Level.13: An Open Letter to Assos

03.5.2013 | 2:03 pm

Dear Assos,

I was recently perusing the April 2013 edition of Peloton magazine when I happened upon your new ad.

Now, I firmly believe that when a company does something right, they ought to hear about it. They deserve our praise and respect. And that’s why I’m writing to you today: to give you kudos for your latest ad, supporting your limited edition SS.Lady ellisse jersey:


While I might quibble with your subpar Photoshopping skills, Assos, I can’t help but admire the fact that for your ad, you put a woman on a bike, in the outdoors, wearing biking clothing.

And while I personally believe that the jersey featured in this ad makes a personal statement along the lines of “I really miss 1974,” that’s neither here nor there.

The important thing is you show admirable respect for your female riders, treating them as what they are: an important part of our cycling community.

Oh, hang on. Wait a second. Hm. 

Well, this is embarrassing. 

As it turns out, that image above is something I put together myself in Photoshop. Here’s the ad you actually placed in Peloton:


In my defense, these ads are so similar to each other that it’s easy to see why I mixed the two up. After all, in both cases, the women are kneeling, wearing spike heels, and form-fitting shiny vinyl pants (over ridiculously sticklike legs) that  are specially designed to be so movement-restricting that they come with a warning that says, “WARNING: DO NOT WEAR.”

So the ads may be different in some ways, I guess. 

What Is It?

Assos, if this were just an ad featuring a girl — with legs so twiglike that it’s hard to imagine her walking – kneeling (nowhere near a bike) and wearing clothes that are specially designed to be bike-prohibitive, I’d just let the whole thing go. 

But I’m so confused, and I need your help. Specifically, I have been brought to tears over the near-impossibility of understanding your ad copy:


Oh sure, everything starts out just fine. I get “NEW” — it tells me this is a new jersey. I get “sS.ladyEllisse” — this is just a peculiar name for a jersey, but no moreso than “Oldsmobile Omega” is a peculiar name for a car, I suppose.

So we’re just going to let those parts go.

But then there’s the heading above the ad copy: “What Is It?”

Now, I think this heading is probably meant to be a question the ad copy addresses, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. Instead, “What Is It?” is the question I was left with after reading this:

It’s the ASSOS celebration of the year 2013! ladyEllisse was created and designed as a tribute to our female customers and to please the eyes of the entire ASSOS community. Number 13 has a special place in the ASSOS world: it’s level 13, symbolizing the manga.Yio state of mind, the perfect ride, ASSOS nirvana.

Well, of course. That all makes perfect sense. Except for the way it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Unless, of course, you’re willing to go down the ASSOS-flavored rabbit hole, that is. In which case it begins to make a scary, twisted, creepy kind of sense. By which I mean, the kind of sense you would expect from a clothing company that shows an anorexic model dressed from the waist down in bondage-wear and calls it “a tribute to our female customers.”

Let us break it down, shall we?

Level 13

In your ad, Assos, you tell us that:

Number 13 has a special place in the ASSOS world: it’s level 13….

So this is a special jersey because it’s the year 2013, which reminds you of level 13.


But what, pray tell, is level 13

Well, I browsed, surfed, explored, and otherwise tried to find there’s no explanation of level 13 on the Assos site. Unless, of course, you take the arcane and devilishly clever step of searching for it using an obscure-but-powerful search engine known as Google.

At which point, you wind up with ASSOS’ very comprehensive description of level 13, which — I want to be absolutely clear here — I am not making up even a tiny bit:

Perfect World
In the real world, there are 50 million cyclists, but only a very few can join Manga.Yio. Qualify yourself & join!

In the course of a man’s life (lady’s too), he (she) reaches various levels and hopefully passes onto the next. The higher the level, the more difficult it gets to move up:

Level 0 birth
Level 1 party, party
Level 2 sex
Level 3 show time
Level 4 knowledge

Then, the privileged ones, move on to

Level 5 wisdom

For normal people, that is the top level of life. But, a selected few cyclists go on and explore the ultimate dimension of inner-balance:


The understanding that a “little thing” called riding your bicycle is the key to personal fulfilment and well-being!

  • Living a luxury life does not require millions.
  • It’s not about lifestyle, it’s about health status.
  • Details don’t matter anymore.
  • A world ruled by concentrated, pure emotions.
  • An environment reduced to the essence.
  • Communication without talking.
  • No interferences, no hold ups; everything tuned to your personal frequency.
  • And whatever you do, it just feels perfect.

Manga.Yio – where YOU determine the pace of the ride. Fit the profile & join.

ASSOS welcomes you!

I’ve read and re-read this philosophy, and I have a few questions and observations.

  1. Shouldn’t levels 2 and 3 be switched?
  2. Why is there a period after “Level” in “Level.13?” 
  3. When I read “A world ruled by concentrated, pure emotions,” I think of an eighteen-month-old child, having a tantrum. Is that what you’re going for in Level.13?
  4. I assume that “Communication without talking” means that one conveys meaning primarily through the medium of waggling one’s eyebrows meaningfully, punctuated with the flaring of one’s nostrils. And maybe sometimes wearing very tight, shiny pants. Also, I feel I should point out that pre-verbal children communicate without talking…through the medium of tantrums.
  5. When you say “details don’t matter anymore,” you’re not doing a ton to bolster my confidence in your dedication to quality products. JFYI.
  6. When you say “Living a luxury life does not require millions,” is that a willful suspension of disbelief kind of thing? As in, we’re not supposed to consider your pricing?
  7. “No interferences, no hold ups; everything tuned to your personal frequency” — hm. Let’s see. That reminds me of something again. If only I could think of what it is.
More than anything else, though, Assos, this explanation of Level.13 makes me think that you’re just lazy, skipping levels 6 through 12 like that. Or maybe it’s part of the “details don’t matter anymore” aspect of the Level.13 philosophy?

