Pioneers of the first lycra bib shorts, with the likes of Laurent Fignon and Daniel Giseger being early adopters of the brand, ASSOS has been in the business of making high performance kit for decades. Widely regarded as the Rolls-Royce of cycling apparel brands, there is no denying that the Swiss company is a market leader in its field.
However, one area in which ASSOS has been criticised in the past is its offerings for female cyclists. Historically, the brand has failed to take women’s cycling seriously, with a focus on appearances rather than practicality when it comes to female kit. In 2016, former CEO of ASSOS, Phil Duff, made a pact to change this, promising a new direction for the brand which would see parity in men’s and women’s kit offerings, as well as more tasteful advertising, focussing on strong women as opposed to objectifying female athletes as a way of marketing.
In an interview with totalwomenscycling in 2016, Duff is quoted as saying: “The only thing I have dictated and mandated [since joining ASSOS] is that we are not going to depict women and treat women the way the company had historically.”
It’s fair to say that Duff and ASSOS came good on their promise, and, six years on, the Women’s DYORA Winter collection serves as a shining example of this. At first touch, the quality of the kit becomes abundantly clear, with the material, branding and details all exhibiting just how much thought has gone into the design process of this collection. This feeling is only amplified once the kit is being worn – it is a well contoured women’s specific fit that is aerodynamic without being restrictive.
Designed for the “serious year-round rider and pro athlete”, the quality of ASSOS’ kit doesn’t come without a price tag, and a hefty one at that. Over the past few months, we’ve tested the women’s DYORA RS Winter Collection on many frosty mornings, discovering if the substantial cost is worth it compared to cheaper kit alternatives.
DYORA RS Winter Jacket
The flagship product in ASSOS’ female winter collection is undoubtedly the DYORA RS Winter Jacket. Described as the most technical winter softshell that the Swiss brand has created to date, it’s clear that no stone has been left unturned when developing the garment. A serious range of materials have been used on specific areas of the jacket, depending on where the wind hits and where more ventilation is needed, creating optimum conditions for cold, multi-hour rides.
The most striking element of the jacket was, for me, the material used on the sleeves. It is unique to any other cycling jacket I’ve worn, made out of what ASSOS describe as “warp-knit 3L ZigZaggy foam”. The warp-knit structure means that the threads zig-zag along the length of the fabric, rather than following a single row, it is therefore much more robust and has a tighter structure, aiding the windproof properties of the jacket.
Since the arms are what hit the wind first, stubborn wind protection is essential here during harsh winter conditions, and ASSOS’ unique choice of fabric does this job to an exemplary standard. Throughout each ride I’ve done in the DYORA jacket, I haven't felt the wind chill on my arms, helped too by the elastic gripper on the bottom of the sleeve, locking out any cold air. This wind-blocking effect is achieved without a highly compressive fit on the arms either, with room underneath the jacket for a winter base layer or two.
The thickest part of the jacket is the panel on the lower back, an area which can suffer from the cold, or wet spray from the roads below. It is made from ASSOS’ OSMOS heavy material, the most insulating in the OSMOS range, and ensures warmth throughout the ride. The upper and front of the jacket consists of the wind and waterproof SPHERE light textile with OSMOS light material used for the lining of the jacket.
This combination of fabrics means the jacket strikes a perfect balance between being extremely warm, but also breathable. Despite the double layer, ASSOS has kept the jacket lightweight, without any of the bulk usually experienced when wearing a deep-winter garment. The jacket isn’t restrictive, even though it is tight fitting with a focus on aerodynamics, and I felt as free as I would in a summer jersey, despite being cocooned in a bubble of warmth.
Maintaining a stable core temperature and avoiding that undesirable ‘boil-in-a-bag’ feeling that some winter jackets can lead to is something that the DYORA RS jacket does extremely well. This is largely down to the silver Diffusor valves seen on the shoulders. They act as a set of air vents, bringing cold air into the rest of the fabric and distributing between the layers to avoid any possibility of overheating. Even during hard efforts on the road, I felt like this technology worked perfectly, ensuring I was able to continue riding hard without the need to even unzip the jacket.
