Winter Kit On Test: ASSOS IJ.pomaDour Range
Winter Kit on Test: ASSOS IJ.pomaDour Range
Having spent many year in Switzerland, my association is with both efficiency and beauty; a country that pays close attention to every detail. Hailing from this very part of the world, clothing brand ASSOS mirrors that vision entirely. As the creators of the first ever Lycra cycling short in 1976, they continue to establish benchmarks within the industry and to this day work with a dedicated textile laboratory to develop cycling specific fabrics for exclusive use.
Indeed, ASSOS have an archive with over 3500 fabrics together with more than 350 years of combined expertise. With all of this in mind, I put to test the pompaDour range – an early winter range consisting of bib tight, jacket and base layer - the range being named after the official chief mistress of Louis XV (I did wonder where the naming came from!) I've used ASSOS shorts for 1000's of kilometres worth of adventure and stage racing so I had confidence the winter kit would impress.
ASSOS LAYERING SYSTEM
Design to work within a system, ASSOS have assembled their clothing range to echo this principle, doing so since 1995. To gain the most benefit from each piece, you are encouraged to wear the right Climarange with the corresponding layers.
According to ASSOS:
“The goal is to keep your body’s internal microclimate dry, stable and comfortable under a wide variety of climatic conditions.”
The Climarange covers 4 different categories and have quirky names to remember them by – SHASHA (over 23°C), TIBURU (over 15°C- 22°C), HABU (over 6°C - 14°C) and finally for winter months BONKA (below 6°C). With the UK winter as my testing time, riding conditions covered anything from - 8 to 15°C thanks to a polarised weather system, but it also provided a great opportunity to see how the kit stands up to both the warmest and the coldest of conditions.
Part of the HABU climate range, this is classed as early winter and although not a female specific piece, this unisex style comes in four different temperature grades: spring/ summer, fall, early winter and winter. I found this instantly comfortable to wear; a compression style base layer that’s made from seamless tubular knit technology. Wearing an XS, it was a great length both in the body and the arms. My favourite bit? The motivational statement on the back “HAVE A GOOD RIDE!”
Wearing the Skinfoil as my principle layer, I found it a neat fit and perfect to wear underneath the iJ.POMPADOUR jacket. On first impressions as I removed it from the stylish packaging, I couldn’t believe the level of detail that had been considered on this jacket – an unrivalled, classy affair. Trying it on, it was clear the fit was specifically modelled on perfecting your riding position, as instantly, I wanted to reach for the bars and felt the anatomical fit.
Having tried several winter riding jackets over the last few months, the ASSOS is by the far the most feature-rich of them all. Considering this jacket has been constructed from an impressive 30 pattern pieces, 10 different textiles and 12 components - I’ll have to give you my favourites for fear of over stepping on word count!
Starting with the neck – there’s a sewn in neck warmer, which at first I wasn’t so sure about – but having spent time riding in so many different conditions and temperatures, I loved this addition by the end. Design to fit flat against your back when not in use, it comes with a neat garage to stow it away and it’s a handy feature to have to keep the wind off and add that little extra layer of protection, especially if you forget your buff!
FABRICS AND VENTING
The venting on this piece has had Einstein levels of thought and consideration – the side panels are a protective and water resistant Polyurethane that shout glamour as well as giving both protection and structure. Using a membraned fabric on the front, arms and the neck collar, which ASSOS call Stratagon airBLOCK, it certainly held off both sweat and windy weather without over-heating on the climbs. In fact, I found it so comfortable on the inside, for warmer days I’d also be tempted to wear simply vest and the jacket itself.
To the rear, ASSOS have shaken up the norm and added super accessible side pockets, ideal for food when you’re on the go. I found this to be a far easier design to reach into, although they weren’t overly deep – so choose your snacks wisely! A deeper middle zip pocket keeps essential tools and valuables safe as well as an additional waterproof wallet within the box, which covers off cards and your mobile phone.
My only other comment was on the colour – the black is slick and classy and despite being worried by the combination of white and UK road riding conditions – even after a rather muddy ride through the backroads of Scotland, it came out superbly clean, shining bright and was easy to wash and care for. ASSOS also give very clear, informative instructions for care within the box.
The ASSOS long leg bib tights are a beautifully constructed, slim fitting tight and part of the BONKA range. From other tights I’ve worn, trying to combine a comfortable, protective winter tight with a seamless fit can be tricky – but ASSOS use a low volume, 4 way stretch membrane that’s used on selected areas over the thigh and knee, so as to avoid that baggy, built up feeling. The fabric they uniquely use is called RXPlus and I found it to be highly protective and stood tough against nasty conditions, yet felt lightweight and mobile.
The chamois was a delight to use – with a female specific design, the bib tights use the Lady_s5_Elastic Insert, which has been tested specifically by women and has a spongy, waffle construction that’s certainly the champion of chamois comfort in my opinion. Whilst expensive, every inch of these tights shouts thoughtful and useful design.
The bibs use a monobib construction and offer three adjustments depending on the length of your back and personal preference. I found the fit was extremely neat, with no digging to the sides or shoulders and I especially like the fact that you have the option to vary how you fasten it.
For perfect ankle cover, I also liked the foot straps – a jodhpur style design - this prevents any riding upwards as well as added warmth to ankles and feet on the coldest of days.
BUY IF YOU:
Are happy to invest in your kit – at a combined RRP of £610 (although these items are on sale – so grab a winter bargain!) they are very pricey, but if you’re a dedicated rider despite the winter weather – they are a worthwhile purchase. I also admire their ethos of buying into quaility that lasts rather than a churn of cheap kit.
Value design and technology – there’s no disputing that ASSOS are one of the benchmarks for bike clothing and are dedicated to the cause. They invest in over 100,000 hours of R&D – so you know you’re getting one of the best.
Like to ride in style. Without a doubt, I felt a better rider simply by wearing this outfit (my Strava may dispute that!), but seriously, ASSOS kit is superbly designed you can’t help but feel great wearing it.
About Catriona Sutherland
Catriona is an avid mountain biker from the UK, favouring endurance events. She has competed in various 24 hour, marathon and stage mountain bike races around the world including the Joberg2c, Epic Israel and the Strathpuffer. Currently working as freelance marketing consultant, mountain bike guide and serial adventurer, Catriona is happiest riding her bike, drinking coffee and planning her next trip!
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