Regardless, based on my thorough understanding of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (i.e., I read about it on Wikipedia once), I think I can interpolate what would go between levels 5 and 13:

  • Level 6 impertinence
  • Level 7 despair
  • Level 8 I forget what 8 was for
  • Level 9 the all-too-frequent consumption of cheese-flavored snack foods
  • Level 10 red sports car
  • Level 11 irritating tendency to make jokes about “this one goes to 11″
  • Level 12 Cialis

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? I even bolded them for you and everything.


Sadly, the “Level.13″ nonsense is only a fraction of the ridiculously cryptic ad copy here, Assos. In the same sentence as the “Level 13″ schtick — as if we haven’t already been thoroughly beaten about the head and shoulders with ad copy that ought to come with a decoder ring — you tell us that Level 13 symbolizes “the manga.Yio state of mind.”

As if we didn’t already know that. Pfff.

So, being the courageous user of Google that I am, I go ahead and try to find what these mystical, mysterious words —  ”manga.Yio” — could possibly mean.

It must be something secret. Something that commands reverence. Something as deep as Level.13 itself.

Or maybe it’s just the name of a store in Switzerland where you can buy Assos stuff.

Yep, that’s really all it is. So when you’re in “the manga.Yio state of mind,” they mean you’re in the state of mind of a really pretentious-looking store, with hardly anything in it. Here, take a look:

So what is the concept behind this store / state of mind? Well, both manga.Yio and I are very glad you asked:


In Ticino, Lugano, Switzerland, “Terra di Ciclismo” and home of ASSOS, the Assos manga.Yio is the Assos Experience Superstore. It’s more than a store.

Assos manga.Yio is fully focused on the Assos values. See, feel, touch & endorse.

Assos manga.Yio, where you can live the unique Assos experience

Assos manga.Yio, where you can indulge, share and receive answers.

Assos manga.Yio, that showcases and makes available our entire Assos product collection

Assos manga.Yio, created to identify and service your needs.

Assos manga.Yio, to provide your perfect outfit for your perfect ride.

Questions? We do have the answers.

We strive to have only happy customers. And we are happy when our customers enjoy a perfect ride!

Thank you for visiting & enjoy Assos.

“A situation which I dislike very much, is to find myself in a restaurant with an endless choice of courses. Total confusion and waste of time. What I appreciate instead, is having the cook welcoming me, looking in my eyes, identifying my needs and finally serving me the dish I was dreaming of.” Nice!

Roche Maier?
créateur & ceo Assos of Switzerland SA

Or in other words, manga.Yio is a store where instead of you buying what you want, some guy stares at you for a minute and then tells you what you get to buy. (thirty-year financing available upon request).

I am so excited to visit manga.Yio, Assos. And you can bet I’ll come over as soon as I reach Level.13. 

Assuming, of course, I can walk that far when wearing these shiny black pants.

Kind Regards,



  1. Comment by Ellen Cooke | 03.5.2013 | 2:17 pm

    I hope you sent them a copy of your evaluation. As a female cyclist, ads like this actually make me NOT want to buy their clothing. They are just one of many that have their advertizing totally wrong. If someone actually talks to other female cyclists and looks at their bodies, they are nothing like what they are trying to show here. I do not beleive there are many female cyclists that are out there riding to see if they can be the next fasion model on a New York runway. I will stop here because I could go on about many more things the industry has wrong about women.

    As someone who is a husband to and friend of some female cyclists, I’m right there with you. – FC

  2. Comment by Jack in Hagerstown | 03.5.2013 | 2:18 pm

    Forget the pants (on second thought, don’t). I want to see you make it there in those spike heels!

  3. Comment by Tom in Albany | 03.5.2013 | 2:27 pm

    The thought of you wearing those shiny, tight pants is in open conflict with the laws of physics! That is to say, two objects cannot occupy the same location in space and time. So, you want to wear those pants, learn time travel!

  4. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.5.2013 | 2:38 pm

    “….dressed from the waist down in bondage-wear”

    Do I want to ask your familiarity with “bondage wear’? Maybe you just Googled that too….oh, that’s also disturbing.

    You have reached a new and lofty height. Many of us may remember your Luxury Body letter to Assos [Comedian Mastermind page 22-27] (those that don’t can order the book through Fatty’s link above) Based on the ‘friend of a friend’ comment, I’ve added more Assos stock to my portfolio.

    Well done Fatty!

  5. Comment by aussie kev | 03.5.2013 | 2:38 pm

    I snorted at

    12: cialis

    very funny

  6. Comment by JimD in IL | 03.5.2013 | 2:39 pm

    I cannot wait to hear Dr. Michael Lammler’s opinion…

  7. Comment by Brian in VA | 03.5.2013 | 2:39 pm

    Does Roche Maier, createur and ceo of Assos, really sign his name with a query after it? How can we trust an organization where the leader isn’t even sure of his own name?

