First Published June 2018 – Price Update 1 August 2019
Ashmei’s men’s bib-shorts are expensive but do come with a level of performance to match
Shorts can make or break a ride. Along with shoes and perhaps gloves where your body makes contact with the bike deserve the best you can afford. The operative word here being ‘afford’ and Ashmei’s latest version of its men’s bib-shorts bring a whole new dimension to the concept .
Out of the box, the first thing that struck me about the shorts were their outward simplicity. Plain black except for a largish white ‘Ashmei’ printed on the left leg.
The shorts are constructed in a microfibre material, 60% polyamide, 40% elastane, with an almost papery feel. It rustles a bit like paper too and is thin, certainly compared with the Lycra material found on other shorts. Thin though doesn’t seem to mean weak in the least and unlike the material of other short it doesn’t become see-thru when stretched. The ‘bib’ is made up of a lower section of mesh with wide shoulder straps edged in dark orange.
Ashmei describe the shorts as ‘semi-compressive’ and that makes getting the sizing correct a little more important than with other brands. Dubbed ‘360° Mapping’ it is designed to take into account the wearer’s physique. I took a size large for the review abased on my shorts in another well know brand but it revealed I was slightly optimistic about my own sizing, but a few training rides helped to remedy that.
The reason for this is the material by its nature isn’t quite as forgiving as some and the shorts felt a little tight at first but in keeping with the claims the pressure is even across the body of the short. The semi-compressive nature of the material also obviates the need for the gripper strip on the leg which removes one source of potential pressure and discomfort. The wide straps fit comfortably even when fully extended on the drops.
The seat pad is a high density foam with a holey ‘swiss cheese’ structure and a smooth velvety cover. As you might expect from a high-end short the pad is sculptured to provide padding in the right places such as the sit-bones while the perineum area is shaped to remove pressure. In wear the pad sits comfortably without feeling bulky and combined with the compressive short material the ‘hold’ means less chance of things moving around.
The overall feel of the shorts is of being gently squeezed in all directions without feeling unpleasant. It was then time for a road test.
If you notice your shorts, something might be wrong, but after several sorties amounting to some 100 miles the shorts were consistently comfortable. With the UK enjoying a long hot spell the temperature during the rides was consistently 30° with a reasonably high humidity so if the shorts were going to be uncomfortable it was going to happen now, but the shorts were consistently comfortable from start to finish, allowing for the usual battering British roads dish out.
Supposedly the material has a water-resistant characteristic but this didn’t have a perceivable impact on breathability and the texture seemed to mitigate against chafing. The seat pad was certainly the equal of other high end shorts with no bunching. In fact despite sweating buckets the seat pad never felt like it was absorbing it. Perhaps the ‘swiss chesse’ structure had something to do with that. The bib straps did their job perfectly with no chafing.
Technically Ashmei’s men’s bib-shorts are a superb product – risk free if you are looking for consistent comfort and performance which is as good as it gets. The design is simplicity itself which for those wanting an understated element to their kit is perfect. They also mean you can wear just about any design of jersey without it clashing.
At £178 (2019 Model) there are few shorts in the same price bracket, for example, the EQUIPE RSR Bib Shorts S9 (£255*), Castelli PREMIO 2 BIBSHORT ( £200*), Rapha Pro Team Bib Shorts II (£195*), but these shorts are also right up there in terms of technical performance, fit and quality of materials so if you can afford them you have a nice problem to solve. making a decision.
*Manufacturers RRP (UK) prices correct as at 1 August 2019