Verdict: 
Excellent protection against the elements, keeping your legs warm and dry when it's nasty out
Weight: 
431g

It's 30 years since Gore started making cycling gear, and to celebrate it has brought out a range of anniversary products including these 30th Element Windstopper Soft Shell bib tights. This high quality legwear does an excellent job of keeping the wind and rain on the outside, perfect for damp autumnal days, but when it got really cold I wanted a bit more warmth.

To my slight disappointment, Gore decided to mark its anniversary not by re-releasing this sort of goodness, but instead with a series of special editions across the cycling range. Dave was quite taken with the softshell jacket. Oddly, some seem to be basically identical to existing models but slightly more expensive, so perhaps we're paying for the company party.

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These bib tights are based on the existing Element Windstopper Softshell bib tights except for a 1985-2015 badge and different (gold!) reflectives, and they're a tenner more. Happily, they're an excellent pair of tights, making full use of Gore's Windstopper technology to provide impressive protection for your legs. They've been my go-to choice for the blustery autumnal days we've had of late, keeping my legs really comfortable and mostly dry.

Gore 30th Element Windstopper Soft Shell Bibtights Upper Front

Using a good softshell material for bib tights can be a pretty effective way of keeping the rain out for longer than is generally the case with just a DWR-treated Lycra or Roubaix fabric. I found that after riding an hour in light-to-moderate rain my legs were pretty much bone dry, which is impressive. A sterner test was a two-hour club chaingang in heavy rain, with loads of spray from standing water. After this, my legs were certainly damp but it was still obvious that the vast majority of the water had been kept out, with none of that sodden chill you'd get with conventional tights.

The outer surface has a hydrophobic coating, meaning that water beads off very effectively, but it's the combination of this and the Windstopper membrane that makes these so effective. I stayed drier for much longer than I did when using the likes of Castelli Nanoflex, Giordana G-Shield or Stolen Goat Orkaan tights.

The flipside of softshell tights is that the material is generally rather less stretchy, and so it proves here. The fit is good, though, with anatomically-shaped bent knees, and as a consequence I didn't find them restrictive. They're not super-tight, but they move well and don't feel like they offer much resistance to your pedalling.

Gore 30th Element Windstopper Soft Shell Bibtights Bike

Comfort levels are really excellent, thanks to a soft fleecy inner surface and carefully positioned seams. Gore's own Element pad also did its job well. Gore says it's suitable for short to medium length rides (up to two hours) but I found that on rides of three to four hours I didn't really give it a thought, which is about the best thing you can say about a pad.

On a £140 pair of tights it might be seen as a little surprising that the pad is designed for relatively short rides, but in fairness Gore does say that these are aimed at "recreational cyclists", and they are perhaps biased towards their comfort as opposed to racing performance. If it gets you out on your bike on a foul winter's day then that sounds good to me.

Gore 30th Element Windstopper Soft Shell Bibtights Upper Back

I found that these bib tights worked best in a temperature range between about 5 to 12 degrees, which was a bit warmer than I'd been expecting as they feel fairly substantial. Much colder than that and my knees would start to feel the chill, at least until I warmed up. For deep-winter riding I would favour something like Castelli's Sorpasso Wind tights instead, which definitely offer more warmth thanks to the extra layer on the front. Alternatively, Gore's Oxygen tights are marketed for use when it's very cold, and are probably a better choice when it gets down to freezing, although I've not tried them.

The rear of the tights is made from a lighter material than the front, as you don't need the same wind protection behind your legs. This also helps to avoid uncomfortable bunching behind the knees, which can be a problem if softshell material is used there.

Gore 30th Element Windstopper Soft Shell Bibtights Back

One of the first things you'll notice is that these tights use adjustable straps instead of conventional fabric bib straps. It's very similar to what you'd find on a pair of salopettes. My initial fears that this would be less comfortable were unfounded, and I never found myself bothered by them. Adjustable straps allow for a wider range of body shapes too, which is a benefit. If you wear a rucksack on the bike then this could be more of an issue, because of the position of the plastic strap adjusters.

Gore 30th Element Windstopper Soft Shell Bibtights Strap

There are unusually long cam-lock zips on each ankle, making it extremely easy to get them on and off. And there's enough give in the material at this point that you can zip them up outside your overshoes, which helps stave off wet feet. There's a belly zip too, to facilitate toilet stops, with a soft fabric flap behind it to prevent irritation – a nice touch.