    I could see you giggling the entire time you were writing this. Am I correct?

    This store feels like it was conceived and executed by the marketing team of Starbucks – motto – Making up names for stuff for many years!

  8. Comment by Anonymous | 03.5.2013 | 2:40 pm

    Paging Dr. Lammler…Dr. Michael Lammler…You are needed here STAT!!

  9. Comment by aussie kev | 03.5.2013 | 2:41 pm

    and i see on the top picture even though she is in shorts and a short sleeved top, its obviousley cold !!!


  10. Comment by roan | 03.5.2013 | 2:41 pm

    Hummmm…Level.13 shouldn’t that fall between Level 0 (birth) and Level 1 (party, party)? Back in the day…I wasn’t even thinking of 3 wheels, yet ASSOS…just two orbs…maybe…I just don’t remember.

  11. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.5.2013 | 2:53 pm

    Seriously off topic (Assos): I want to give a Shout Out to MattC. If you never click on his name, you’ll never get over to his blog(http://inane-asylum2.blogspot.com/) you won’t hear about his commitment to the animals he brings into his home ($$$) or his fascination with Christmas lights.

    More importantly you will not read a GEAT story about bike memories, and his brothers.

    I’d like to suggest those that are coming to Davis in June, search their archives or their parents archives, collect any early pictures they can, and let’s share them in June. I’m confident Fatty can make something of it….or of us.

  12. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.5.2013 | 2:54 pm

    let’s try that link again:

  13. Comment by Sara | 03.5.2013 | 2:55 pm

    Wow. I’m so glad I didn’t accidentally open a magazine and find that ad myself. I mean the picture is degrading enough, but then to actually say that they create their clothing to “please the eyes of the entire ASSOS community” immediately below that picture? Thank you for easing the shock of it by photo-shopping the first picture. That was nice of you.

    Good shout out to Violent Femmes, there – it’s how I feel about Assos clothing now more than ever: KISS OFF! :)

  14. Comment by ZooterToot | 03.5.2013 | 2:57 pm

    Nevermind “…to please the eyes of the entire ASSOS community.” WTF? I don’t think “the perfect ride” they are referring to has anything to do with a bike…

  15. Comment by Sthenic | 03.5.2013 | 2:57 pm

    Aerodynamic TT pants?

  16. Comment by Wife#1 | 03.5.2013 | 2:58 pm

    I’m oh so very tempted to post a picture of me in my new bike shorts. But then I decided I like you all too much.

    Seriously though…. I have no words. Me.. no words! It’s the first sign of the apocalypse!

  17. Comment by Rose | 03.5.2013 | 3:10 pm

    I rarely comment but this has got to be one of your funniest posts ever.

    “waggling one’s eyebrows meaningfully, punctuated with the flaring of one’s nostrils”


    “Level 8 I forget what 8 was for”

    had me laughing hysterically.

    Thanks for the humor!

  18. Comment by Karena | 03.5.2013 | 3:20 pm

    I just sent Assos an email saying that despite liking the quality and comfort of their products, their sexist advertising has driven me to Rapha. Also great luxury products, and their website has some awesome photographs of women bicycling.

  19. Comment by GenghisKhan | 03.5.2013 | 3:25 pm

    What restaurants is Roche eating at?! (excuse the dangling)

  20. Comment by Anonymous | 03.5.2013 | 3:39 pm

    Love that your version of the ad occurs at the bottom of the Jacob’s Ladder DH.

    Cool that you recognize it. Do you know who the legs, bike, and arms belong to? – FC

  21. Comment by Mark | 03.5.2013 | 3:51 pm

    Based on level 8, shouldn’t level 10 be: EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING!

    It would fit right in there nicely on the whole tantrum theme, as well as the Kiss Off theme.

    Nice work!

  22. Comment by Anonymous | 03.5.2013 | 3:55 pm

    I recognize the bike too. I’ve seen the Hammer on it.

    Dingdingding! – FC

  23. Comment by jordanp | 03.5.2013 | 3:56 pm

    Nice post, though I could do without the “stick legs” comments. I have legs like that, and I ride 150+ miles per week. Some of us are just skinny no matter how much we ride. Plus, making fun of a woman’s body seems pretty incongruous with a post calling for a bit more respect for us ladies, you know?

  24. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.5.2013 | 4:06 pm

    See, when you can’t even decide on one or two languages as your countries’ “official language”, you apparently lose the ability to communicate altogether.

    Of course this does not excuse the blatant and, apparently, unconscious sexism. Maybe that is because they think level 2 is before level 4 and level 5.

  25. Comment by Kukui | 03.5.2013 | 4:07 pm

    So funny!!! My favorite ad tear-down yet! =)

    And, nice job on the photoshop. I was all impressed with Assos’ ad relevancy (aside from the fact that the model was apparently mountain biking without a helmet…) until I scrolled further down and read the end of that paragraph!

  26. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.5.2013 | 4:09 pm

    @jodanp – I think if you look at Fatty’s first Open Letter to ASSOS, you will see that he is poking fun at ASSOS for selecting a person who does not ride a bicycle as a cycling model. I don’t believe Fatty is poking fun at the model’s body.

  27. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.5.2013 | 4:47 pm

    I think we should ’shoot’ the first Fat Cyclist calendar at Davis this summer. Anyone have a camera…and some Assos?

  28. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.5.2013 | 4:53 pm

    Re; Anonymous above:

    Let’s see if I have this right. You photoshopped the model’s head onto your wife’s body 2 days after returning from your anniversary weekend? I see a trip to Tiffany’s in your future!

  29. Trackback by UFies.org | 03.5.2013 | 4:53 pm

    An Open Letter to Assos…

    You don’t have to be into cycling to appreciate this Open Letter to Assos over at Fatcyclist.com Now, I firmly……

  30. Comment by Ian | 03.5.2013 | 4:56 pm

    This post was really, really good right up until the Violent Femmes reference at which point it became transcendent.

  31. Comment by Saso | 03.5.2013 | 5:07 pm

    I think you are just trying to get a copywriting job with Assos and live a Level.13 luxury life afterwards.

    I am sorry but your English is too ordinary for that.

  32. Comment by Bee T | 03.5.2013 | 5:19 pm

    I really don’t understand what everyone’s problem is. I always wear my bondage pants and strappiest stilettos on the club ride, every week.

    Doesn’t everyone?


  33. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 03.5.2013 | 5:22 pm

    Classic Fatty – you’ve still got it! I’m sure this post pretty much wrote itself. I mean this ad is like giving Derek Jeter a softball pitch – POW!

  34. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 03.5.2013 | 6:28 pm

    Hi, my name is Doug and I am clearly not ready for level.13

    Thank goodness……….

  35. Comment by KanyonKris | 03.5.2013 | 6:29 pm

    When I looked up the address for Assos Corporate Headquarters in Google Maps it says it’s a mental institution. See the movie “Crazy People” for more information.

  36. Comment by Beth | 03.5.2013 | 6:46 pm

    As a female cyclist, I cannot thank you enough for ‘clarifying’ this ad!

  37. Comment by JB | 03.5.2013 | 6:47 pm

    Clearly you missed the press release


  38. Comment by ladyfleur | 03.5.2013 | 7:01 pm

    @clydesteve I’m with jordanp on this one. Plenty of people who ride bikes have slender legs, even some really really fast people who regularly kick my butt, despite my well-developed cyclist thighs.

    The model’s figure is not the issue, nor in my book that they used a model that’s probably not a racer. They issue is the clothing choice and modeling pose.

  39. Comment by Eric L | 03.5.2013 | 7:02 pm

    Are those stilettos SPD compatible?

  40. Comment by AlwaysWrong | 03.5.2013 | 7:17 pm

    So we aren’t supposed to ride our bike’s in leather pants and stilettos? That explains so many of my chafing problems. Let me tell you – there is no amount of chamois butter in the world that protects against LBBS (leather butt bicycle syndrome).

  41. Comment by Rachel | 03.5.2013 | 7:44 pm

    I used to complain about the degradation of women in advertisements for women, where it should seem illogical.
    I used to complain about the fact that women’s gear so often came only in pink and purple with frills and bows.

    But now I’ve given up. I trust marketers. Marketers market products in certain ways because they sell. When an ad campaign really does anger people, or make them not want to buy it, the company abandons the concept.
    The fact that women’s bike clothing is advertised with half bondage gear tells me that women are buying Assos based on that brand. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t advertise that way.
    If every woman who complained about an ad refused to buy the advertised product, and better yet, wrote a letter to the company explaining why, ads would completely change.
    But they don’t. They buy the products. And the marketers continue to use what works, even though women say they don’t like the ads.

    I am female. I would love to see more products for female-shaped bodies without the issues mentioned. But the majority of the people voting with their wallets apparently don’t actually feel the same way.

  42. Comment by Spiff | 03.5.2013 | 8:24 pm

    Come on! Those tights are so aero muscles are rendered obsolete. Those heels – cleverly hiding an aero foil profile while maintaining the 1:3 profile requirements for each section…oh wait…they were trying to sell that ugly a$$ shirt?!? Perhaps it’s technical gear for their “hair dancing” line.

  43. Comment by Alison | 03.5.2013 | 9:42 pm

    I wonder what the age cutoff is to catch the Violent Femmes reference? My favorite part of a great blog post.
    Seriously, that was a stunningly bad ad from Assos. Not even worth the effort it would take to roll my eyes.

  44. Comment by ladyfleur | 03.5.2013 | 11:49 pm

    @Rachel Maybe the issue is that male cyclists with bondage fetish are buying these “podium” women’s jerseys for their ladies at home in hopes that they’ll spank their butts raw. (oops, that comment was a bit raw)

    Seriously, I suspect this ad from ASSOS is an attempt to make their products appealing to the mid-life guy that buys a Porsche or Corvette to drown his sorrows from not making VP. Translated for the cycling world, that’s the guy whose mid-life butt now gets dropped on climbs and can’t win the town line sprint anymore. They don’t have the legs anymore, but they’ve got the $$.

    I honestly don’t think they’re selling to women in Peloton magazine.

  45. Comment by Alex | 03.6.2013 | 12:16 am

    This maybe one of the best Fatty blog posts ever. Ever.

