There’s no question that the Assos Mille GT Thermo Rain Shell Pants are an excellent option for the worst weather. For full coverage though you need to pair them with top-of-the-line Assos bib tights and that makes the cost high
Comfortable and fitted
Knicker length design could add versatility
No buckles or fasteners
Requires Assos-specific bib tights for full leg coverage
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Riding long hours in sustained rain takes the right equipment. Starting with a pair of the best winter bib tights, adding one of the best waterproof cycling jackets is a given and you'll need to pair that with either some of the best winter cycling boots or a set of the best cycling overshoes. Even with all that gear, your feet will get wet given enough time in the rain. The key to keeping your feet dry in sustained rain is a good pair of hardshell trousers to ensure your legs stay dry.
For many road cyclists that sounds like a style burden that just isn't worth it. Assos comes to the rescue with a hardshell trouser that fits the style of the roadie crowd as well as being one of the best technical solutions we've tried. We spent hundreds of miles riding with them in the rain, and even a little snow, to see what they were like to actually use. With that experience under our belts, we are ready to share all the details with you. So, if you are wondering about the Assos interpretation of the hardshell trouser, keep reading to see what we think of them.
Design and aesthetics
A big part of what makes the Assos Mille GT Thermo Rain Shell Pants what they are is the aesthetics. If you have some idea in your head of hardshell cycling trousers being a utilitarian product to go over khaki work trousers on your way to the office, these are different. That idea isn't realistic anyway but Assos sidesteps it. These trousers are sleek and as stylish as anything of this nature will ever be.
The cut isn't completely skin-tight, but it is less baggy than most of the competition. It's very clear that these start with the assumption that the only thing under them is going to be bib tights, and there's no room needed for anything with more bulk.
Part of what keeps them sleek is the fact that they end mid-calf. One of the areas where competing hardshell options gain bulk is in the transition from the calf to the end of the leg. Even if you've got a sleek profile up top you have to incorporate a solution that makes room for boots at the ankle while also staying tight. That means some system of closure and extra material. Instead of dealing with that, Assos ends the Mille GT Thermo Rain Shell Pants early and relies on their bib tights to seal the bottom of the leg.
For that lower section of the trousers, between the knee and the opening at the calf, Assos uses a heavier material. It's a three-layer fabric called Neos mild. Assos claims that it adds protection but compared to the two-layer Neos Ultra in the upper section there's very little added weather protection. Instead, what it adds is next to skin comfort. Assos expects that there will be instances that you'll pair these with bib shorts, and Neos Ultra lacks an inner fabric face so would be unpleasant against the skin.
You'll also find two Neos Mild panels in the groin/saddle areas. Not only does it switch to the heavier fabric but those panels join with the only three seams that don't use a flatlock stitch. Every other seam in the garment is flatlocked, and with the exception of the waist seams, they are also taped. Whatever the strategy is, water won't leak so it takes nothing away from the performance.
At the front of the waist, there's only a welded hem of the Neos Ultra material. There's more than enough stretch in that fabric and at the rear, you'll find a silicone gripper typical for the bottom of a jacket. Assos claims the design comes from their trail lineup but there's nothing quite like it on that side. The reference is only that there are no fasteners or adjustment.
These came to me in the midst of testing a variety of hardshell cycling trousers to see what worked best. While testing options from different companies I tended to always wear the Assos Mille GT Winter Bib Tights. They are super comfortable and they lack any panels featuring windstop or any attempt to add hardshell panels. In my testing, they work perfectly under another layer and Assos seems to have realised that.
In creating their own full system, they built off many of those features while adding more with the Mille GTO Winter bib tights C2. This review isn't about those bib tights but it's important to understand them as part of the system. The Mille GT Thermo Rain Shell Pants rely on the 'Geoprene' lower section of the bib tights and the bib tights rely on the added insulation of the shell trousers.
That means if you are heading out in the worst weather, you are looking at an expensive combination. Faced with what seems like an overly complex system that solves a problem for more money than other solutions, my bias was against it all working. However, my mind was immediately changed the first time I put everything on. The lower section of the bib tights seal water out from your shoes better than alternatives.
Because the shell trousers don't need to handle the bottom of the leg, they are able to use a sleeker cut with less fabric. The cut is aggressive enough that they pre-curve the legs. There's a pleat and a seam at the knee that make it slightly awkward to stand upright but sitting on the bike feels perfect. Pedalling feels natural and there's less noise from the fabric. The waist is also a real high point in that it's exceptionally comfortable.
As always, Assos makes a big deal out of all its proprietary fabrics. Usually, it is right to do so, since they are often very good, but in this case, it's mostly irrelevant. One fabric design doesn't seem to give much advantage compared to another. A quality two, or three, layer fabric with good sealing at the ankles will keep water out and warmth in. There are a variety of solutions out there and the Assos design has no great advantage. Parity is not a disadvantage; I just want to keep the focus on what really sets these apart.
I wore these on every terrible winter ride I could throw at them and they performed. When I spent nine hours in weather so cold I didn't understand how it was raining and not snowing, these kept me as comfortable as possible. They are comfortable not only in the face of terrible weather but also when pedalling hard for long hours. There are alternatives but the Assos system is a step above.
The system is also the only negative. The reason hardshell cycling trousers are so important is that they keep your legs and your feet dry in sustained rain. While Assos purports the idea that you might wear the Assos Mille GT Thermo Rain Shell Pants with bib shorts, I don't see that as being a reasonable expectation. You are going to need one of their bib tights with the Geoprene lower leg to make these work. As long as that works for you and your budget, then you'll be buying into one of the best solutions to the worst weather you can realistically ride in.
Tech Specs: Assos Mille GT Thermo Rain Shell Pants
- Price: £210 / $290 / €240 / $400 AU
- Materials: 53% polyamide, 30% polyester, 17% elastane / NEOS Ultra 2-layer upper, NEOS Mild 3-layer groin and lower
- Weight: 223g size small
- Size availability: XS-XLG and TIR (XLG but wider)
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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Weight: 140 lb.
Rides: Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx
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