Gore make some great kit, particularly jackets. They also, I assume, make a shed load of money licensing their tech to others. You don’t see their shorts and tights out in the wild as often as others which is a bit of a shame as they make quite brilliant kit.
The ones I’ve been testing are the 3rd iteration of Gore’s ‘power’ bibtights. Their nomenclature isn’t all that transparent so consider these pretty much occupying Gore’s mid range. Below them the Element, above them the Oxygen. At the very top, the Xenon. The + denotes the existence of a pad so if you want a pad make sure you’re getting the + version. And within each range there are often thermo variants and those with added windstopper panels etc.
But these are pretty straightforward, your standard thermo roubaix lined winter bibtights. Well, mostly. As I’ll discuss a little later, there’s the addition of a double panel of lycra in certain key sections which is designed for that little bit more warmth.I’ve taken, as is my usual approach, photos of the key features but not of the overall tight. I’ve added stock photos for that as they are a better representation.
Gore say that these are designed for medium level rides. They don’t really give a guide temperature for them. They’re not heavy weight, what they are is kitten soft. And they are one of the easiest pair of bibtights to put on I’ve ever tried. That does come with a very slight temperature penalty as I’ll come to later.
There are four colour variations currently available at Wiggle. An all black pair (but still with a thin yellow stripe), black/red, black/white and the black yellow on test here. The contrast trim is arguably useful in creating that bit more visibility as you pedal but the its mostly forward visibility and doesn’t extend all the way around (even if the above photo suggests that). It’s a useful addition.
They show up well in headlights though. There’s reflective trim on the legs, side and at the back of the bibs as well. It’s not as extensive as on the Lusso range, but it does the job.
The double fabric layer appears just below the knees and around the back/seat area. When Gore say double fabric they mean double the thickness rather than two layers. It’s actually very effective and is a much more mobile fabric than you find on a windstopper bibtight. I’ve always struggled a little with that type of tight, bunching and wrinkling round the knees for example, but these work well. That said, I do wonder about the efficacy of the placing of the fabric. If the intended effect is to keep off road spray, then great. If it’s all about warming then, arguably, placing a double layer alternatively or also at the thigh would be an improvement. Having a double layer in the kidney area does keep your back/trunk warm, so that’s a neat addition.
It’s a good approach, a different approach and it does work well, giving these a warmth that exceeds a standard thermo roubaix but can’t quite touch something like the Parentini Shark.2 for absolute warmth. But, oh they are kitten soft.
The rear section combines a central mesh with two very lightweight straps. Again, it’s a different approach. A lot of brands, such as Assos, claim that the pinching you feel when standing up is entirely natural. You won’t feel the Gore when you’re off the bike. That doesn’t mean that they wander around or have any less security when on the bike, it’s just a different approach. I’d say that these are the least obvious feeling straps I’ve ever worn, they utterly disappear.
And then there’s the pad and it’s a good one. I don’t know when Gore moved to using Cytech to produce their pads. I was of the recollection, which may be wrong, that they did their own. It’s a collaboration between the two here. The Power seat insert is a dual density pad and rated for rides of up to 3 hours. I’d say you can comfortably exceed that, it’s plush and comfy though arguably not the last word in tech.
In terms of sizing, these are just as described. Gore suggest a large for my 35″ waist and that’s what I got. Fit is close but relaxed. You’d not describe them as compressive. If I had to whinge ever so slightly then they are a little longer than I’d like necessitating a slight bit of folding of the bottoms, perhaps 1/2 to 1 inch or so. There are no zips or straps to get in the way of this process. So, if you’re short Welsh stock like me (5ft 10) then you may have to do that. Any shorter, you might like to size down. Any taller and these really do cater for you.That’s probably a fair trade, too often taller riders complain about shorter than ideal legs.
In use these are very nice indeed. They’re obviously comfortable with no harshness or irritation. The pad is sufficiently plush to disappear. They’re not for the coldest sub zero days but the beauty of the fabric is that you could comfortably wear these on a cold day which turns much milder with no discomfort. In terms of absolute temperature I’d say they’re good for just above freezing up to well into the mid teens. I’d be happy to start out sub zero in them provided that it wasn’t for too long.
But it’s the comfort that’s the real USP of this particular piece. That super soft roubaix backed lycra with its flat locked and thoughtfully placed seams really does contribute to one of the comfiest bibs I’ve tried. At RRP there are probably other alternatives which offer the same level of performance but almost certainly not that kitten soft feel. At the reduced price they represent good value and excellent performance.