  46. Comment by Leedo | 03.6.2013 | 12:21 am

    I especially love the video game soundtrack over the video, which my phone tells me is “Ghost in the Machine Part 2″ by Rogue State & Artisan. Really brings me up to at least level 8.

  47. Comment by Sylvia | 03.6.2013 | 12:42 am

    Very, very, funny. Yes, clearly the ad has nothing to do with selling anything to *women*.

  48. Comment by McCranker | 03.6.2013 | 3:31 am

    Yeah, those pants are ridiculous. Wait a tick, didn’t Johnny Tomac sport a body suit made of the same stuff back in the 90s? Way ahead of his time he was.


  49. Comment by Caroline | 03.6.2013 | 4:21 am

    Anorexic is not a synonym for skinny. I am a female cyclist and I’m probably thinner than the model. If you want the cycling world to be more supportive to women, consider keeping the armchair diagnosis of severe mental illnesses to yourself.

    (I agree that the add is ridiculous, but surely there are other ways to express that?)

  50. Comment by Fifth Column | 03.6.2013 | 6:37 am

    Maybe this Manga.Yio stuff is the Swiss version of Lorem Ipsum copy filler?

  51. Comment by rica | 03.6.2013 | 7:15 am

    oh my. first of all i laughed out loud when i got to your joke about photoshopping. i thought of the first ad ‘well obviously she doesn’t look like most women bikers but that doesn’t seem too offensive’.

    but the real ad? unbelievable. i normally buy Peloton. it seems like the new issue would be a waste of money. i don’t offend easily but i feel like i need a shower after seeing that disgusting ad.

  52. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 03.6.2013 | 7:35 am

    Thank you, Fatty! That ad was terrible. Ignoring everything else and looking only at the jersey, it doesn’t even look like it would be comfortable or fit particularly well. FAIL.

  53. Comment by Mark | 03.6.2013 | 7:40 am

    I mean look at those stilettos….. they don’t even have cleats on them!

    The marketing to cyclists has gotten silly for sure.

  54. Comment by Ginger-Schminger | 03.6.2013 | 8:58 am

    Wow…just wow.

  55. Comment by J. Hughes | 03.6.2013 | 9:07 am


    I really shouldn’t read these things while drinking my morning coffee.

  56. Comment by Marsupial Matt (formerly known as MattC) | 03.6.2013 | 9:28 am

    Holy cats…I get busy and miss ONE DAY and things go totally NUTS here! That was one funny ass(os) roasting Fatty…I was looking at the first ad wondering what all the fuss was about, and thinking how strange it was that the shadow has her helmet on. Then it was all explained…you sir are indeed a master of Photoshop! (I’m a mere grasshopper to you the zen master for sure!)

    I think every ad they’ve done leaves me wondering what planet they are from. I guess their product is nice…for those who have more money than they know what to do with. I personally shop down near the other end of the scale.

    Last Friday I was waiting to get my car out of the shop (my 2nd timing belt…I’m at 200,000 miles already!)…and wandered into the BMW side of the house (it’s a joint VW/BMW dealership). I was lost in wonder and awe at the new M5 on the display floor (for a mere $108,000 it’s all yours!) Mileage is listed at a eye-popping 17/20mpg city/hwy…(and the spedo goes up to 200mph…which is really handy here in the US)…and I remember thinking to myself how perfect it would be to have an Assos model sitting on the hood wearing their cycling gear (especially the stiletto heels)…it would fit perfectly with how they portray their clothes. Maybe they could have a $15,000 bike off to the side hovering just above the ground (which is what a $15,000 bike should be able to do).
    GREAT STUFF Fatty!

    On a side note, I’m already getting fired up for Davis! Get your Asso’s signed up for the team and BE THERE!

  57. Comment by Daddy style | 03.6.2013 | 10:02 am

    Good stuff, smiling

  58. Comment by Fat Cathy | 03.6.2013 | 10:56 am

    I just couldn’t get past those CFM shoes the model was wearing. I want a pair. I wonder if I can retro fit some cleats on those babies. Add in the vinyl bondage pants and I can go straight from a group ride to the dance club. Oh wait, they were selling a jersey? Nah, it is ugly.

    Great write-up Fatty.

  59. Comment by Anonymous | 03.6.2013 | 12:07 pm

    Wow. I wonder why the CEO at Assos would approve that ad? Ridiculous idea to market your brand to men by alienating all your potential female customers.

    I’d truly love to live in the day when cycling companies market to women as seriously as they do to men.

  60. Comment by BamaJim | 03.6.2013 | 12:49 pm

    I think the ad folks at Assos must try to write copy for you to poke fun at. You should at least send a thank you note.

  61. Comment by Marsupial Matt (formerly known as MattC) | 03.6.2013 | 1:29 pm

    Actually I think BamaJim is onto something…YOU possibly give them the most bang for their buck every time you make fun of them!

    All I know for sure is that I do NOT have a luxury-body…my ‘peasant body’ would surely revolt if I were ever to don their exhorbarant priced clothe (well, my wallet would revolt anyway).

    But that said, I’d surely be up for some ‘demo’ items to review…I mean, MY blog reaches out to ONES of people!

  62. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.6.2013 | 3:19 pm

    I read your Blog Matt. So after your brother(s), and your wife. That makes 4 of us.

