The Assos airJack was the jacket that changed the rule book for cycling apparel. Combining a windproof front panel with an exact fit, the airJack was a weatherproof masterpiece that skewed the line between jersey and jacket. Well, times have changed, the competition has gotten smarter, and Assos realized that it was time to step up the airJack's game. Going back to the drawing board, Assos has managed to revolutionize the cycling world again with the successor to the throne, the iJ.bonka.6 Mille Jacket.Like the older top, the bonka is partially windproof, partially not. That's how it gets the climaRange.6 designation, which is considered to be the above-freezing temperatures of winter. The chest and arm panels that face the wind take advantage of Assos TwinDeckFoiling to keep the cold at bay. It has two layers, one windproof and one insulating. The outer-layer is the strataGonUltra material -- Assos' new waterproof, breathable, and flexible membrane that's less breathable when cold and more breathable as the air directly next to the membrane heats up. This allows it to retain more heat when you're cold and to be more breathable once you heat up and start to sweat. The inner-layer is Assos' RXQ fabric, a lightweight stretch fabric that's smooth on one side and fleecy on the other. The inner-arms are made from strataGonMedium, a lighter, stretchier, and more vapor-permeable version of the Ultra. This material provides both a better fit and more enhanced ventilation. The Medium is also found on the side panels. The back panel consists of the RX fabric, a heavyweight stretch fabric that's alternately smooth and fleecy. And the bottom hem, in the back, has Assos' rear stabilizer to hold the jacket in place.The bonka also does a few new tricks. There is extra shaping at the elbow for greater comfort. The jacket also comes with a thin turtleneck layer you can either put on or leave at home. However, if the temperature is low, we recommend wearing it, as the turtleneck helps seal the collar from the elements. This touch is doubtlessly inspired by the many cyclists who borrow 'neck gaiters' from the ski drawer to help keep their necks warm on the coldest of days. The difference here, though, is that those are typically bulky and this is thin and designed to fit between the collar and your neck. Assos has longer more relaxed rides in the mindset for the MILLE, incorporarting the regularFit tailoring for this jacket. If you're looking for the over-the-top, skinny Euro fit, try the Cento.The Assos iJBonka.6 Mille Jacket is available in the colors Black Volkanga, Red Swiss, and White Panther. It also comes in six sizes from Small to TIR. The jacket falls into Assos' climaRange.6, or in non-Assos-speak, winter. By Assos' calculations, you can expect total protection in temperature ranges from around 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Strengths: obvious high quality, great syle, functions as advertised
Weaknesses: Cost Locally this jacket is MSRP of $549 which is pretty close to double the price of other manufacturers jackets intended for the same climate and temperature range. Just a little too windproof.
My cycling kit has worked for me down to about 5 or 6 degrees C but we still get 4 to 6 weeks of temperatures that are closer to 2 or 3 so I started looking at a new jacket. One of the local shops recently started to carry ASSOS a luxury brand previously only available by mail. I have a pair of Assos wind block tights and I know how good they are in the cold so I started to look for a Bonka Jacket. I won an Ebay auction and got this jacket far below retail so already I can't lose. Well it is warmer for sure and is very effective at blocking the wind and this is where I am now. I am learning about what layers are effective and at what temperatures. I went for a 2 1/2 hour ride at 1.5 to 2.5 degrees C and I never felt cold so it is definitely warm enough for just at freezing. This past Sunday I did a 3 hour ride in 7 to 9 degrees with the same upper body coverage and lighter tights and I was pretty wet in the sleeves from sweating but the body was dry. So a long sleeve base layer, a fleecy winter jersey and the Bonka jacket and it is too warm above 6 degrees C. I have yet to try base layer and jacket alone but at this temperature I think it will work.
The jacket is made extremely well and has every detail from an elastic tube on the chest to hang your Assos sunglasses, to little windows in the security pockets for earbuds or an earphone and the Mille fit is great for my 5'10", 165 pond frame. Just tight enough with a little room for the belly to grow. It is still a lot closer to racer cut than commuter.
My first cycling jacket for cold weather was open foam sandwiched between a very tightly woven facing layer that could be sublimated like a racing jersey and a open mesh on the inside. The jacket was not windproof but very wind resistant and at the end of any ride you would find your skin stayed dry and warm. My Craft wind Stopper jacket is similar to the Assos Jacket in that the facing is wind stopper and the sleeves are 3/4 wrapped in wind stop but it stops keeping me warm around 6 C. This Assos jacket is about the warmest cycling jacket I have tried but I think getting the layering correct could be a little more challenging to get just right and I am learning.
So price is a huge obstacle with Assos. Yes they are some of the highest quality garments I have seen and every piece of Assos clothing I have owned (not many) outlast the competition but not twice as good or twice as long lived. Obviously not everyone wins a great Ebay auction either. I believe this jacket will look great and serve me for a decade, if not longer because of the limited winter use. I just cannot say that they are double the quality or value of 250 dollar jackets but if you can afford it you will be pleased with the function and detail. Get North American prices down to the prices I find online from GB or Europe and I think Assos could capture a lot of the high end technical wear. My father used to say only a rich man can afford cheaply made things and I hold that to be true but I cannot quite recommend this jacket at $550. At 400 I would not have gone to ebay as I think this is a lot closer to the real value/cost line.
Bottom line is the jacket lives up to the advertising but you have to decide if that translates to value for you. At the price I paid I would give the jacket 6 stars but at the normal retail price I would give it 4 stars and loss of rating is simply a cost/benefit opinion. real great quality in the construction and detail.