The bib-free Assos H.laalalaiShorts_s7 Lady Shorts showcase Assos' goldenGate construction method, a welcome addition to the Swiss manufacturer's women's line since it may be our favorite recent advancement in cycling shorts technology. GoldenGate involves attaching the chamois at the front and rear, leaving the sides free to float so the chamois moves with your body instead of against it. This effectively relocates friction from the skin/chamois interface to the chamois/shorts, all but eliminating skin irritation in that most sensitive of areas. We're starting to see this feature crop up in other manufacturers' lines but—true to the precedent of history—Assos did it first and continues to do it better.
The rest of the shorts are what you would expect from the self-styled "shorts company," with a compressive, durable fabric arranged anatomically. Your body fits into the shorts, rather than the shorts deforming to fit your body. That keeps all the disparate elements of the shorts—from the forgiving inserts at the leg openings to the gently compressive waistband—in the places where they belong while still affording unfettered movement in the saddle.
The lack of bibs doesn't just address the difficulty of reconciling bib straps with a woman's anatomy. It also lets the H.laalalaiShorts transcend the barriers of warm-weather imposed on other shorts. They're useful as a base layer when temperatures and precipitation start falling, because you can wear them beneath tights without adding undue bulk or interfering with your torso layering strategy. When the weather heads south, you won't be stuck with a terry-cloth winter chamois. Considering that Assos is known as "the shorts company" for a reason, that's a welcome revelation.
In addition to the goldenGate tech mentioned above, the H.laalalaiShorts bring to women's-specific kit the same _s7 chamois technology found throughout Assos' men's line. At the insert's heart is an 8mm-thick memoryFoam material with remarkable return properties, so it quickly resumes its original position and shape after deformation. This essentially fills the gaps between body and chamois created by your pedal stroke while your weight shifts throughout the cycling motions. As you can imagine, the free-floating, goldenGate design also facilitates this gap-free fit, which keeps contact constant to avoid chafing.
Finally, the superAir and waffle construction of the insert's first two layers warrant special attention, as they increase breathability and shed weight through negative space. They also effectively increase the material's surface area, transporting moisture away from your skin to accelerate drying for hours of comfort that go beyond what the insert's low weight would suggest.