If you want a jersey that falls towards the mountain bike side of the style equation but with the features that make it workable on a drop-bar bike then the Assos Mille GTC C2 Short Sleeve jersey does the trick.
- Fabric choices feel great against the skin
- Quarter zip design allows for off-the-bike style without too much droop when leaned forward
- Side panels add extra ventilation and stretch
- Primary panels use an extra durable interlock knit fabric
- Placement of security pocket makes it mostly unusable
For better, or worse, there's very established rules when it comes to what makes sense to wear on a road bike. Putting together a list of the best cycling jerseys for road bike use is more about picking between the many choices rather than understanding what makes sense to put in there. On the other side of the continuum, the mountain bike jersey is just as established. The mountain bike community may claim to eschew the kind of rules that road cycling has a reputation for but there's obvious trends. Then there's gravel cycling.
Gravel cycling as an established genre is new. There's still a lot of figuring out and what exists covers a wider spectrum than either road or mountain biking. With the Mille GTC collection Assos is throwing their hat in the ring and putting their mark on what gravel cycling is. As with other items bearing the Mille name, the Mille GTC collection represents an offering for the non-competitive side of gravel. We've now had a chance to spend time with the Mille GTC C2 gravel jersey and are ready to share our thoughts on what it does well and what could use some work. If you are looking for a summer jersey to use for bikepacking and endurance gravel riding, keep reading to see if Assos has the right product for you.
Design and aesthetics
As mentioned, no one really knows what the style of gravel cycling is. Instead of everyone coalescing around a concise style, there's a few camps, with the Mille GTC C2 jersey Assos going all in on the loose top and tight bibs trend. Gravel cycling isn't mountain biking though and different bikes call for different needs from a jersey.
With the fit, the Mille GTC C2 jersey is all mountain bike, at least at first glance. It's light, airy and relaxed. If you've tried a road jersey with the same regularFit label, the fit here is looser. Through the torso it's the same as the Trail jersey T3 but it's a bit shorter. In the arms, the fit is the same but the length is, again, shorter. Somewhere between the most aggressive aero race jersey and traditional jersey sleeve.
Look more closely at the design of the mountain bike T3 jersey and the Mille GTC and you'll really start to notice the difference. Instead of the same fabric throughout, with only a front and rear panel, the Mille GTC C2 pulls in some of the road details and there's an extra panel at each side of the torso. It flattens the front and back changing the style a bit but there's also performance advantages. The fabric choice is what Assos refers to as "Sense ST" and it feels like a road jersey might but it's closer to a very fine mesh. There's a lot more stretch than the rest of the jersey and if you pull it tight between your fingers you can see through it. On the sides of the jersey, as well as in the collar and end of the sleeves where it also shows up, the point is to help facilitate evaporation of sweat.
The rest of the Mille GTC C2 jersey uses the same "Triangle" fabric as the T3 jersey. Triangle is an interlocking circular knit fabric that is a little bit heavier than your typical summer road bike jersey. The extra thickness comes from the nature of an interlocked knit structure and the thickness is more of a side effect than the point. The point is that it's much more robust with greater ability to hold up to the rigors of bikepacking. If you find yourself using a hydration pack, there should be no need to worry about snagging a delicate fabric.
One of the biggest differences between a mountain bike and a gravel bike, in relation to a jersey design, is how far bent over you are likely to be. Solving this challenge means that instead of a crew neck design, the Mille GTC C2 gets a taller neck and quarter zip. If you prefer the style, unzip and fold back the collar. It does a good job matching the Zeppelin cargo shorts like this. If you need to lean forward more, without the jersey dangling in your face, zip things up. The hybrid, zipped, look also does a great job of nailing the baggy short and bike short style.
Testing the Assos Mille GTC C2 Short Sleeve jersey meant a few rides on the gravel bike at a mellow pace. Initially I paired it with the Mille GTC C2 Kiespanzer Bib shorts and spent a lot of time trying to decide just what kind of trendy I felt I could pull off. The look leans towards the fashion magazine trend of baggy tops and fake bike shorts. I wasn't sure I could make it work.
