Switzerland knows mountains.
When Assos triumphantly rolled out its new, mountain-minded T.rallyShorts_s7 Shorts, we were admittedly surprised — not that the Swiss company was leaving the black ribbon for the dusty trail, but that we never found it odd that a company based in such mountainous terrain hadn't done so before. Whatever the case, the Assos' peculiar naming convention is describing knobby tire kit now, and three key elements set the T.rallyShorts apart from the company's legendary road kit: 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 comprise 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, but in a grey color. At its heart is an mountain-specific geography of memoryFoam material first introduced in the venerable _s2 FI.13. This material exhibits remarkable return properties, so it quickly returns to its original position after deformation, essentially filling the gaps that your pedal stroke produces while your weight shifts throughout the pedaling motion.
The final mountain-specific innovation included here is the Kompressorfabric, whose compound name 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 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 friction. It also facilitates the chamois' "gap filling" action, which by helping to keep contact constant to avoid chafing.
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 superFlat 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 keep everything in place and maintain the classic Assos fit, which will feel a bit awkward on two feet, but clicks into place when you mount-up on the trail.