Assos has historically been considered the most technical clothing brand in the cycling world, and the new Equipe RS collection is the most technically advanced winter kit the Swiss brand has ever released.
At the centre of the collection is Assos’ new winter jacket, called the johDah (pronounced ‘Yo-da’ in tribute to the jedi master himself). It costs a striking £575 but has rather impressive technical innovation to justify the price.
The ‘diffuser’ valves are the most eye-catching feature of the jacket. The diffuser system comprises a set of vents that sit at the shoulders, highlighted with a blue flash of colour, which open up to allow air into the jacket.
The theory is that when the rider is in an aggressive shoulder-forward position during an effort, the vents will naturally open and allow air in. The variable ventilation means that the jacket preserves warmth when riding gently, but creates a ‘controlled influx of air during efforts where body temperature rises’, according to Luca Zanasca, head engineering officer at Assos.
Permeability and ventilation have been prioritised in the design, which is apparent in the selection of materials on the jacket too. The lower back, for instance, is made from a warm but permabile Osmos Heavy fabric. That’s in contrast to the front, upper back and forearms which use Assos’ water and wind-resistant Sphere material.
Finally, the upper arms consist of an insulating zigzagged fabric that ASSOS calls ZigZaggy.
Integrated within the jacket is a very short insulated mid-layer that covers just the chest. This offers warmth for the neck and chest area when air is flowing through the diffuser valves or when the top of the jacket has been unzipped.
However, the key concept behind the johDah is that it sits at the centre of a collection of kit that aims to facilitate intense winter training in an entirely new way.
Focussing on the challenges of variable body temperature during winter rides, where icy mornings may lead to boil-in-the-bag mid-morning training efforts, the Equipe RS collection showcases three modular upper layers that can be easily compacted and stored within the johDah jacket.
These layers comprise of the johDah itself, alongside an external windshield called the Clima Capsule (£210) and an intermediate layer that sits underneath the jacket called the Thermobooster Mid Layer (£130). The Mid Layer or Clima Capsule can be stored in the johDah’s ‘Thermobooster Pod’, a transparent fabric pocket that sits on the upper back.
Its positioning may seem a little odd, but Zanasca explains, ‘When you are in that racing position, the air flow over this part of the back is such that you don’t sweat too much in this area,’ helping the overall regulation of body temperature that’s key to the whole collection.
The Clima Capsule is likely to be the more common supplement to the jacket, with Zanasca suggesting that the Thermobooster Mid Layer is better suited to more dramatic changes in temperature. ‘For instance, it’s something that you might take off on a long pass and put in the Pod, but put back on for the descent,’ says Zanesca.
S9 Bib tights
On the lower half, Assos has unveiled its first winter bib tights with the S9 chamois pad.
The Equipe RS Winter Tights (£335) are an update of the deep winter Bonka tight, but with the S9 design, where external bib braces are stitched directly to the pad from the tights' exterior – increasing comfort and stability. It also uses Assos’ S9 Golden Gate design, where the insert’s side panels are not stitched directly to the tights’ interior to allow more free movement and breathability.
We look forward to testing the full Equipe RS collection, so keep your eyes on rouleur.cc and Desire for an in-depth review in the near future.
The Assos Equipe is available now through various retailers and the collection can be viewed in more detail at Assos.com.