At first look, Gore's Alp-X Pro Lady Shorts seem a strange and fantastical idea- a pair of shorts that are half baggy shorts and half sleek short tights. The Alp-X Pro were designed with mountain biking in mind, specifically technically challenging riding, where the excess fabric of baggy shorts could interfere with ease of body movement, but still giving a baggy short 'look' and style. The main body of the short appears to be a fairly standard loosish fit, yet there's an integrated inner lycra short that becomes external at the section between the legs. The overall effect is therefore one of loose fit style shorts, but with the comfort and performance of lycra shorts.
I was keen to test them out of their natural off-road enviornment because it seems to me that many of the elements of mountain biking shorts work well for recreational road riding, touring, and even commuting. The Alp-X Pros are well featured and put together. The main fabric is a rugged but soft stretch fabric while the lycra short section is tough and supportive with an integral synthetic chamois. The waistband is half broad elastic and half flat (at the front). There's a zipped pocket on one thigh big enough for a mobile phone or wallet, and a Velcro fastening pouch pocket, and small elasticated pouch for energy gels and the like on the other leg. A reflective trim runs round the lumbar area and at the bottom of the legs.
Considering that these shorts are designed for mountain bikers, I was impressed with how comfortable they were for recreational riding and touring, situations in which it's not always desirable to be wearing traditional lycra shorts for reasons of sartorial elegance but where the level of comfort offered by said shorts is still important. They were tricky to wriggle into, with some effort required in positioning the lycra tight element correctly to ensure a comfortable fit at the top of the shorts, but once positioned, they did stay put and offered really high levels of ride comfort. The chamois was excellent- despite officially being an off-road specific design. It was well shaped and gave a good level of cushioning without being obtrusive. The lack of extra fabric between the legs meant that there was no chafing risk or annoyance factor on the bike, but they still looked almost like a pair of low key baggies rather than technical cycling shorts.
On close inspection, it's possible to see the strange effect of the tight lycra on the inner thigh, but the overall look is much more forgiving than standard lycra. When riding, there's no feeling of binding on the thigh, or catching of fabric, and the lycra inners do give a decent feeling of muscle support. I'd not recommend the Alp-X Pro for sportier road riding, mainly due to the pad design which is aimed at a more upright riding position, and also the waistband at the back which isn't as high as some road orientated shorts, but for more upright riding and when a balance of comfort and looks is important, these are an interesting proposition.
They are only machine washable at 30C but they do dry incredibly quickly. Again, this makes them a viable option for touring.
Sizing is fairly true to size, with a size large/EU40 roughly equivalent to a UK 12-14.
These are designed primarily as a technical performance garment so the price is high if you're not making the absolute most of what they have to offer.
An interesting hybrid of lycra short performance and baggy short looks primarily for mountain biking but work well for recreational riding and touring, too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Alp-X Pro Lady Shorts
Size tested: EU 40
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?
Hybrid mix of shorts and tights designed for mountain bikers requiring high performance with more low key looks.
Also good for recreational riding and touring.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Outer short - 90% nylon/10% elastane
Inner short - 44% nylon/37% polyester/19% elastane
Off-road specific synthetic chamois
Side zip pocket
Side velcro cargo pocket
Side stretch gel pocket
Partially elasticated waist
Inner tights fixed to outer shorts
Gripper elastic on bottom of inner shorts
Really well designed and put together.
Performed very well for recreational riding and touring. Good levels of comfort.
The hybrid design does place a lot of stress on the construction of the shorts, especially in putting on and taking off.
Good levels of comfort once you've wriggled into them properly and positioned everything as it should be. Off-road pad makes them better for more upright riding styles.
Only better than average value if you are making the most of what they offer. Probably an expensive option for anyone who isn't a mountain biker as well, or a committed tourist looking for a non-lycra looking short.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Looks, innovation, comfort
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Price, awkwardness of putting on.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly. Especially if in the sales.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably, especially one who was a mountain biker as well as road rider.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
An innovative pair of shorts. Comfortable to wear and ride in, especially for touring, but probably best suited to the mountain bikers they are aimed at for real appreciation of their performance.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.