The Assos Equipe RS Clima Capsule Alleycat is an emergency jacket for racing. It won’t leave you soaked with sweat or see a loss of aerodynamics due to flapping material, but the fit is so tight it’s uncomfortable off the bike.
Tons of stretch in the forearms
Double zipper pocket access
Uncomfortable across the chest unless you are riding
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There's a wide range of weather and riding styles that could cause you to layer up. We have guides for the best waterproof cycling jackets and the best gilets for cycling. The Assos Equipe RS Clima Clapsule Alleycat is a bit of both and also neither.
It's hard to pin down exactly what this piece of clothing is. We think it does have a place though and we've spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to explain what that might be. If an outer shell that's highly visible and easily layered sounds like it might have a place in your closet, keep reading to see what the Assos Equipe RS Clima Capsule Alleycat is all about.
Design and aesthetics
There are three parts of the design from a technical standpoint. At the leading edge is a two-layer membrane fabric that Assos refers to as Silver Haze. It's the same material that you can see in use on the Assos Mille GT Clima Jackets and that says a lot about what it is.
The Clima Jacket is an emergency rain shell. Meaning, at the leading edge of the Assos Equipe RS Clima Capsule Alleycat you've got an emergency rain jacket. There is a thin mesh bonded to a hydrophilic membrane infused with reflective glass microbeads. It's windproof and very water-resistant but there's not much warmth. The glass microbeads mean as soon as any kind of light hits it, the colour changes from a grey to a bright white. It's very visible.
Below that leading edge, there's another windproof and water-resistant material called Yubari. Yubari covers the front lower abdomen as well as the centre of the back down to the tail of the jacket. It's more breathable and a bit lighter, but the headline feature is how soft it is to the touch. It's really pretty amazing to feel. In the centre of the back, there's a reflective stripe bonded to the fabric to continue with the visibility of the top section.
The rest of the jacket is the part that allows it to stand out from the crowd. Starting at about the elbow the whole lower section of the sleeves is a highly breathable, soft-shell, stretch material. It continues up the underside of the arm and makes up side panels that heavily encroach on the back hard-shell panels. You can also find a bit of it at the back of the neck.
At the rear of the jacket, there are no pockets, no gripper, and no elastic of any kind. The water-resistant panels have no stretch either, so making the fit work is entirely the job of the black "Push Pull" fabric and access to your pockets beneath comes via the two-way zipper at the front. This is a minimal piece designed with nothing extra so that it is as light as possible.
What is it?
The reason that the Alleycat is both a gilet and a jacket is because that's the story of its development. It began life by taking the Assos Equipe RS gilet and adding full-length Push Pull sleeves. WorldTour riders found success with the design and Assos further developed it to where it is now.
In its current state, it's closer to a jacket, but only barely. The leading edge has expanded far beyond the lines of a vest. The highest protection now extends down the arms to the elbow. There was also a rolling change that saw the upper back centre section use the Silver Haze fabric instead of the Yubari fabric. The Push Pull fabric then extends into the vest outline at the rear of the jacket to provide greater stretch and more breathability.
The real trick to the jacket is the Push Pull fabric in the forearms. The concept is that you can get the Alleycat over other layers with ease and it's this part of the design that makes it all work. If you try to slide a tight-fitting top layer over a lower layer, the place you'll have the most issue is the forearm. By making that lower section highly stretchable, that issue disappears.
The times I wear the Alleycat are the times it's somewhat warm but windy or with a chance of rain. If I know it's going to rain all day, it's not the best choice, but it does still work well when caught in a downpour. The sleeve design works for getting it on and off over bulkier jackets and it does a better job than most emergency jackets with the shoulders.
The biggest advantage it offers in comparison to other emergency jackets is the shoulder fit and breathability. I've never experienced the boil-in-a-bag feeling of being wet with sweat while using the Assos Equipe RS Clima Capsule Alleycat. At the same time, there is no material flapping in the wind which is another common issue with emergency jackets.
However, with all that said, the place where this jacket falls a bit short is also the fit. It's very tight across the shoulders and chest. I'm tiny and no one would ever describe me as having broad shoulders but it's not comfortable to stand up in this jacket. On the bike it's comfortable but the tightness across the chest means it doesn't layer as well over jackets and it's more difficult to get off.
My favourite way to use the Assos Equipe RS Clima Capsule Alleycat is with an insulative layer underneath. The concept of adding a lightweight hardshell to a softshell jacket is a good one but a vest is a better choice. This piece works best when you have a non-membrane insulating layer, such as the Gore C5 Thermo Jersey, underneath and want to add a membrane top layer.
The Assos Equipe RS Clima Capsule Alleycat is an emergency jacket with some tricks. Because Assos uses a high stretch fabric for the forearms you can layer it over bulkier lower layers when you need to. There is also a double zipper but it's already so breathable it's unlikely you'll need to take advantage of that feature for anything besides access to your jersey pockets beneath. If visibility is a concern for you then the embedded glass beads in the upper section will be a big selling point.
Although it's a better design than many emergency jackets, it's still not perfect. The fit is good but also limits the use by being tight across the chest. It keeps you from soaking yourself with sweat because of excellent ventilation, but it also lacks the stuff sack that some emergency jackets come with.
Tech specs: Assos Equipe RS Clima Capsule Alleycat
- Price: £210.00 / $265.00 / €240.00 / AU$420.00
- Available Colours: blackSeries
- Material: 2L Silver Haze in leading edge, Yubari in lower sections, and Push Pull for stretch and breathability
- Weight: 138g size small
- Size Availability: XS-XLG and TIR (XLG but wider)
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