Details like the taped, double-slider zipper and lidded pockets all go a little way to justify the £430 price tag of the DYORA RS Jacket. While it is a big initial investment, the jacket is extremely durable and could see a rider through a multitude of winters and conditions, making the cost per use a bit more digestible. There is no denying that there are cheaper alternatives out there, but if it’s within your budget, there is little better on offer in the world of women’s winter kit than the DYORA RS jacket.The design is classy and understated, as is usual with ASSOS, with purple accents and a black base. More colour options would be preferable, however, to aid visibility in the darker winter months, but ASSOS have somewhat remedied this with a reflective strip on the rear pocket.
DYORA RS WINTER BIB TIGHTS S9
Following in the trend of using a combination of fabrics on different parts of the garment are the DYORA RS winter bib tights. Similarly to the jacket, ASSOS has carefully targeted protection from the elements where it is most needed, with a thicker fabric at the rear of the bibs. The Swiss manufacturer has added its SPHERE medium fabric here, with the rest of the bibs consisting of SPHERE ultra fabric and OSMOS heavy material, which has a comforting, soft feel against the skin. All waterproof and windproof, this medley of materials offers a complete block against chilly weather.
Perhaps the most notable feature when comparing the DYORA RS winter bib tights to others on the market are the grey panels on the lower leg, made up of ASSOS’ neoprene material. These repel water, enhancing the weather resistance of an overshoe on its own, keeping the bottom of the leg, which is largely hit by water from puddles on the roads, dry and protected.
It’s worth noting that these bib tights are designed for the harshest conditions and offer protection accordingly. I found that riding above around 8 degrees celsius, they almost offered an excessive amount of warmth, without as much breathability as Assos' winter jacket. Treated with durable water repellent, they were ideal for cold, wet rides, but I likely wouldn’t reach for them unless it was a particularly chilly day.
As for the chamois, it is the same as that found in the majority of ASSOS’s modern women's bib shorts and tights, and is extremely comfortable for riding long distances. The famed GoldenGate technology means there is no stitching alongside the panels, allowing freedom of movement and ensuring there is no friction, which is especially important during wet weather rides.
The bib tights don’t come up too high on the body, unlike those of other manufacturers, and, personally, I would prefer for them to sit slightly higher to add another layer of insulation around the body’s core. The ‘X’ shape of the bibs is extremely comfortable, however, and allows freedom of movement which is welcome when getting in and out of the saddle.
WOMEN’S ULTRAZ WINTER LS SKIN LAYER
For maximum warmth, the ULTRAZ winter skin layer paired with the winter jacket is the optimum combination. A fully thermal long sleeve top, with a high cut neck and longline body, there is little more you could need in a protective winter layer. It hugs the body in a streamlined fit, without feeling restrictive, but it would be worth sizing up if a looser fit is preferable.
The wool-blended knit feels soft as the first contact point with the skin, and the seamless construction of the garment aids comfort and avoids any rubbing or friction. Worn underneath the DYORA RS winter jacket, the baselayer offered protection even when the temperatures dropped well below minus. For the majority of the time I was testing this kit, which was throughout the winter in the South of England, I found both the baselayer and jacket together to be too warm and felt more comfortable with a thinner base layer underneath the jacket. However, in colder climates that are regularly below 5 degrees celsius, this combination would likely be of regular use.
It’s hard to believe that ASSOS was once criticised for a lack of high quality female kit when using the ASSOS Women’s DYORA RS Winter Collection. The DYORA winter jacket strikes me as one of the most well-thought-out and technically advanced garments on the market, somehow, magically, giving you all the warmth of a bulkier winter jacket while also being incredibly lightweight and breathable. The DYORA RS winter bib tights were superb in the coldest rides I’ve had to do this winter, and I would recommend them to anyone who is regularly riding in low temperatures.
Overall, the full ASSOS winter DYORA outfit would set you back an eye-watering £870, which is far higher than the price point of almost any other apparel brands selling winter kit. However, with this price tag does come with exceptionally high quality kit. So if you have the means, these are certainly worth paying for.