  63. Comment by Marsupial Matt (formerly known as MattC) | 03.6.2013 | 4:58 pm

    awwww david…you’re just trying to butter me up so I’ll do the 24hrs of Old Pueblo w/ you next year (no buttering necessary my friend!)…that said, it’s gonna be dependent on funding from Congress (that would be my wife) and I’m in ULTRA-Sequestration right now…sheesh..between kids (ie: dogs) and cars, if they find out you’ve got a spare buck, they take two (or TEN).

    And I’m convinced they talk to each other in a gloating manner (yes, cars can talk to each other…my Jetta will be bragging to the Stealth about it’s new timing belt/water pump, etc etc, and the Stealth will be all flustered and have low self esteem, thus requiring even GREATER repairs in the near future). And Dogs do the same thing…Sydney was all “ooh..I was totally paralyzed and now I’m not”, so PG goes “oh yea? WELL…I have cancer and needed my leg cut off…beat THAT!” And Sydney (who is not too bright) will say something like “oh YEAH? I’ll have a headache and need my HEAD CUT OFF! Beat THAT!” And PG (who is pretty smart) will call her on it by saying “name that tune”!

  64. Comment by GregC | 03.6.2013 | 5:10 pm

    1) I have to read Matts blog occasionally to see when he is making fun of me.
    2) BamaJim maybe be onto something here- when Fatty reviews their adds- I bet they get a huge bounce effect in viewings- although the converstiaon rate to sales may not be what they are tracking
    3) the stilleto heels look pretty aero to me, they must have the hidden SPD cleat feature.
    4) I dont remember what the ad was selling- but it was entertaining.
    5) did y’all see the article in the latest velo? turns out parafin chain lubrucation only adds 10 seconds every 10 miles. mmmmmmm, 2 hours to lube my chain for 10 seconds?

  65. Comment by Aaron | 03.6.2013 | 5:29 pm

    Hi Fatty,
    I agree that this is a ridiculous ad, but I also felt that your comments about the model’s weight were inappropriate. It can be just as offensive to comment on how thin a person is, as it is comment on them being overweight. Commenting on the model’s suggestive pose etc is one thing, but attacking her physical appearance is not on, especially when a major point of your post is that women deserve greater respect when it comes to media and advertising portrayal.

    I do not normally comment on blog posts, but I respect you a lot and felt you might want to know if a reader had taken offense at a post.

    Best wishes,

  66. Comment by Walter | 03.6.2013 | 5:34 pm

    OMG — a masterpiece!! Comedian mastermind, indeed. ‘Nuff said.

  67. Comment by roan | 03.6.2013 | 7:44 pm

    What ! The Hammer’s arms & legs ? I just knew you had a Hammer Double at Old Pueblo’s night time laps.
    I noticed an interesting left arm scar, there’s gotta be a good story along with it…sorta like the story of the guy with his leg sliced open by a scalpel like broken branch a few years back.

    That “scar” is just some sloppy photoshop work on my part. – FC

  68. Comment by Lin | 03.6.2013 | 9:30 pm

    I see. Assos obviously hasn’t seen “Miss Representation” (the documentary). Unfortunately, they could star in it.

  69. Comment by Ben S | 03.6.2013 | 10:36 pm

    Great post!

  70. Comment by Ellen | 03.6.2013 | 11:01 pm

    Wow, marketers using controled substances in the workplace?

  71. Comment by Bob B | 03.7.2013 | 7:08 am


  72. Comment by beth | 03.7.2013 | 9:04 am

    Wow – Way to go Fatty!!! I laughed ’til I about hurled. I’ve always thought that Assos was a bunch of pretentious and sexist types, but I gotta say that this ad just proves my thinking. Thanks for your photo shop – I liked your version better by far.

    Assos definitely needs to rethink their design and marketing in a huge way.

  73. Comment by mtbchick | 03.7.2013 | 10:27 am

    I REALLY want that jersey!

  74. Comment by L'Hippo | 03.7.2013 | 10:52 am

    Great stuff, more from the collection of “Stuff So Stupid It Could not be made up!”

    So do you think the ad agency team was sitting around with a bota bag of wine, a box of Cheezits, and were looking at YouTube videos of the harlem shake when they suddenly realized they had the ASSOS client pitch in 45 minutes and just slapped some junk together? And then the client bought it? Somewhere Don Draper is spinning in his fictitious grave!

  75. Comment by Seen the elephant | 03.7.2013 | 12:01 pm

    Silly ad copy made sillier by a bad translation into English. This is probably the work of the people who send me bogus emails from acquaintances who are stranded overseas because their backpacks were stolen and they need money to get home.

    If copy writers and translators were classified the way cyclists are, these folks would be category (as opposed to level) 13.

  76. Comment by mtbchick | 03.7.2013 | 8:49 pm

    I need to edit my response…

    I REALLY want that jersey!

    When I opened my copy of Peloton magazine, this ad was one of the first things I saw. And I immediately searched for the jersey so I could buy it for myself.

    Let me say as the founder of mtbchick.com, I have been criticized for using the word “chick” and have had companies decline to work with me, even! As a buyer of climbing/camping/travel/fishing/etc gear for a retailer, I have run into women who find our marketing offensive because they think a bunch of men came up with it– while all along it’s a mix, and women are driving many decisions!

