Cycle clothing is advancing at a rapid rate and one of the leading companies is Gore Apparel. Its Oxygen Classics Gore Windstopper Bibshorts are a good example of its innovative approach to clothing design, combining a windproof bib short with an integrated baselayer, providing a protective barrier against bad weather.
Getting dressed for typical British weather can be a tricky old business before a bike ride, more so when the weather forecast just can't make up its mind. Gore's Windstopper material is ideally suited to breezy cool days with a risk of rain. We've seen it used plenty in jerseys and jackets to great effect, and it's a smart choice for these Oxygen Classics.
Size-wise the shorts are good, comparing nicely with other similarly sized bib shorts. Gore has really worked the panel design, both the shape and placement of the panels, to provide the best possible fit, and it's mostly good. The only criticism I have is the lack of stretch in the fabric compared to regular Lycra means the material isn't pulled taut across the legs and doesn't conform to your body quite as well.
It's really only an issue when you're first pulling the shorts on – it's not restrictive but a little baggy if anything – but once you're in the saddle and pedalling along the road, they're comfortable from the first to the last mile.
At which point you realise the excellent padded insert has done its job so well you haven't noticed it, such is the impressive comfort it provides. It's the company's own Oxygen Light Men insert developed with Elastic Interface. It's made from a fast-drying, open-cell foam with a recessed channel and smooth transition at the edges. The shape is pre-formed and is claimed to be good for four-hour rides, something I can verify from testing it on rides in excess of that figure.
The other big story about the Gore Oxygen Classic shorts is in the top half. Instead of a pair of bib straps over the shoulders, Gore has designed a sleeveless mesh baselayer with a full-length front zipper and integrated it right into the bib shorts.
It might look and sound a bit odd but it really works, providing supreme comfort with no pressure over the shoulders or irritation, and it's as soft next to the skin as any regular baselayer. It's a lot more comfortable than wearing a separate baselayer and bib shorts and reminds me of the comfort afforded by one-piece outfits like Castelli's Thermosuit.
There are a few bib shorts on the market designed to excel in bad weather, such as Sportful's Fiandre NoRain bib shorts, to pick one example, but for truly horrid weather the thickness and protection of the Windstopper material make these Gore Oxygen Classics hard to beat when you want the best.
I've been using them for the past few months, and they've put in a stellar performance any time the weather has been suboptimal. They cope with showers really well, and in heavy downpours they keep you drier much longer than regular bib shorts do, though Windstopper isn't waterproof – it's only water resistant – so you will get wet eventually.
It's on days with frequently changing weather patterns that they perform best. You don't feel the chill from the breeze at all, rain showers are kept at bay, and they provide more insulation on cold mornings. They are adequately breathable to cope with double digit figures, so cooler summer days as well as spring and autumn.
The Gore Oxygen Classics Windstopper Bibshorts are ideal for rides when it's cold, blustery and raining – hopefully not getting too much use in summer! – and comfortable for long rides. They're expensive but a worthy investment if you don't want to let bad weather stop you pedalling.
Built-in baselayer and Windstopper fabric fend off bad weather, not unheard of in a British summer...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Classics Gore Windstopper Bibshorts
Size tested: Medium
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: "Made of highly functional GORE® WINDSTOPPER® material, these short bibtights feature an innovative seat insert for comfort on long distance, challenging rides. The front-zip mesh top allows for easy on and off. The flat hem provides optimum fit."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Gore lists these features:
Soft and versatile GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Product: windproof, water repellent and highly breathable
Inseam length 34 cm / 13 inches
Reflective logo on side
Flat hem provides optimum fit and comfort
Highly functional material
OXYGEN LIGHT MEN seat insert with highly breathable, preformed windproof front for pressure relief
Perform brilliantly in bad and mixed weather.
The fit is mostly good but the lack of stretch in the Windstopper fabric does hamper the quality of the fit a little bit.
They're expensive, but if you want extra protection for facing bad and mixed weather there are few better choices.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems putting them in with a regular wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Cope with changeable weather conditions superbly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Keep you dry and warmer more than most bib shorts when the weather isn't very nice.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fit is slightly hampered by the lack of stretch in the Windstopper fabric.
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
Okay they're really expensive, and the fit isn't as good as regular bib shorts, but for protection in the rain, cold and wind there are few better choices.
About the tester
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, mountain biking
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.