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The Gore C3 Women Thermo Bib Tights+ really do perform well in cold, dry conditions and are exceptionally comfortable. The two-zip system at the rear is also great for speedy, hassle-free pee-stops.
The first noticeable thing about the Thermo tights is how easily they pull on. There is no zipper at the ankle, it's not needed; the fabric is very giving and slides over the heel, and the cuffs sit securely in place even without a stirrup.
While the tights are by no means baggy or oversized, if you like very snug-fitting, compression-type tights these will not be for you. It was only around the pelvic area that I really noticed the absence of elastane – there is a tendency for the tights to bag a little here. That said, this didn't irritate me; the tights feel really comfortable both on and off the bike. The fabric is exceptionally soft against the skin and moves freely over the legs as you ride or move in and out of the saddle. The only drawback of this soft fabric is that it is prone to snagging against rough surfaces.
I am religious about protecting my knees when I am riding; they are in the direct line of airflow and are being forced to work overtime while riding. No surprises then that I love the double-layer panel that extends from the middle of the shin to the lower quad; it's a winning ingredient. The tights are not waterproof and don't incorporate Windstopper fabric in the legs, so the double layer goes a long way to protect knees from the cold air as well as splashes and road spray that can quickly penetrate a single layer.
The rear panel bucks the soft fleecy trend: it is a thinner, Windstopper, water-resistant fabric. It's well positioned and deals with spray effectively. This fabric stretches down over the rear half of the pad.
The bib is well proportioned – not too much frontal coverage; baselayers and jackets are left to do the work here. There is a mesh panel on the rear which really helps to prevent overheating.
The bib is secured across the front with a small hook fastener, holding things together securely, although I frequently forgot to fasten it and honestly didn't notice any difference while riding. The whole bib was a little generous for my liking but not everyone will have this issue.
Breathability is good, mainly thanks to the lack of Windstopper and water-resistance on the legs. You certainly build up a layer of warmth but it escapes much more freely than it would otherwise. Gore rates the tights for temperatures between 5 and 15 degrees; I found that they kept me warm in temperatures down to 2 degrees, provided I was making a half decent effort, while above 12 degrees I felt they were too much if I was putting in any serious effort. They should pretty much serve for all of your dry winter riding.
The two zip-system is the best setup that I have ever used for facilitating a swift, hassle-free pee. While halter straps are quite common, and Sarah got on just fine with dhb's halter system last winter, I personally can't tolerate a strap around my neck so I was keen to see if Gore has found a feasible alternative. Quite simply, it has, and I am not surprised to see that it is patented. The zips are easy and intuitive to reach, they easily pull open and let a sufficient chunk of the tights drop away. There is no pulling on any part of the tights when you squat or sit down and it's not a battle to 'redress' yourself: zip the sides up (one at a time worked best) and readjust your outer layers. After a couple of outings I was able to do all this with low-bulk gloves on, although thick winter gloves proved more difficult and I invariably just took them off. I never had any problems with the zips creeping open while riding.
The only downside of this brilliant setup is the gap between the two zips, which widens a small amount as you hunker down on the bike. If you are precious about keeping your lower back protected you need to ensure you have a baselayer with a long enough tail to cover up bare skin here. The Castelli Prosecco did the job perfectly but there are loads on the market that offer decent coverage. Those who aren't so precious may actually appreciate this 'vent' when working up a sweat in milder temperatures.
The chamois is Gore's Advanced Road Women's Seat. There is plenty of soft padding that keeps you comfortable for long rides – after four hours I was still happy with it. It's tapered down towards the edges so that it doesn't feel or appear too bulky. I didn't experience any discomfort whatsoever with the pad throughout testing. The insert is made with Gore's Cup Technology too – it certainly keeps the lower torso and hip area toasty warm without causing you to sweat excessively.
Comparing the price against other tights with 'pee-stop access systems' isn't too difficult as there aren't many out there. Sarah liked the Funkier Thermesse S-980W C12 Ladies Winter Single Strap Tights, which are now £79.99. She also really rated the previously mentioned dhb Aeron FLT Women's Roubaix Halterneck Tights, which cost £85 at rrp (currently £49.99). Compared with these, the Thermo Bib Tights+ are a little expensive, but Gore's great reputation for quality, high-performing kit might convince you they are worth the investment.
With their double layer protection at the knee, exceptional comfort and brilliant bio-break zip system, the Gore C3 Thermos are an ideal piece of kit for anyone who is committed to getting outdoors throughout the winter and maximise their riding time in dry, cold conditions.
Serious comfort and protection and an excellent zip system for speedy pee-stops
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore C3 Women Thermo Bib Tights+
Size tested: 38
Tell us what the product is for
Gore says, "These bibtights are the perfect choice for long rides on cold days. The use of insulation ensures you can stay warm and comfortable, without too much bulk. GORE®'s women's specific features make these a great choice as your go-to cold weather bib."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*Patented two-zip system for easy opening during bio-breaks
*Bib short innovation that allows women fast and easy pee-breaks
*Thermo lining: Increases warmth; brushed and soft back for next-to-skin comfort
*Reflective logo and piping
*GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Cup Technology: highly breathable, preformed windproof front for optimum comfort
*X-shaped, women's specific bibs with hook closure that runs over the breastbone without any friction
*Mesh insert in back for optimum ventilation
*Additional layer of thermo-stretch-functional fabric in knee-area
Fantastic in cold, dry conditions. Spray doesn't immediately penetrate the fabric but persistent rain does.
They snag quite easily, so keep away from rough surfaces.
A bit too generous for me around the hip but that's simply down to individual body shape.
Slightly bigger than I would have expected but not excessively so.
Not lightweight but it's not a noticeable weightiness, unless you get drenched.
For the quality of Gore this is not a bad price at all. They will serve you well if you enjoy winter riding.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Came out of the 30 degree wash just fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Two zippers at the rear that make pee-stops a doddle. Knee protection.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly looser fit than I like, particularly around the hips.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
More expensive than some but certainly not extravagant. Sportful has similar Profit Thermo tights at £120 and £130.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Top class protection and comfort in cold, dry conditions with a brilliant pee-stop setup. The size/fit wasn't perfect for me, and they're susceptible to snagging, but otherwise these are excellent.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off-roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…