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- V Campenaerts
Smiles flicker across the faces of everyone in the room. It’s confirmation that we’re in the right business. The words come from Victor Campenaerts, World Hour Record Holder and one of the latest riders to join the NTT Pro Cycling roster.
He’s meticulous in the way he tries on the apparel. So are the collection of ASSOS technicians around him. From any vantage point (apart from that of his competitors), it’s a great pairing.
But he’s not unusual in his manner; it’s the same routine that we see from all the professional riders that we fit. Concentration on their faces as they shift different parts of apparel into their designated positions; moving seams into place or tweaking a sleeve a little further down the arm. The studious placement of the chamois and hands that smooth the fabric. There’s part-understanding and part-awe at the second-skin-like feel of the apparel. As the riders busy themselves with the kit, the function of each piece is explained by our top Product Developers.
“It makes a difference at 50 km/h whether you’re wearing an S or an M. Over 200 km, you can’t escape it,” chief product tester Daniele N. explains, “That’s why we’re here to ensure that the riders get the precise fit in terms of aerodynamics and ergonomics.”
- Daniele N, ASSOS chief product tester
It comes as no surprise to learn that fit is the number one priority because it’s the fit that ensures the function. “If the fit isn’t correct, even the most high performance textiles won’t perform as engineered. The fit needs to be tight, especially for the lower part of your body, whereas the upper part is more subjective,” gestures Daniele.
The conversation is a bit disjointed as the team around Victor calls out the rest of his measurements before going through the entire lineup of gloves (he sizes up for wet weather to make it easier to get them on and off). For winter jackets, he prefers a looser fit so that his breathing isn’t hindered in the cold—a decision that concurs with Daniele’s point about subjectivity.
“At ASSOS we look at fit in three pillars — it begins with the aerodynamic gains of the fit, then goes onto fit for comfort for long hours in the saddle, and ends with fit for rain protection with jackets and gloves, where resilience is most beneficial.”
As an ex-pro, Daniele isn’t short of real-world knowledge of dressing in bad weather. He agrees: “Pros know exactly how tough it is to dress correctly when it’s horrible outside. They’ve dialled in the tips and tricks for these conditions and know how fit and tightness affect them, their breathing, their internal climate, and ultimately their ride. It’s things like sizing up for rain gloves, and ensuring that your winter baselayer has a truly second-skin fit so that no air can enter.”
But what about life away from the elite of the WorldTour and the lucky riders of NTT Professional Team who get exclusive ASSOS support? How do we fit everyday riders for their riding?
“In principle it’s the same, but a little less aerodynamic-focused for amateur riders,” Giuseppe R, product developer and roadLab test rider explains. “For everyone outside of the WorldTour the focus should be on comfort over aerodynamics. Sure, if you’re an ex-racer then you might look for a tighter fit, but we’d absolutely recommend going for a size that feels tight, does not sag when you’re in the riding position, and does not feel constrictive. You’ll feel if the zips and fabric are too tight or too loose. We often see riders mistakenly going for a bigger size with the misconception that tight is bad, but all our products need to be close to the skin and close to each other so that they function.” For riders that are unsure of sizing, every ASSOS dealer has been schooled by said product developers in the art of the ASSOS fit.
Function is the mantra with fitting, because each piece of ASSOS apparel is designed to excel while riding. The ASSOS man? There’s a reason behind him. You’ll see all the professional riders bend forward and adopt a cycling-like pose while fitting, and we recommend everyone do that.
“I think that there is no set guide of how to fit a rider,” Giuseppe concludes. “As Daniele said, the principle for the bottom half is more set in stone, because the insert needs stability, but for the top half we need to think about finding the point of preferred comfort, where function is not compromised. Luckily, the differences between our sizes are small, meaning that if you have a fitting with one of our ASSOS dealers you’ll be able to find the fit that works precisely for you.”