With the release of the women-specific T.rallyShorts_S7 Lady Bib Shorts, our response was the same as when the men's model was unveiled during the last product cycle. We were surprised. We weren't surprised that the Swiss company was leaving the black ribbon for the dusty trail; rather, we were surprised that we never found it odd that a company based in such mountainous terrain hadn't produced mountain kit before. Like the men's model, the women's T.rallyShorts are set apart from the brand's often-fetishized road shorts by three key elements: padding, a revised chamois, and a new main body fabric.
The padding is the most immediately obvious difference, and it's also the feature that most recommends the T.rallyShorts for bumpy riding. The padding centers on the greater trochanter, which marks the top of the femur and the hip joint. The pads consist of 8mm of viscoelastic polyurethane, and they're shaped and positioned to protect against the usual impacts of hard trail riding without compromising pedaling efficiency or mobility. Their low weight and flexibility is further complemented by body perforations, which reduce the suffocating effect of solid pads. They're also removable for days when your XC aspirations aren't as dangerous or you're just out spinning on the road.
The chamois is similar to the amethyst inserts found throughout Assos' road line with two differences. First, it's grey, not purple. Second, it has been completely reimagined, shape-wise, to conform to a woman's anatomy. At its heart is a mountain-specific topography of memoryFoam material first introduced in the venerable _s2 FI.13. This material exhibits remarkable return properties, so it quickly regains its original position after deformation, essentially filling the gaps that your pedal stroke produces while your weight shifts throughout the pedaling motion.
The T.rallyShorts are built on Assos' s7 platform, which entails a host of bulk-reducing, anatomical features, but the goldenGate design warrants a specific call-out. 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 irritation. It also facilitates the chamois' "gap filling" action by helping to keep contact constant to avoid chafing.
Assos claims that, since they're being released a year later than the men's version, the women's T.rallyShorts enjoy a host of improvements. The improved type.499 fabric, updated with a name and increased durability, is definitely leading this category. The shorts also feature the same Kompressorfabric as the men's, a compound name that alludes to the material's combined powers of compression, aerodynamic properties, and durability. While the former two properties feature in Assos' road line, durability is almost as important for off-road shorts, so the material is made to handle the rough-and-tumble world of pervasive trail grime, grasping branches, and unyielding granite that most road rides never encounter.
The leg bands continue this theme of fitting your body instead of forcing your body to fit the shorts. The legs terminate in low-volume grip bands to keep the cuffs securely in place, and the waistband uses gentle compression and a wide footprint to ensure coverage without adding pressure and restriction to your stomach. The lay-flat bib straps meet in a Y over the sternum, and Assos claims that the new, magnetic buckle over the stomach manages to increase comfort over the previous designs used in shorts from the outgoing S5 line. While we never really had any complaints about the comfort of the S5's buckle system, the new, magnetic engagement does net some obvious. It clicks into place with the same intuitive ease that the your body clicks into the Assos fit.