Gore Bike Wear reportedly spent two years developing these new Xenon Race shorts specifically for the demands of longer rides that involve in the region of five or more hours in the saddle. It really shows: these are incredibly comfortable shorts that are now my go-to shorts for any ride that might involve many hours on the bike.
Inside the shorts is the Xenon Man Seat Insert. It's a splendid insert with a two-layer structure and central channel that provides amazing comfort. I've tested some of the best bib shorts currently available and this one ranks up there with the best from the likes of Assos, Castelli and Sportful. It really is that comfortable, though I wouldn't say it's significantly more comfortable than comparatively priced bib shorts.
The insert uses high density open-cell foam padding in the main pressure points, and thinner padding where it isn't really needed. This is a similar approach that many top-end bib short manufacturers also use. The insert offers good breathability and sweat absorption so it remains dry even during the hottest and sweatiest rides.
The shorts are constructed from a polyester material with the seams carefully placed to avoid pulling or chafing. The fit is snug; they aren't called race shorts for nothing. There's enough stretch in the fabric that they size medium shorts never felt constricting, however. They just feel like a second skin, comfortably taut around the legs, hips and buttocks. The fabric also does an excellent job of keeping you dry, and staying dry, when you're getting a bit of a sweat on.
The leg openings have a wide band hem. This design spreads the pressure better than a narrow elasticated band right at the edge and keeps the shorts in situ comfortably. The bib straps are constructed from a mesh fabric and the straps are generously wide and there well sized to not feel tight over the tops of the shoulders.
I've been using the shorts for the past eight months, so it's a pretty long-term test, this. I've used them for everything from one-hour blasts and crit races to longer rides, and even used them in a 200km Audax earlier in the year. The comfort they provide really is top-level stuff, I've not once had an cause for concern, no chafing, sores or a sore bum, they've been simply superb.
There are a lot of very good shorts in this price range and while Gore might not be the first name that trips of the tongue if you're in the market for bib shorts, the work that has gone into these definitely makes them worthy of consideration.
They look good too; very understated with the simply Gore logo and reflective details. They're brand neutral too so you can wear them with any brand jersey, if you're the sort to worry about mixing your cycling tops and shorts from different brands.
It's also worth shopping around as several places are selling them quite a bit cheaper than the RRP, at which point they are a bit of a steal.
They're available in a range of sizes and colours, though some user reviews suggest the colour scheme with the white band across the back produces an affirmative answer to the question "Does my bum look big in this?"
They come in a nice presentation box with a wash bag for sticking them in the washing machine. I've since stopped using the wash bag and the shorts go through a typical 30 or 40 degree wash just fine.
Impressive comfort from Gore's latest top-end bib shorts
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Xenon Race Bib shorts
Size tested: medium, black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Gore Bike Wear Xenon Race Bibtights Short+ has been 2 years in the making for 5+ hours in the saddle: The ultimate seat insert combined with the best bibshorts from Gore Bike Wear. Three dimensional cut and the finest fabrics mean these are the best bibshorts Gore Bike Wear has ever made for race cyclists. Absolutely lightweight road cycling bibs with padding developed for long and demanding rides. The slight compressive fabric as well as the innovative bib construction and the flat bottom hem guarantee optimum fit and avoid any irritation.
The Xenon Men's Seat Insert is specifically designed for long and demanding rides, 5 hours+. Revolutionary fabric with two-layer structure for maximum sweat absorption, great breathability and natural bacteriostatic properties. Central channel to support male anatomy relieving numbness and increasing blood flow. 'Pelvic tract' specifically designed to support the pelvic rotation movement while cycling. Ultra high density insert concentrated on the main pressure points for maximum protection and support. High density perforated open-cell foam for highest breathability and quick drying. Anti-Vibrations System (AVS) provides a constant level of support and comfort for longer rides. Super Air base layer for maximum ventilation, freedom of movement and elasticity.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Ride duration: 5 hours
Highly functional material mix
Full mesh bib construction for optimum ventilation
Inseam length 25cm
Transfer print inside the hem for better grip
Shifted seams for less chaffing
Large reflective graphic on side
Reflective logo on front and back
Separate wash bag
They're mightily expensive, though a pair of top-end Assos shorts will cost even more. However, the smart tip is to shop around and you'll find them discounted, at which price they make a much better buy
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Impressive comfort. If you want the most comfortable bib shorts, these won't dissapoint.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit and comfort provided by the insert.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They're expensive at the full list price and there is a lot of good competition at that level, but the comfort they offer does offset the price. Depends how much you value comfort.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A top notch bib short providing impressive comfort for the longest rides.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.