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The phone sits on the workbench, emitting a constant stream of hard-to-decipher words. High-octane race commentary sounds the same in whatever language it’s spoken, but perhaps it’s even more frenetic in Italian. We’re midway through the 2017 Tour de France, and the stage is hot, long, and one for the sprinters, so commentators the world over have their work cut out keeping the tifosi entertained.
As the July 2017 heatwave hits southern Europe, the ACDC test riders find some shade before heading out for yet another ride.
We’re in a garage located on the Swiss–Italian border, observing three riders listening to the race, ears cocked attentively as they get ready for their ride. The conditions in Ticino, Switzerland’s southernmost Italian-speaking canton, mirror that of France on this particular day—a fierce blue sky punctuated with just a few sparse clouds. The three riders are rolling out for another test ride. It’s part of their daily routine week in, week out. Today they praise their good fortune as they don summer riding equipment—not an everyday occurrence as the sun doesn’t always shine down here. Nor, for that matter, anywhere else in the world.
Ride done, the feedback is used in collaboration with ASSOS pattern makers to continue the refinement process.
For ASSOS, the performance of our products is paramount. We’ve never been a company to rely on marketing hype; the focus of our energy lies in the development and refinement of apparel. It stands for more than just accurate thermoregulation or flawless fits. More than just aerodynamics with equipment that scythes through the air. Or an absence of gimmicks. When these three riders head out and brave the heat of a Southern European summer, they’re an integral part of this process. When they scale a high mountain pass and drop down the other side, zipping up a windproof jacket, their feedback is woven directly back into the products. Nothing gets produced that won’t elevate your riding performance to another level.
Tweaking the fit, the details are what make all the difference when it comes to comfort in the saddle.
The garage itself is fairly understated, housed underneath the futuristic-looking ACDC, the company’s Advanced Creative Design Center. When these riders aren’t in the saddle, they’re in an open-plan office, exchanging ideas and know-how among their team of ex-top riders, world-class pattern makers, and industry-leading fabric technicians. Each time a new fabric or even a new prototype emerges from development, it’s met with spirited reactions. There’s a passion among this team that underlines its commitment to outfitting each and every rider, whether you’re riding your commute or racing the WorldTour. The kilometers logged by the in-house test team — males and females alike — are optimistic ones. Even in the wet, when they ride more carefully, or when they’re out mountain biking and the trails have some unexpected gnar.
The hard graft of the testing process: Countless hours in the saddle in all weather are central to making a superior product.
Daniele Nardello rode the Tour de France no fewer than eight times. He lives within riding distance of the office and has put in more kilometres and more prototype testing than anyone else we can think of. A fixed member of the test team since retiring, he has the role of chief product tester, but the scope of his expertise runs much further than this would suggest. Ask him about perspiration or permeability and expect a sound, in-depth answer that applies to both real-world riding and theoretical fabric design. Then there’s Luca Zanasca, a fixture on the Italian MTB marathon scene and elite road rider, as well as ex-pro Giuseppe Ribolzi. Together, they’re part of the chain that produces some of the industry’s smartest textiles and riding equipment. And yes, we’d agree: they do have a pretty good Monday-to-Friday job.
The process — we’d argue that there’s no other brand in cycling that has a development process like ours.