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Assos has long set the performance bar for road bib shorts. With the introduction of the Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 – Assos’ first bib shorts made for gravel riding – the obvious question is whether it is the best for those of us out on a long day of off-road riding.

The answer, in a word, is yes.

The Assos Mille GTC Kiespanzer C2 (or Mille GTC for short) brings to these gravel bib shorts many of the cut, fit, and comfort characteristics that have long put the performance of their road bib shorts above others. The Mille GTC also provides gravel-specific capabilities like storage and durability that are as good or superior to other gravel bibs I’ve reviewed.


Best Gravel Bike Shorts

Best Women’s Road Bib Shorts

Best Men’s Road Bib Shorts

At the same time, I think Assos can do better in several specific areas to justify the US$275/£215/€240 price for these gravel shorts, a considerable premium over others.

First and foremost, a comfortable chamois pad is essential to your performance and enjoyment on any bike ride. That’s especially the case if you are doing a 3-5 hour ride or even on dirt and gravel roads.

The Mille GTC uses the same chamois pad used in the Mille road bib shorts. It’s unequaled by any road or gravel bib shorts chamois I’ve tested. And it’s the primary reason I put these shorts on for long rides over unpaved surfaces, especially when I know I’ll be on surfaces rougher than well-maintained dirt roads.

Assos brought other performance strengths from its road bib line to the Mille GTC. Most notably, the material used in the inner legs and across the backside is uniquely Assos – light and comfortable – as are the stretchy and comfortable straps.

In addition, with its first dedicated gravel bib shorts, Assos has added and improved on some of the best performance aspects of gravel shorts from other brands that have been available to us groadies for a couple of years.

Like the Specialized RBX Adventure gravel shorts, the Mille GTC uses the entire lower back area for storage. And while the Assos gravel shorts’ back pockets don’t store as much as the Specialized (but more than all the others I’ve tested), getting into the Assos back pockets and finding what I need is a whole lot easier than with Specialized’s and many of the others.

That’s likely because the Assos Mille GTC has only 2 rear storage pockets (Specialized’s RBX has 5) and the openings to them cut across your lower back at an angle toward your hips rather than requiring you to enter in from the top.

Assos Mille GTC C2 rear pockets

The stretchy and breathable mesh material used in the Assos gravel shorts’ rear pockets keeps whatever I have stored in there from moving as my bike and butt bounce around on rougher gravel sections.

Each back pocket also has 2”/50mm long tags attached at one end to the center of the hems across the opening that you can pull to help you get into them. I’ve found the seam-like hems themselves to be tactile and strong enough that I don’t need to pull on the tags to get into the pockets. But, I do see the value of these pull tags if my hands were getting a bit tired from a long and particularly fatiguing ride.

The Mille GTC’s leg pockets are larger than on all the other gravel shorts I’ve tested. They are positioned so they don’t get in the way of my hips at the top nor feel like whatever I’ve stored in them is hanging off the side of my legs at mid-calf.

Instead of a tactile, seam-like hem sewn at the openings of the leg pockets, Assos merely folds over the mesh material at the top and extends it 2”/50mm down inside of the pocket. It’s like what tailors do when they shorten your dress pant legs.

Except tailors subtly sew the hem to keep it in place. Assos doesn’t and that makes this design a miss for me in three ways.

First, it’s hard to find and open the pockets with only a soft mesh material at the openings.

Second, after going in and out of them a few times to get a fresh gel or put back a wrapper, the hem doesn’t lie flat the way the stretchy seamed openings do on most pockets from other brands and even the rear pockets on the Mille GTC.

Finally, whatever I’m pulling out of the pocket will sometimes get caught in the unsewn, folded-over, soft mesh hem. It’s annoying and totally unnecessary.

Another place where the Mille GTC seems to have adopted and advanced a sound design approach yet still can do better is in the outer leg panels. Assos uses a tough, durable material that seems less likely to rip if you hit the ground. These are sewn to the inner leg and backside panel made of what feels like the same material used in their best road bib shorts.

Other gravel bibs I’ve tested use the same material in their inner and outer leg panels. Most don’t feel as rip-resistant as Assos’ outer leg panel material or as comfortable, stretchy, and breathable as its inner leg material.

However, having separate inner and outer leg panels does have a drawback, at least relative to what I’ve enjoyed so much about Assos’ road bib shorts.

Unlike most other road and gravel bib shorts, Assos road bibs use only one leg shorts panel. It’s sewn together with a seam down the back of each leg. This enables the material to provide even compression around your legs.

With the Mille GTC’s different inner and outer leg panels, two leg seams are needed to attach the two different materials. As a result, I no longer feel compression in the legs except for the sturdy, 1.75”/45mm tall leg grippers. I miss this leg muscle support that  I’ve come to take for granted on long rides in Assos road bib shorts.

Finally, in what perhaps has become my wish list for the next Assos gravel shorts model, I’d welcome a long-leg version. It’s not that the Mille GTC is any shorter than most road or gravel bib shorts or that my legs are particularly long.

Rather, long-leg shorts are especially welcome riding gravel where it’s often cooler on spring and fall rides. You also get extra protection from what kicks up from the trail or you can rub against on single or double-track.

Despite my critiques and wish list items, Assos’ first gravel shorts still perform better than others I’ve reviewed as you can see in the comparative chart above or read in my review of the best gravel bike shorts. And if I’m doing a lot of long gravel rides during the year, as I like to do, spending a bit more money to be more comfortable and store and access more stuff is not a hard decision compared to the benefits those things bring.

You can order the Assos Mille GTC  by clicking these page links to recommended stores Competitive Cyclist, BTD (BikeTiresDirect), Performance Bicycle, Sigma Sports, and BikeInn.

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  • North Shore Louie

    I’m missing something here.

    Why do people riding in gravel need pockets in their bike shorts when road cyclists don’t?

    Why don’t they just use the pockets in the back of their jersey to carry things?

  • Louie, There are two primary reasons why gravel riders benefit from having pockets in their shorts.
    1) Gravel rides tend to be longer than paved road rides with less access to convenience stores or bike shops and more prone to flats and other mechanicals. You tend to carry more stuff – food, tools, spares, etc.
    2) Gravel surfaces tend to be more uneven than paved ones so you bounce around a fair bit more on your saddle. Stuffed jersey pockets also tend to bounce around more than pockets in your bibs that are made with more compression to hold your stuff in place better. Steve

  • According to the review “The Mille GTC uses the same chamois pad used in the Mille road bib shorts”. This is not correct, as GTC uses different, thicker chamois than the other Mille family bib shorts. The GTC chamois is significantly thicker and hence more comfortable when riding off road for longer time.

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