THE MISSION RANGE
It's 1986 and we're speeding along the wrong side of a Swiss road. Headlights coming straight at us, my Swiss mate Urs Preisig at the wheel of his yellow Ford Escort, laughing deliriously as the oncoming car closes in on our bonnet. By now you could hear the distorted whine of the other car's sounding horn and see the rage and fear in the eyes of it's panick stricken driver. Will this randomly selected driver hit us head on or swerve into the ditch?
This should never happen, it's where in a split second death greets you. Yet Urs made it happen, in his own lunatic mind, he deliberately chose the wrong side of the road, to scare his mates and scare the crap out of a car load of complete strangers then laugh about it.
The other driver did not waiver, Urs swerved back to the right side of the road and we all caught our breath, which made Preisig laugh even harder. Twice more he performed his madman's manouveur along Deucherstrasse into Weinfelderstrasse from Bürglen into Sulgen, north east Switzerland, we lived and never forgot. A special touch of Swiss madness.
Last week I was sitting watching an animated and passionate Roche Maier of Assos Switzerland, deliver his hour long video dissertation on how the newly released Assos S7 range of cycling shorts were perfect for special cycling missions. When Maier got to describing the Schnecken Panzer and a Kukupenthouse, I remembered Urs Preisig and laughed. Was this just Swiss madness in another guise, or extreme passion for the world of cycling shorts.
Assos has set industry benchmarks from day one. What drives a company to excel at such a high level, constantly striving to set seemingly impossible goals in the creation of cycling specific clothing? The price tag for entry into the world of Assos is high, yet supported by a lengthy list of innovative features to keep you comfortable and winning at whatever drives you to ride bikes.
Founder Tony Maier-Moussa and now Roche Maier's enthusiasm for cycling apparel borders on eccentric. The passion with which each of them deliver the company philosophy reminds me of the artist Geoffrey Smart. Edmund Capon, former director at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in a doco on Smart's life, described how Smart was attending a retrospective exhibition of his own work. Upon viewing one painting which was loaned to the gallery for the show, Smart decided it required some improvements. Finding a paintbrush in the conservation department, Smart returned to the work and began applying a coat of varnish, in full view of a media pack. It's this same brand of eccentricity which has helped forge the reputation of Assos, the Maier's are leaders, not followers and Roche Maier will stop at nothing in defining new benchmarks for cycling apparel.
Take a look at the video above and you'll see first hand the passion that is poured into every pair of Assos cycling shorts. The latest S7 T Campionissimo, competition short is created only for very special racing missions. A new concept titled Click Fit ergoKOMPRESSOR, translated by Roche Maier into this
"super light, super aero, super fast … this new feeling, we call it the click fit ergo kompressor .... it grabs you but without hurting you, it's gentle .. then go on the bike, and it feels like an invisible hand on your ass, gently pushing you, this is Campionissimo ... T Campionissimo featuring the maniacally developed Assos specific textile type A Zero 30 we baptised it ERGO KOMPRESSOR FE..NO..ME..NO ... not every day is champagne, foie gras and beluga, ... so not every day is a campionissimo day, you should save that short for your special missions!"
Just seeing the Maier's in action, you know immediately that they exude passion for their work. Roche Maier took the reins from Tony Maier in 1996. Both men have overseen continual refinement of the Assos range culminating in what is now heralded as the 2014 "Game Changer" mission range.
At Assos they believe that "Using the proper cycling shorts is more important than the bike you are riding."THE S7 RANGE is their answer to make this concept something you can finally access.
NEOPRO dialy worker REGULAR FIT more essential, simpler construction, attractively priced, recommended for young riders starting out or lunchtime riders.
EQUIPE training racing RACING FIT fit a racing body, more compression, snugger fit, the preferred choice of the ASSOS Werksmannschaft : for frequent riders - racing.
CENTO long distance COMFORT FIT fits robust body types, use when less fit at the beginning of the season, for ultra long distance .. the T.CENTO FEATURES the SCHNECKEN PANZER or KUKUPENTHOUSE is a little masterpice that has been designed for ULTRA LONG DISTANCE MISSIONS, less compression, less restrictive. The KUKUPENTHOUSE in the front section of the insert is a low volume circular inlet that accomodates the male anatomy in cocoon-like comfort, yet securely!
CAMPIONISSIMO the world's first technolgical leader RACING FIT ergoKOMPRESSOR Push it past the limit shorts WHICH YOU CAN OWN!!! uniquely built without SPANDEX fabrics, potentially a world's first. Compared to other shorts it's like a supersonic jet versus a steam locomotive..super light, aerodynamic, super fast, plus KLICKFIT and ERGOKOMPRESSOR fabric. Every day is NOT a Campionissmo day. Worn only when in your best form.
How many times have you set off on your bike and thought, "today I'm off on a special mission", probably never. Now Assos have introduced a range that clearly defines four different "mission" specific cycling shorts. The equipe is the all rounder for racing and training. I was given a pair of the equipe shorts to test and will follow up with a full report in PART TWO of ASSOS Special Mission Pants. The NEOPRO is the entry level short, the CENTO is for ultra long distance missions and suited also to more "robust" body types. If you want to win a world championship then you will choose the Campionissmo. In case you're not familiar with the Assos product range and are wondering where the women's specific clothing is in all of this, it does already exist in it's own right.
Whether you intend winning a world championship or just want to have the most fun out of riding a bike in comfort, the S7 range was created to deliver.
What it takes to make the world's best cycling shorts is a little bit of Swiss genius. It's like a recipe for rocket fuel consisting of one part Preisig madness, one part eccentric Geoffrey Smart, combine well with self confessed "maniacally" motivated Roche Maier, stand well back as you light the flame and watch the fireworks, they are spectacular.
If that hasn't convinced you that Assos was founded on pure passion, watch Tony Maier-Moussa in action below.
A brief chronology of milestone ASSOS achievements.
1976 First Aero ONE -PIECE SKINSUIT 1976 First Lycra Cycling Shorts 1976 First Bibshort Pattern 1988 First Multi Density Insert, T. Campionissmo 1995 First Stabiliser Reear Mesh Insert 1998 _ S2 First elastic insert, first added leg grippers, first two-piece, detached anatomical insert 2007 _ S5 First waffle surface insert First impact foam stabiliser construction 2014 _ S7 "The Game Changer" Refined Total Comfort