    I like to be cute in the outdoors- I want to look sexy and feel sexy. I do not want to feel rugged and manly. I do not think that we have to follow puritanical norms. I do respect women for all they (we) have accomplished, but at the end of the day, I want to be fresh, sexy, beautiful and if I can find cycling apparel that makes me feel that way, then I am happy (hey- that’s hard to find!). There is no doubt women are hard core, and we deserve to be treated with respect, and I honor all women in their endeavours and accomplishments!

    Assos sold at least one jersey with that ad- to a woman.

  77. Comment by Hautacam | 03.8.2013 | 2:35 am

    +1 for the Violent Femmes reference,

    Looks to me like bondage pants girl (pic #2) is actually quoting from the book of Bikesnob:

    “All you haters kiss my Assos!”

  78. Pingback by Marketing to Women | Moterrific | 03.8.2013 | 5:18 pm

    [...] http://www.fatcyclist.com/2013/03/05/level-13-an-open-letter-to-assos/ [...]

  79. Comment by Jonathan Warner | 03.10.2013 | 10:08 pm

    I enjoyed this. And I loled IRL at #8. Thanks for that!

    (Got here from dcrainmaker’s site)

  80. Comment by Alyssa | 03.11.2013 | 3:06 pm

    Thank you. This needed to be written.
    They can forget ever having any of my money.

  81. Pingback by Marketing, cycling and women | Unofficial Unsanctioned Women's UCI Cycling Blog | 03.11.2013 | 4:03 pm

    [...] Collyn speaks so much truth, but if you want evidence of what she’s talking about, check out Fat Cyclist’s post on the latest Assos ad.  He talks a lot about the text, but seriously, look at this photo!  It’s preposterous, on [...]

  82. Comment by Swanny | 03.11.2013 | 5:44 pm

    Holy cow that was awesome. While reading the Assos stuff my initial reaction was they were doing a parody of Scientology. But they definitely do not have Fattys ability of sly wit!

    I have no problem with the original ad, but Fattys is waaaaaay better!

  83. Comment by mattotoole | 03.11.2013 | 10:01 pm

    David Ogilvy said, “Half of my advertising is wasted, and the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” I wouldn’t assume the Assos folks do either.

  84. Pingback by Today’s post, in which I offer a few helpful corrections for the Newport Beach PD | BikingInLA | 03.12.2013 | 1:36 am

    [...] Cyclist deservedly takes a bikewear manufacturer to task for their needlessly sexist and borderline offensive ad and asinine, virtually incomprehensible [...]

  85. Comment by April | 03.12.2013 | 3:35 am

    This is an excellent response to a terrible ad campaign, but one tiny tiny note: Please don’t associate skinny legs with not being a cyclist. Plenty of ladies (like myself) have skinny legs even after lots of riding–after a 3,800 mile tour a couple of years ago, my legs were very well defined, but not any bigger. That’s genetics for you.

    Several women have made that point. Thanks. I’ve learned my lesson and won’t make the mistake again. – FC

  86. Comment by Jason | 03.12.2013 | 5:39 am

    Given the state of sponsorship in cycling, specifically in women’s cycling, I find their corporate tag line to be a little out of touch. Sponsor yourself? Why not just say, “let them eat cake.” But clearly they pull no punches and are trying to appeal to the elitist nature of their target audience. If I could afford their products I would be the happy owner of some sweet Rapha gear instead.

  87. Comment by Bikedork | 03.12.2013 | 6:34 am

    This is hilarious. Thanks for making my morning!

  88. Pingback by How not to sell cycling apparel to women | Tiny Fix Bike Gang | 03.12.2013 | 8:45 am

    [...] a quick link to a well written article  from Fat Cyclist ripping a brand apart for their godawful marketing to female cyclists.  Take [...]

  89. Comment by Anne | 03.12.2013 | 12:39 pm

    Assos or asshats? I think you summed it up rather well. Your ad represents women much better than theirs, which makes me want to buy anything *but* their products.

  90. Comment by Iain | 03.12.2013 | 4:21 pm

    I can’t believe that a company would seriously try to use that to advertise.

    That is just ridiculous.

    I imagine that if they had done a poll and asked people what they thought of their ads, the answers that they would get would most definitely be negative.

    Why don’t they just think for a bit before they release a terrible ad like this.

  91. Pingback by How not to try to sell cycling clothing to women – and three companies who get it right | Unofficial Unsanctioned Women's UCI Cycling Blog | 03.13.2013 | 6:33 am

    [...] on Sunday I mentioned the Assos ad that was featured in Fatcyclist’s blog – the one where the woman’s on her knees in spray-on, wet-look trousers and stilettos, [...]

  92. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 03.13.2013 | 12:37 pm

    A little bit on the “manga.Yio” thing.
    • Manga is defined as comics produced in Japan, or in a Japanese style originally established in the later 18th century.
    • There is no such word as “yio”.  The closest thing I could find is a 3-letter airport code (YIO) for a small regional airport in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada.

    So the “manga.Yio” state of mind must be what you are in after reading a Japanese graphic novel while on a Canadian North 737 flying into a small single-runway airport located some 400 miles above the Arctic Circle and 1600 miles due north of Ottawa.


