by a single incandescent bulb. There's a towel on our stem, and the matching cap is soaked through with sweat. We like the look. The numbers on the Six Day jersey have a Nascar vibe and we appreciate the cheeky humor of Assos' design people who like to incorporate "sponsor yourself," and "Have a good ride!" into the design. They also have a meerkat named Sury depicted on the left pocket. Sury is the Assos mascot and is a tough, fit, complex carbohydrate-ingesting animal, much like humans.
The jersey itself is Assos' established SS Uno design, with lightweight, stretchy front and rear panels, as well as Lycra short sleeves and mesh pit vents. The main body material is Plasma Textile, which stretches and wicks. As we've experienced with all other Assos wear, while we normally take a small jersey, we size up to a medium, and it fits great.
We started testing the kit out in the early fall. We thought we might be annoyed by the Lycra sleeves, as they probably wouldn't breathe as well as the material on the rest of the jersey. We were wrong. On warm days and cool days alike, we didn't notice the material being a hindrance in any way. It could be that the mesh underarm panels, one on the sleeve, one on the jersey, help on this front. The material stretches, but stretches much less on the vertical plane than it does the horizontal. This feature keeps the jersey snug without making it possible for the pockets to bounce around when out of the saddle. The rear gripper material, stitched to the outside of the rear hem, feels more three-dimensional than the typical short gripper. The rubbery thread felt on the inside feels like it should grip shorts well. Whether or not it does the job, or the overall design keeps the jersey in place, we don't know, but the result works.
While they're small things, a number of the accessories built into the jersey are pretty nice. The zippered pocket sewn into the right pocket is great for keys, a few bills, and ID, though the iPod crowd will love that the pocket has a small opening to allow the earphone wires to run up the inside of the jersey and out over the collar. There are two small reflective tabs sewn into the side hems just above the pockets. There's a reflective zipper dock at the bottom of the zip to protect the shorts from abrasions.
The socks disappoint us just a smidge. On the one hand, they're just socks. All they need to do is wick a little and prevent chafing. On the other hand, Assos does such an amazing job with just about every item they produce, it's hard to believe they'd let these socks out of the factory unless they could show Capoforma a thing or two about fabricating socks. Here, they don't. While the top is mesh, the cuff short, and the design looks like Assos, these socks don't blow our other socks away. Yes, the racing-stripe design coordinates perfectly with the jersey and cap and is very Speed Racer, and has a great admonition atop the foot, "Have a good ride!" but the socks aren't as cool as Capoforma and the bright white of the new sock disappears after only a few washings. Even the admonition is a sign of less-than-perfect execution. "Have a good ride!" faces away from the body rather than towards. We think that the wearer of the sock should be able to read, "Have a good ride!" instead of the person facing them.
The cap on the other hand, is great. As with socks, there's really very little that makes a good cap. Most good cycling caps are alike, while the bad ones have many ways of failing the measure. The biggest thing the cap has going for it is size. Literally. We like caps that cover more of the head rather than less. It's been our experience that many American-made caps are small and the design is that of an extended skullcap. Euro cycling caps are deeper. They can stay on your head without being pulled snug. This is good for both styling and riding. Riding this means that the cap, when backwards, catches more sweat off your brow, and when forwards, keeps more of the head warm when worn under a helmet.
The book is icing on the cake. Conceived by Roche Maier, the CEO of Assos. The book gives a flavor of six-day bicycle racing. Called "Welcome to the mythical world of the Six-Days!" it is an English-language primer and photo essay on the essence of the sport. Text is combined with images from the Horton collection as well as antique posters and contemporary photojournalism. In addition, there are sumptuous photos of all the Six-Day kits in the collection and practical advice on caring for Assos clothing. The one recommendation we can't see ourselves doing is washing white socks separately to keep the white bright. Maybe that's why ours lost their whiteness so quickly -- but getting so anal with the wash seems exhausting to us!
The jersey is the heart of this kit and it is a more striking look to us than the standard SS Uno. We enjoy yellow jerseys, but don't like having ours compared to THE maillot jaune. This is racy without being too pro team. The rest is gravy. Such is the life of sponsoring ourselves. Occasionally, we throw some swag in with the product.