Project Tokyo 2020 — Part 2: CREATE

There is the usual hum in the ASSOS HQ sewing department. The skilled seamstresses go about their usual routine, deftly following processes that have been developed and honed by the ASSOS R&D department. But today is different; they appear to be working with an even keener eye for detail. The reason, it immediately transpires, are the swatches of fabric in the blue, red and black colors of BMC Racing Team covering the tables, in the process of being crafted together to create a certain product.

How do you make something even quicker? Is there a one-size-fits-all solution to speed? It’s a question that keeps many awake at night — from automobiles to bullet trains, bike design to Olympic cycling chronosuits. So much depends on the parcours of the race: where exactly will this race-tuned suit be worn? Even a slight ramp up in the gradient on a course will affect the rider’s position and therefore the aerodynamics — not just of them, but of their kit too.

Back in April the technicians at ASSOS had visited the wind tunnel with BMC Racing Team, armed with five different prototypes for this very product. Their in-house developed materials were working; that much had been confirmed by the wind tunnel. But the outcome of the testing still led them back to the cutting table, honing the product to further improve the world’s best performing speedsuit. At the forefront of their minds were new cuts, adjusted seam positions, and even the eradication of yet more seams.

These new developments were then tested on the road by ASSOS’s Chief Tester, after which feedback was given and further refinements made. Even though we’re dealing with the most advanced piece of apparel created by ASSOS, the process of improvement was the same as any other inline product. Idea, create, refine, prototype, ride, refine.

It’s a circle that could continue indefinitely but as with racing against the clock in a time trial, time waits for no one. With the key races of the year on the horizon, the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France, it was time to see how the fastest riders in the world would perform and feel about wearing some of the fastest clothing.

“I think that the average time that we spend on each of the speed suits is around eight hours,” calculates Nadia Franchinetti, one of the experienced ASSOS seamstresses. She smiles, explaining that a full working day spent on a single product is perhaps unheard of, but their complexity demands concentration to utilize new techniques and manipulate new fabrics. And, naturally, these are not stock sizes. Elite cyclists tend to sit outside the realm of “normal” body shapes, and with their preference on fit and the wind tunnel-stipulated construction, these speed suits are made to measure.

From the fabric cutting to innovative sublimation techniques to lay up the logos, and not discounting the made-to-measure construction and final one-to-one fitting sessions with the riders, these are all done in the name of speed, which is only appropriate for our commitment to make riders faster. Custom made, state-of-the-art chronosuits, ready to be tested by BMC Racing Team at the Tour de France.

Project Tokyo 2020 speedsuit: The facts, and the secrets

  • Number of fabrics used — 5. Composition, form and construction reserved as a secret
  • Number of panels used — Reserved, secret information for ASSOS Technicians only
  • Other information — Reserved, secret information for ASSOS Technicians only