  93. Comment by eric p | 03.13.2013 | 2:49 pm

    remember… you can’t spell ASSHOLES without A S S O S

  94. Comment by Erwin | 03.13.2013 | 9:13 pm

    While I agree she doesn’t really look ready to go out and ride, I’d say she looks pretty great. We don’t really know whether or not she is a cyclist. I’d say she looks healthy. A skinny model is normal in fashion. Get over it.

    If you questions Assos’s legitimacy, check out Brendan’s review of a visit there a few years back. http://www.competitivecyclist.com/whats-new/our-visit-to-assos-hq.399.html

    The store, MangaYio is run my a young,ex-professional rider who rode for Saunier Duval and had heart problems. The staff of Assos is full of cyclists. Their founder, not only made the first bibshorts, but also made the first lycra shorts and the first carbon fiber frame.

    In addition, they don’t use any Asian manufacturing. Which is really more offensive, a model who looks a little out of place in bike clothing or bike clothing made by out of place children.

    At least they don’t use Lance/Johan/Levi in any of their marketing!

  95. Comment by GWright | 03.14.2013 | 10:26 am

    Extra special kudos for the Violent Femmes reference. As for the whole rest of it…no comment

  96. Comment by Max | 03.14.2013 | 11:44 am

    Having spent the night talking with a schizophrenic, Im pretty sure that the person who ran this ad and the copy on their website are schizo too!

  97. Comment by Laust | 03.14.2013 | 1:29 pm

    So many double standards and so much hypocrisy and back padding here it hurts…

  98. Comment by Kooz | 03.14.2013 | 2:59 pm

    This is brilliant–I love the detective work you did! Nice job!

  99. Comment by Mo | 03.14.2013 | 3:50 pm

    Hi Fatty,

    Can I call you that? I don’t know you. But I level 13 you. Thanks for calling out these Ass’os and being snort-inducing funny while doing it.

  100. Comment by Ann | 03.14.2013 | 4:21 pm

    I came here ready to say people are too easily offended. I came ready to say that women know they are athletes and don’t need ads to prove it. I came to say, give the company a break. AND then I saw the pants and the heels and I thought, that the …..Anyway. Seriously. There are some hot cyclists. If you want to show a hot cyclist in your add go for it. I am the first to admit that those ads sell but come on, at least put her on a bike. And while you are at it, maybe you could put her in a bra as well. I am sure I am not the only one who noticed that.

  101. Comment by Ed | 03.14.2013 | 5:43 pm

    I’m surprised you can power the bike with your fat pig chubby legs. Doesn’t feel so good does it? Then shut up about people with twigs. Write about what they’re wearing in the ad, not how they look.

  102. Comment by Misty | 03.14.2013 | 9:10 pm

    Are those spike heels clip-ins?

  103. Comment by CycleMoles Robin | 03.15.2013 | 8:05 am

    Here Here! OK, some girls and women do have issues about not being able to gain weight and cannot be anything but a stick with hair. I know a couple.

    But I am darned tired of seeing stick figures portrayed as athletes – in ridiculous get ups. That is, of course, unless you ARE riding your bike to the disco – then the outfit makes perfect sense. Who needs cleats anyway?

  104. Comment by anukexpat | 03.15.2013 | 3:42 pm

    Also why so freakin’ expensive?

  105. Comment by Lisa | 03.16.2013 | 8:04 pm

    I can hardly believe Assos is a real company or that this is a real ad. It is like something that came either from The Onion, or also reminds me of one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits V Necks. You are making this all up aren’t you, FC?

  106. Pingback by - 12 morceaux de robots pour Assos et sa pub sexiste | 03.17.2013 | 4:53 pm

    [...] [...]

  107. Comment by Andrew | 03.20.2013 | 5:33 pm

    Surprised you didn’t mention the sexist comment “tribute to our female customers and to please the eyes of our ASSOS community”. In other words, “you’ll look good in it and every bloke will be staring at you as well. You’re nothing more than eye candy in this male dominated sport”

    The model is the same on used in their other knicks ads where she is topless in bib knicks.

    Ads like this have no place in todays society. Well written article FC.

    That phrase was one of the first things I noticed about the ad, but there wasn’t much I could do with it. It was self-parodying; anything I would say would just take away from its eye-roll effect. – FC

  108. Comment by Van Vliet Bikes | 03.25.2013 | 7:59 am

    Now that’s good advertising :)

  109. Comment by John in Oregon | 03.29.2013 | 6:32 pm

    Assos did it again in the new issue of Peloton.

    Fatty, given these feelings about Assos, would you change the prize in the weight-loss bet (even though it looks like neither of you is buying shorts for the other)?

  110. Pingback by News Bites — Bike Around Bend | 04.2.2013 | 4:53 pm

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  111. Comment by Ian | 04.3.2013 | 12:57 pm

    I think it’s interesting that all the women and Fatty think that they are advertising to women. Less then 5% of Peloton readers(and all other high end bike rags) are women.
    Also if you don’t already own Assos gear, then you are most likely NOT who they are targeting with their advertising.
    I work in the media/marketing world and I would guess that less then 5% of Assos sales are to women. So, this is the same as Porche or Ferrari advertising with a half naked woman on the hood of the car. They are NOT trying to sell cars to women. Get over yourselves.

  112. Comment by EtapeCassette | 04.29.2013 | 2:35 am

    Yeah, but man is she fit! Makes me wanna buy some bib shorts and dress up a la Borat and his mankini!


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