Given its homebase in Switzerland, a country typically defined by its mountainous landscape, it's no surprise that Assos eventually saw fit to enter the mountain bike clothing market. Of course, it does so with a reputation as the company for high-end road clothing, so it's also no surprise that the H.rallyBoxer_S7 Men's Liner Shorts incorporate elements from the same shorts that earned Assos the reputation as "the bike shorts company." Some mountain kit manufacturers assume that baggy shorts and knobby tires mean lo-fi will fly, so they phone it in, tech-wise. But anyone familiar with Assos' road offerings will be in for one more non-surprise: Assos doesn't.
The shorts feature a lighter version of the compressive material used throughout the S7 line, so they provide soft, breathable comfort beneath whatever baggies you choose to where them with—though Assos purists will likely want to pair them with the H.rallycargoShort. With the exception of the seams, which are external, and the pockets for padding, which is removable, the H.rallyBoxer largely takes design cues from the road-specific Mille shorts. These include the confidence of a stay-in-place waistband and the cushion of Assos' endurance-minded Mille chamois. Assos being Assos, the latter of which is obviously the key feature.
As with all of the S7 collection, the Mille chamois wears the new amethyst color. According to Assos, this purple hue was chosen to pay homage to the clothing of Roman emperors, English monarchs, and members of Japanese aristocracy, as the historically-significant color highlights what it calls the "most technically advanced cycling shorts on Earth."
In practice, this lofty goal starts with an 8mm-thick memoryFoam material cut into two pads shaped to support your sit bones. This foam was first introduced with the venerable _s2 FI.13, as its material properties let it compress and immediately return, effectively filling the gaps created between body and chamois throughout the pedal stroke or while shifting in the saddle The memoryFoam isn't a homogenous material; rather, and in true Assos form, it's a complex gestalt of myriad materials. The first two layers are the brand's superAir and waffle composition, which provide perforated padding that increases breathability and to shed weight. This layer is responsible for the dimpling that shows through the ultra-soft amethyst top sheet. The combined effect pulls moisture from within the layers below and lets the chamois dry much quicker than the previous _s5 chamois.
Once Assos got the chamois layup to its standards, the engineers began rethinking the way a traditional chamois is attached to the shorts. This led them to what they are calling the "goldenGate," which involves interrupting the stitching along both of the chamois' side panels, allowing a more "three-dimensional" freedom of movement in this sensitive, rotational area. Additionally, because the seams are eliminated, friction is minimized even further. But if that weren't enough, Assos went ahead and extended the chamois' thinly-padded sides over this short-to-chamois junction, making the transition against your skin as smooth as possible.
Finally, the goldenGate design warrants a specific call-out for its own contribution to friction reduction. GoldenGate involves attaching the chamois at the front and rear, leaving the sides free to float so the chamois moves with your body instead of against it. This effectively relocates friction from the skin/chamois interface to the chamois/shorts, all but eliminating the potential for abrasion and irritation. It also facilitates the chamois' "gap filling" action by helping to keep contact constant to avoid chaffing.
- Mountain bike liner shorts with a road bike pedigree
- Lightweight, high-stretch material maintains comfort under baggies
- Removable padding at hips for rowdy days
- Endurance chamois adds cushion without undue bulk
- Forgiving waistband maintains fit without discomfort
- Reversed seams virtually eliminate abrasion
- Assos launches a bid to conquer the mountains the way it conquered road cycling