Typically, I'd either go for a fitted short over bibs and a technical T or, more often, a full roadie look but with added pockets along the lines of the MAAP Alt Road Cargo bib shorts. The style Assos is pushing falls somewhere in the middle. The zippered upper and tall collar pulls from road styling while the overall silhouette looks a lot like a mountain bike jersey. It took me a few rides to feel comfortable in it but it's hard to deny the comfort of the looser fit. Whatever you end up pairing with the jersey, it feels as good off the bike as on. The quarter zip gives the opportunity of unzipping and folding the collar down if that feels like a better look to you.
The focus on style is because a big part of what makes this jersey what it is, has to do with style. It's an option for finding the right look that expresses your style on the bike. Colours are a muted dark green, and a grey, there's no rear pockets and it's trying to speak to a certain style of riding where the days are long but mellow. It's different enough from other options out there that it took me a bit of adjustment. In the end though I found it to be reasonably fluid and depending on how I wore it, and what I paired it with, it works in a lot of different ways.
Those same casual rides, through heavy tree cover, during a cool spring left my ability to judge actual performance a bit lacking. Given the thicker fabric, and loose fit, I had worries about hot weather performance. When the sky clouded over and the rain came through, I decided there was an opportunity to test inside. Is there any environment more demanding of hot weather performance?
Spending hours riding hard with minimal airflow gave a lot of insight into how the Assos Mille GTC C2 Short Sleeve jersey handles not only heat but also drop bar specific details. The fabric is thick but the wicking performance is excellent. I felt no worse off in the heat than other summer jerseys. The side panels are particularly adept at keeping a bit of air moving through the jersey.
The other thing I found worked well was the zipper and collar. There's enough structure in the jersey that you can get the zip down with one hand. Keep it at the top though and when you bend over the bars it keeps the looser fit from falling in front of your face. Even down in a TT position I never felt like I was drowning in the front of the jersey. What was less successful though was the side pocket.
There are no pockets on the rear of the jersey but there is one pocket on the right side at about elbow height. There's a zipper to make sure that whatever is in there stays in there. Where things start to fall apart is when you realise that the inside of the pocket is stitched to the outside of the jersey to orient it forward. The idea seems to be to keep the contents stable but there's not enough structure in the rest of the jersey to do that. The loose fit means anything with any weight will just pull forward and down.
There's also the matter of getting things out. The forward orientation means you can only use your right hand to remove something from the pocket but the placement near your elbow makes that an awkward proposition. If the pocket was instead attached to the rear of the jersey it would be far more usable. As it is, you'll want to leave it empty aside from perhaps a house key. It's not a visual asset either as it's largely hidden.
Even the best performance gear is a style choice. You can talk about the ways the design optimises aerodynamics and wicking but wearing a tight-fitting cycling kit is a certain look. If you'd rather be a bit more casual in your style there are a lot of options for technical T-shirts but Assos has a different take on it. They've married a mountain bike jersey to an endurance road jersey. In doing so they've combined an off-road style with the features that make it workable off-road on a drop bar bike.
Mostly, it's a success. The single side pocket doesn't work but other features do. The fabric is robust enough to handle the abrasion of a backpack but manages to handle heat despite a bit of extra heft. You can unzip the collar and fold it back for a relaxed style that works off the bike and you can zip it up so even on aero bars your shirt isn't in your face. If the style appeals to you, the performance is there.
|Pocket Useability||Bad placement and no structure.||0/5|
|Fit||Loose but fits as expected||5/5|
|Zipper Quality||High quality pull, it doesn't move down, it's possible to operate with one hand||5/5|
|Fashion appeal (does it look/feel good)||Different than most, may not appeal to everyone||3/5|
|Quality of fabrics||High quality materials are a hallmark of Assos products||5/5|
Tech Specs: Assos Mille GTC C2 Short Sleeve jersey
- Price: £110 / $160 / €130 / AU$220
- Weight: 137 grams in size small
- Size availability: XS-XLG and TIR (XLG but wider)
- Colour Options: Schwarzwald Green, torpedoGrey
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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 minutia 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: 137 lb.
Rides: Orbea Orca Aero, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx