Thursday, April 30, 2009

Assos Summer Gloves

I’ve spent the day thinking about the last time I got excited about a cycling glove. I’m still thinking. It may be that I’ve never found a reason to be excited by a cycling glove. Sure, there have been gloves that I tried on in a shop or at Interbike and thought, “Man, these things are the bomb.” Then I wear them for two weeks and I start finding weaknesses.

That I came to wear the Assos Summer Gloves was nearly accidental. I requested a loan of some Assos clothing for a photo shoot for a project I was working on. In handling them for the photo shoot I noticed their unmistakable quality; they’re from Assos, so it was no real surprise, but they made an impression.

So one morning I decided to try them on. With their simple and striking black and white appearance the style is pure PRO. The closureless fit was surprising not only because it worked and kept the look clean, but because it improved the gloves’ comfort, as in, “Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?” On the palm side the gloves’ great stroke of brilliance is its great flexibility and thin but sufficient padding. Glove padding is a lot like butterscotch on a sundae; it can make a good sundae better, but overdone it will obscure every other detail.

The fit is form following, which is to say it is neither loose nor snug. The absorbent Terry cloth is perfectly positioned for a quick wipe. They are easy to pull on and curl around bar and lever hood as naturally as your hand.

But recommending an expensive pair of gloves is a risky proposition. Given that a pair of Summer Gloves runs north of $50, they need to be more comfortable than Ricardo Montalban’s “rich Corinthian leather” to justify the price.

A glove is not a jersey or pair of shorts. The lessons one learns in producing those garments are not necessarily applicable, at least not the way an approach to fitting a jersey can be applied to fitting a jacket. If ever there was an opportunity to find a chink in the Assos armor, a glove would be an understandable weakness.

If you are unsurprised that BKW would give a positive review to the Assos Summer Gloves, I hope you’ll understand when I tell you I wasn’t planning to review them. That I’m doing so is because I was so completely impressed. These aren’t just great gloves, they are easily the best summer-weight gloves I’ve ever worn and score a perfect 10 on appearance, function, fit and comfort. I expect they’ll hold up well based on my inspection.

Simply put: the Assos Summer Gloves are the Assos of summer gloves.



Wade Wallace said...

Every piece of Assos clothing that I own is the best thing since sliced bread. The quality and the thought they put into it is remarkable! Don't know why I bother buying anything else. I'll have to try out the gloves...

Jim said...

Assos is nice stuff but as a working stiff who is tough on gear (and shreds a lot of it) I cringe at the price; this has made me a bit of a Castelli loyalist. I'm not real brand-focused though. A recent 12 hour MTB race taught me that two pairs of premium gloves I own (Descent, Guarneau) wear holes in my hands after a while and show visible wear, but the cheapo and very durable Performance Elites were supremely comfortable on my battered paws - when the hands start bleeding, it doesn't matter where relief comes from. Big bucks and a prestigious name provide better odds of the gear's quality, but one never knows where good kit will be found.

Padraig said...

Wade: I'd be laughing if it weren't so true.

Jim: I completely understand, which is exactly why I wrote the review. I really didn't think a pair of gloves could be that good and these are my previous favorite gloves squared.

Anonymous said...

I too have found my Assos mitts to the best I've ever owned!

When I see a fellow rider decked out in Assos, I say, "Aha," a really good rider or a gold card! :-)

RMM said...

Its too bad that Assos doesn't make custom team clothing.
While many of us appreciate quality, we are racing and training in whatever our team provides, which is often not of the quality that we would chose to pay for if left to our own devices.

Opie said...

I work at an Assos approved shop in PDX. These gloves are in fact the "bomb" as it were. Interestingly enough, the CAPO summer glove is the same basic layout, and mimic the Assos summer glove from last season.

Wade Wallace said...

Jim, I hear ya re price. I usually go into the Assos shop for a quick look and come out laughing. $300 for a rain jacket!? Ha! (but they are the best rain jackets anyone has ever made. I've probably spent more on cheap ones in the end).

The trick is to make friends with someone who works there - or owns the shop!

Anonymous said...

No mention that wearing gloves training = not PRO. Just thought I would throw it out there.

erik k said...

well said I love my Assos summer gloves half & full finger. They are simply the best

Anonymous said...

I've got that $300 rain jacket and, believe it or not, it is actually worth the price.

The cheap $15 PVC ones that don't breath at all also work when it s really cold outside, as the heat retention "defect" comes in handy in freezing rain.

But all in all, Assos is PRO qua PRO!

Padraig said...

Assos greatest hurdle is overcoming the disbelief that each of their garments is worth the price charged. But I've yet to meet anyone who hasn't been completely pleased with their purchase. It would seem that a universal experience among Assos customers is the revelation, "Oh my God; it really is that good!"

Jim said...

Padraig - still, you have to admit, somebody paying $500 for a high tech windbreaker in in a position where they have a lot of psychological incentive to say it's the best jacket ever. Even the most ruthlessly honest person in the world has no motivation to look foolish.

I'd pay good money for a magazine that did 'blind' comparison tests of bike equipment to get something more like an objective opinion, unfreighted by brand prestige and cost factors. Competitive Cyclist's move to weigh parts and list actual weight is a good move in that direction.

Anonymous said...


You are exactly right -- ever hear anyone diss his new Ferrari?

Well, yes I have so heard. But the guy was soooo wealthy that a new Ferrari was chump change. (He thought his Lambo was better!)

And -- of course this is still anecdotal -- but at the time I bought the $300 Assos rain jacket, along with a Castelli, etc., for a comparison -- the total bill was chump change. (It ain't now!!!!!)

Still, I wouldn't say the Assos $300 model was $200 better than the Castelli, which was lighter and could be carried in pocket for emergencies. Rather, I would say that if were starting in the rain, I'd go with the Assos were money no object. True for biking or running. My second choice for cycling would be for the Castelli. Third, a $15 clear PVC jacket from Nasabar or Performance (first place for sleet).

Assos is not necessarily the value-for-money choice, though sometimes it is. Rather, almost always, its the top of the line -- the Rolls Royce or the Ferrari, so to speak.

Long live ASSOS! Long live PRO!

Buddy (Lee) Poole said...

OK, Padraig, I just dropped $67 on a pair of gloves (w/ shipping) based solely on your recommendation. These batter be some sweet gloves. Your cred's on the line here.

Padraig said...

Jim: You raise a great point; it's a fair request, and one that is really hard to fulfill, but that doesn't mean it's not worth some effort. I'll address it more fully in a future post.

Buddy: Your followup will be the period on this post. We look forward to what you have to say.