With Windstopper panels to block the cold air, Gore's Contest Bib tights will keep you warm in temperatures down to freezing point and beyond.
The Contests are the cheapest bib tights in the Gore Bike Wear range to feature Windstopper fabric (the version without a seatpad is £99.99) – although the non-bibbed Vistas are £80 with a seat pad and £70 without.
You know all about Windstopper, right? The Gore fabric does exactly what its name promises, the softshell version used for the front panels of these tights coming with a comfortable fleecy backing. It rustles a bit when you move but it’s stretchy enough for you to pedal freely and it feels pretty much the same next to your skin as the Roubaix fabric that makes up the rear sections of these tights.
The Windstopper is reasonably breathable in use. Okay, you occasionally notice that it doesn’t let as much sweaty vapour out as standard polyester, but wearing these in the cold conditions they’re designed for, we certainly didn’t suffer too much humidity. And the huge benefit is that by keeping the cold air off, you stay much warmer. It was -2°C on our last test ride in these, yet they kept us warm enough. We were working pretty hard in the saddle, admittedly, but we were out there for over two hours without getting uncomfortably cold or even thinking too much about the temperature. We felt fine.
And on damp days Windstopper keeps rain and road spray out well too. It soaks into the face of the fabric but it doesn’t actually come through. In wet conditions water got in via the rear panels but up front, where most of the rain lands, we stayed dry. That makes a big difference in UK winter conditions.
As for the other features… flat-stitching throughout adds to the comfort although the Contest’s seat pad is only okay rather than spectacular. It’s stretchy and breathable but it’s all foam – no gel – and although there are channels to help with shape and ventilation, we just found it a bit spongy. That was fine on short rides but we wanted better cushioning on anything over about an hour. If you have shorts you’re already happy with, we’d be inclined to go for the version without a seatpad and wear those underneath.
Rather than the usual Lycra or mesh shoulder straps, the Contests are held in place by elastic braces, the only tights in Gore’s range that have these. Why have they bothered? Well, the braces are adjustable. You just move the little Velcro tabs up or down to get them as you want them.
We worried that the Velcro would snag our favourite base layers – but they didn’t, so no complaints on that front. The braces are a little narrower than most other shoulder straps though, so there’s a touch more pressure than usual, and we’ve never really yearned for any adjustment anyway. If you have, fair enough: these might be an advantage for you. For us… meh!
Long ankle zips make the Contests easy to get on and off and the zip pullers lock in place so they don’t creep open as you move. The ankle grippers are a bit old school – strands of rubber rather than a silicone bands – and we found the fit a little baggy down there… Not that it makes much difference because if it’s cold enough to wear these, chances are that you’ll be wearing overshoes too, and they’ll cinch in any looseness. A little front zip makes mid-ride comfort breaks that bit easier and a small amount of reflective print/trim helps you get seen at night.
Don’t let our criticisms give you the idea that these aren’t good tights, though – they are. We’d certainly prefer a better seat pad but the main point is that the Contests will give you good protection from the winter chills, and the price isn't bad for windproof tights.
The seatpad isn't the best but the Windstopper fabric will keep you warm right through the winter
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Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Contest Bibtights+
Size tested: Large
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 Bike Wear say, "Wind protection for the legs: a cycling bib that keeps wind and weather at bay. Stays in place even during rapid sprints. Reliable protection for recreational cyclists."
Fair enough - we can't argue with that.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, we'd go for the pad-less option and shorts
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
Age: 39 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.