Gore 30th Element Windstopper Soft Shell Bibtights Front Zip

On the legs and the bum there are well-positioned reflective details, which are pimptastic gold on the 30th anniversary special edition, instead of silver on the standard ones.

> Check out our guide to the best winter cycling bib tights and trousers here

I was really impressed with these bib tights – they're expensive, but they do an excellent job of maintaining comfort on really nasty days when you might otherwise decide to stay in bed. When the mercury gets down to zero or below, you might want something warmer, but where I live that's typically only a few weeks of the year, and for the rest of the winter months these are a formidable defence against the elements.

Verdict

Excellent protection against the elements, keeping your legs warm and dry when it's nasty out

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Gore 30th Element Windstopper Soft Shell Bibtights

Size tested: Large, 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?

Gore says: "These warm WINDSTOPPER® soft shell bibtights for the recreational cyclist keep wind, moisture and cold away. The adjustable bibs keep it in place. Zipper on lateral hem allows for easy changing."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

ELEMENT MEN seat insert

Reflective logo on side

Reflective logo on front

Reflective print on back

Zipper with semi-lock slider and reflective piping on lateral hem

Zip-underflap

Front zip

Flat-lock seams

Elastic braces

Adjustable bibs

Pre-shaped knees

materials

 

MAIN FABRIC: 100% POLYESTER, WINDSTOPPER®MEMBRANE, SHELL INSIDE: 100% POLYESTER, INSERT: 92% POLYESTER, 8% ELASTANE, WINDSTOPPER®MEMBRANE, SHELL INSIDE: 92% POLYESTER, 8% ELASTANE, LINING: 85% POLYAMIDE, 15% ELASTANE

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Beautifully made – these feel like real quality.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Impressive protection from wind and moderate rain. They are not deep-winter tights, though – I found that I wanted something warmer when it got down to zero.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

I couldn't see any areas of concern – they feel pretty bombproof.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
6/10

Not the lightest, but this is unlikely to be a major priority for winter bibs.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

They're very comfortable with a nice cosy fleecy inner surface and a pad that I found pretty comfortable.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

They're not cheap but they represent reasonable value as they are extremely well made and should last a good few years.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

I was impressed – they're up with the best tights I've used in terms of protection from wind and rain. I found they were perfect for autumnal riding; once we get some really cold mornings I'll be wanting something a bit warmer, though.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Excellent rain and wind protection, high levels of comfort and discreet styling.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Not a great deal, they just lack warmth for deep-winter riding, but you could always stick some knee warmers on underneath or some thermals.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

On all but the coldest of days, these offer really superb protection from the elements. They're beautifully made and I'd expect them to last for ages.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 190cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Commuter - something with disc brakes, drop bars and a rack  My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

1 comments

Avatar
lbalc [15 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I have used the non-padded ones, and non-30th anniversary now 3 times, from 1C to 9C. 9C was a bit too warm. I noticed in the review the mention of using a non-softshell material behind the legs; actually it is Windstopper material used all over the legs and waist, but behind the legs and at the ankles to mid-way up the calves is non-fleeced Windstopper. The way to tell is simply blow hard on this part of the fabric and see if any breath gets through, regular fleecy/stretchy material (like used on the belly area and lower part of the back, air will get straight through. So if anything these should be more insulating and slightly therefore less ventilating than the Oxygen version (as they claim to have fleecy/stretchy material behind the legs), but like the reviewer I haven’t tried the Oxygen version. So found at 1C they were plenty warm, but my body temp. obviously runs a little hotter than the reviewer. I had to go for a large as I bought medium and could hardly pull them up over my thighs. I am 5ft 10" and 31.5" which should be the size chart mean the mediums would be a little big on me, which isn't the case. Considering the whole material is Windstopper there is a good amount of stretch in the material to mean there seems to be no restriction in movement. Very impressive. I used them in 4C, only for about 15 minutes of hail and then rain and the water beaded up perfectly. I went for the ones with the fluorescent ankle section; bit of silly place to put it because of all the road spray and oil flecks that hit right there, but after a wash it all came out. This same ankle section at the front is quite baggy, either to put the tights over overshoes (like the reviewer said) or maybe to pull the tights off whilst keeping your shoes on- why you would want to do that I am not sure.