Gear On Test: ASSOS LAALALAI_EVO Collection
ASSOS LAALALAI_EVO Collection
Whether you’re northern or southern hemisphere, now’s the time for a change in season. In the UK, the nights are darker and we’re reaching for our arm warmers, but if you’re in the south, you’ll be welcoming sunshine and getting ready for longer days in the saddle. Thankfully, I’ll be joining you as I’m soon to take off to Australia for my last race of the season, so I’ll not be packing away the shorts just yet.
This summer, I’ve been racing as much as I can around the world, cramming the training miles in alongside a busy work and travel life. As part of my exploration, I've been trialing a range of kit new to the shelves of many a bike shop this season. On test over the last few months is the latest women's range from ASSOS – the LAALALAI_EVO collection.
Endurance is my bag. I love a long day in the saddle and in the past, ASSOS shorts have been with me through many hours of both joy and suffering. Packed as part of my trusty kit, I’ve been riding many miles of mountain and road to see how this jersey, shorts and base layer combination stands up.
LAALAAIEVO JERSEY & SHORTS
Landing in my lap at the beginning of August, I was off to ride two of my longest, toughest mountain bike events of the year, so what better way to see how the ASSOS RacingFit design would stack up against all manner of tarmac and trail than the wilds of Iceland and Romania. To stave off any chill, the Summer Skinfoil base layer was a handy addition. ASSOS recommend teaming the two, this way you'll optimise the layering system and keep the cold at bay.
Applause for ASSOS and their range of colour choice – choose from blue, coral, yellow or stealth black – it’s a sharp and classy colour combination that’s a change to a predictable, girly palette. First thing to note about this jersey is the fit. Sculpted and sleek, the uber-lightweight wicking fabric felt smooth and the shaping instantly requires a performance tuck. Longer on the back and shorter on the front, as they suggest, you do feel marginally restricted and if you’re conscious of tummy, it’s perhaps a little lacking in length. I loved the laser cut sleeves and bonded technology that added to a lightning speed appeal.
I did find however that the jersey had a tendency to ride up, as there's minimal grip on the rear. For shorter rides, this works fine - but for longer days in the saddle, I did find myself having to adjust it.
Riding in a spectrum of conditions, from icy Icelandic winds to sunny, Scottish summer days, the mobility of the cut was noticeable as was the breathability. On the back, the panel uses a fabric called Stabilizor S7 knit, which apart from being a pretty weave design, worked well to dump heat on big climbs. Stashing my gear, the pockets were big enough for a 29er tube as well as having a handy zip integrated in the middle pocket. Standard stuff, but all with ASSOS attention to detail and a little tag to remind you to 'Have a Good Ride!"
ASSOS advise using their Skinfoil base layer and as a stand-alone piece, I rate it highly. As the lightest variety in the collection, the v neck is designed to increase airflow and is best for warmer conditions. I do think there's some more work to be done in terms of a female fit though, as they use a unisex pattern and I found it substantially longer than the jersey. From a comfort and aesthetic perspective, this makes it a little lumpy and I had to tuck it into my shorts, which was marginally awkward.
I didn’t always opt for the base layer as personally, I get hot very quickly and being Scottish, my thermostat can handle most weather systems. However, I did find myself on top of a Romanian summit at 2,600 metres, questioning my sanity and ability to read a race description and so welcomed the added warmth of the tubular knit construction.
Laalalai_Evo Jersey RRP £135
Rather than bibs, I opted for the new shorts – often the easiest for racing when you are half-way up a mountain and you’d rather not bare your birthday suit mid-race when nature calls! I did find the fit on these a little different to past models and had to go a size up, which unfortunately left me with a little too much room in the waist. Once on though, they were a flattering length and the insert pad was dreamy; my third day of racing welcomed quality cushioning and ASSOS delivered. I will say, no matter the short – if you’ve chosen the wrong saddle, you’ll pay – but that’s an article for another day.
Using a thicker, elasticated waistbelt, I liked the shaping to the Laalalai_evo shorts. Rising at the back and shallower at the front, they have an aerodynamic cut that works well with the jersey combo.
One thing I’ve never strayed far from is ASSOS chamois cream – I’ve been using this for years. With its soothing botty balm effect, no other cream has come close.
LAALALAI_EVO Shorts RRP £110
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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