I’ll be the first to admit that, in recent years, I’ve grown to be a bit biased against bib tights. All too often, I’ve found them to pull in all of the wrong places, while misplacing the support of the chamois to the point of chafing. In other words, I’ve gravitated towards leg warmers in the past couple of years. On a personal note, though, my decision has come down to a matter of fit, not materials. And honestly, it’s easy to see why so many have missed the mark — designing a skin-tight onesie for a grown man is no small feat. However, the lapse in warmth from where my leg warmers end and my base layer begins has led me to never stop searching for the perfect pair of bib tights. And knowing that fit has been the persistent problem, I turned my sights towards the champion of fit, the one and only Assos. Yes, coughing up the coin for the LL.haBu_s5 bib tights was a little painful for a workin’ man, but the pay out has far exceeded my expectations.
The packaging is very high-end, luxury even. In the packaging, Assos included a laundry bag, active wear cleanser, and a small portion of chamois cream. However, I’ve been told that this might not be the case anymore, and it certainly won’t be for anything in the _s7 line. As far as materials go, I immediately recognized quality.
The various fabrics used in the construction (Roubaix, RX-Q, and stratagonUltra airblock) have a soft hand, and the lining features a relatively light loft. In terms of paneling, sophisticated doesn’t begin to explain the depth of Assos’ design.
Not surprisingly, these tights aren’t made for the “executive build.” The cut of the uppers incorporates a rather high stratagonUltra airblock panel over the stomach that extends nearly to the sternum. Thankfully, this section has a short zipper that makes entry and exit possible, because frankly, this section doesn’t provide much in the way of wiggle room. This isn’t to say that it’s uncomfortable, though, given that this design is merely an expression of Assos’ AEPD cut.
Furthering this design ideology, the legs are slender and contoured to the riding position, thus the extensive paneling. As a result, the bib tights don’t bunch behind the knee or at the hip flexor. Even better, the precise positioning on the body situates the chamois in the perfect location for saddle support and pedaling locomotion. And to further secure this, the bib tights incorporate stirrups at the leg openings. This all equates to a close, conforming fit that literally feels like a second skin.
With the fit dialed-in, Assos ensured that the fabric is capable of doing its job without restriction. Over the quads, the material is lightly compressive, feeling a little tighter across the hamstring. This characteristic lends itself to long base mile support, which follows suit with Assos’ chamois selection — its workhorse, the FI.Mille_S5. Featuring the _s5 series’ signature Klinik colorway and waffled construction, I found the chamois to comfortable, without being too thick and clunky. Most importantly, it’s highly breathable and doesn’t accumulate moisture — essential for apparel that’s designed to increase warmth. Further along these lines, I found that the material selection throughout the bib tights operated in much same way. In other words, I’ve yet to ever feel wet, clammy, or cold on a ride. And for some perspective, I haven’t had a ride above 38 degrees Fahrenheit since November. So, you can take Assos’ ClimaRange 5 rating with a grain of salt — you’ll be fine.
On top of this, the construction of the bib tights is strong and durable, which is impressive considering that they only weigh around 346 grams in a size Medium. During the photo shoot for this review, back in November, I hit the deck on a long patch of ice at about 30-35mph. After sliding for about 30 feet, I dusted myself off, and I noticed that the tights showed no sign of a crash. Even to this day, they’re holding up just fine, but I can’t say the same for my hip. It took a little help to climb back out of the canyon.
Honestly, there’s not too much to complain about with the LL.haBu_s5. If I had to make a complaint, though, it would be that the stomach zipper is a little bit fussy. On rare occasions, I’ve had the zipper jam up or get caught in a base layer, but given the elongated stomach panel, there’s really no way around it. And if I’m going to be really picky, the FI.Mille_S5 chamois wouldn’t be my first pick, given that my sit bones are pretty narrow and I prefer a little less padding. My personal preference would have been for a FI.13-like chamois, but that’s just me being picky.
It’s hard to say it, but the LL.haBu_s5 bib tights pretty much do everything that they look like they’d do, feel like they’d do, and what Assos says that they’ll do. In a way, they’re pretty damn close to perfect.
Photos: Re Wikstrom, Ian Matteson