Gore's C7 Long Distance Bib Shorts+ are remarkably thin, soft and light, yet still feature some clever venting and windproofing for hot weather comfort. They're impressive – as they should be for the price – though the low front and short-ish straps might not please everyone.
- Pros: Great pad, good cooling, very light
- Cons: Expensive, legs can creep up, straps verge on tight, excessive packaging
Gore really wants you to know these were 'engineered with Fabian Cancellara', as it's written all over the beautifully crafted box. Two photo-heavy sections accordion from the open lid, detailing the Long Distance shorts' place in the range (greater padding than the C7 Races, none of the thigh perforations of the C7 Vents). From everywhere, Fabian grimaces from his handlebar at either the climb or the weird typos, non-sequiturs and mistranslations in the text. It's odd.
Sorry to start with the box, but... Yes, it may help you feel better about dropping £180 on a pair of shorts, but as far as I'm concerned cycling should be the last industry wasting material and inflating transport costs in 2019. To be fair, Gore is not unique in this.
If you want to feel better about the C7s, just wear them. Aimed at summer temperatures, they have a barely-there feel that it would take a considerable heatwave to overwhelm. In the absence of heatwaves during the Welsh springtime, I also found them perfectly comfortable in low double-figures Centigrade, and usable even into single figures with knee warmers.
The cup at the front may look holed like a teabag – and it is – but thankfully there's a windproof membrane behind all but the upper corners. It's stitched above and below, allowing the two layers to float, and air to slip through to your groin.
Does it work? I think so... certainly I never felt any heat build up even on multi-hour rides that left my face, my loved ones assured me, pink like a piglet in a sauna, but then there were never any uncomfortable chills on colder rides either. All I can definitively say is they remained comfortable across a decent range of temperatures, and that may be all you want to hear.
The extremely thin material further helps resist heat build-up, as does the very low front, which can leave gaps to bare skin with shorter jerseys. On the other hand it does make 35mph pro-level 'comfort breaks' easier (I've yet to meet the lollipop lady who appreciates how tricky that is), while racers also get a radio pocket in the rear of the bib. At just 175g, they're certainly up to competition.
The shoulder straps are wide and soft, although – like so many – probably a stronger elastic than is strictly necessary. They pulled the shorts up a tad snugger than I'd personally like, though I am long in the torso. Despite that, the straps never dug in or irritated my shoulders, no matter how long I rode.
The pad, meanwhile, proved excellent in conjunction with my favourite saddle, to the point where I rarely gave it a second thought. Ideal.
One thing I did notice was that the legs would slowly rise up as the miles passed. It never led to discomfort – the fabric is almost too thin and stretchy to bunch up – but the silicone grippers, which only loop around two-thirds of the opening and are very thin, are not quite up to the job.
It's possible that sizing up would solve any niggles with both the straps and the legs wanting to shrink upwards (Gore itself says its sizes 'may run a little smaller than you expect'), but it never actually occurred to me. These really were tiny niggles, and you may not encounter them at all, especially if you're like Fabian with a short body and terrifically grippy legs.
At £180 the C7s are up against the likes of Attaquer's very comfy All Day Bib Shorts (£170), Le Col's £180 HCs and Alé's PRR 2.0 Fusion HDs (£170). They're all at the top of the range for price and performance – and at this level, which is 'best' is going to be as much a personal choice and bodyshape as anything. Gore's C7 Long Distances are definitely contenders – and they'd be better still if they just arrived in a bag.
Fantastically thin, comfortable and cool shorts, and fantastically expensive with it
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore C7 Long Distance Bib Shorts+
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product is for
Gore says: "Developed with Fabian Cancellara for endurance road cycling with maximum support and ultimate comfort. Built for the long haul, technologies like low force elastic and flatlock seams ensure this short stays in place no matter how long you ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Gore lists a lot of tech points:
-EXPERT LONG DISTANCE seat insert with GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Cup
-Developed with Fabian Cancellara
-Dense knit construction creates ultra soft next to skin feel to reduce chafing
-Central torso architecture keeps chamois in place
-Wide and flat bibs with highly breathable material keeps short in place
-Ultra fine gauge, super stretch, durable performance with abrasion resistance
-Three point chamois anchoring system means you will never have to readjust your short while riding
-Silicone leg grippers create snug fit at thigh without restricting movement
-Reflective details on all sides for 360 degree visibility
-Radio pocket on rear of bib
-Opaque finish fabric is ultra wicking and fast drying
-GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Cup Technology:highly breathable, preformed windproof front for optimum comfort
-Flatlock seams all around to create maximum comfort
Great fabric, thoughtful panelling and neatly overlocked/flatlocked seams.
Light, cool and very comfortable.
I'd worry about the thin fabric in a crash (not tested), but otherwise they feel sturdy.
Slim and secure.
Pretty much spot on for a tight, racy fit, though Gore itself says it may be wise to size up. On reflection maybe I should have.
175g feels very good for the level of comfort.
Extremely good without quite reaching to the exceptional.
They're no bargain at £180.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Cold wash without issue and dry quickly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – they stay comfy for miles, with only very minor niggles.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Vented yet windproof cup.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They border on being undersized... and Gore knows it.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There's little that's more expensive that isn't a full-on aero suit. They're costly.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If I won the lottery.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're very good – a solid eight – but not really exceptional, especially when you factor in the cost.
About the tester
I usually ride: GT GTR Series 3 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking