Only Assos, the company whose $520 bibs include questionably named features such as the Kuku Penthouse and the Golden Gate, could get away with producing the sV.Emergency. I swear I’ve seen photos of Lady Gaga wearing some close semblance of this minimalist vest to a club.
But the Swiss company doesn’t shy away from the outlandish if they feel it can better your riding experience. And this miniscule vest, which weighs a scant 2.6 ounces and rolls up smaller than a Clif Bar, is definitely for those days when your ride could be better. It’s built as a last line of protection for, as the name suggests, emergencies. Just pop it in a rear jersey pocket and if you happen to get caught out in the dark and cold, you’re covered.
The sV.emergency (their oddball nomenclature, not ours) is constructed of papery wind-stop fabric on front, a stretchy, no-see-um mesh on back, and two-inch elastic bands at every seam that are reflective for maximum visibility. The half-waist design provides warmth to the core of your body but saves weight and bulk by excising the fabric from the torso—Assos figures it’s superfluous anyway as you’ll never take wind there in the crouched, riding position.
I’ll be the first to admit that $140 for the riding equivalent of an all-weather brassiere seems excessive. And I was dubious of just how much the crop top would protect. But I’ve used it a handful of times now in on dusky, cold winter nights, and I’ve actually been surprised just how well it works. The moment I start getting frigid, I throw it on and it cuts the chill. Having said that, if I were going to be stuck out much longer than an hour, I’d probably want something heavier.
All in all, it’s a highly refined tool that serves a very specific purpose. Whether people are willing to pay $140 for it is another question, especially given that it’s not much lighter or smaller than most less expensive featherweight vests. However, the trim fit and reflective panels make this higher performance than most floppy gilets. And if you're especially concerned about the price, remember that the sV.emergency could easily double as a Halloween costume.