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The Gore Ability Thermo Bib Tights+ Womens are plenty warm enough and provide windproofing where it is needed. Unfortunately, the execution leaves a lot to be desired, the result being a restrictive sensation that leaves you feeling like you're working against the tights rather than having them move seamlessly with you.
The tights are certainly warm, thanks to the fleece lining throughout, and also feature windproofing panels for extra protection against the winter elements.
They have what Gore calls its 'form fit' – its closest fit that it says is designed to be worn tight to the body, to enhance moisture management, thermal efficiency and aerodynamics.
Gore has updated the sizing and fit of the tights for improved functionality and comfort; while I don't have any personal experience with the previous fit, this is the area that lets these bib tights down for me – mostly because of which materials have been used where.
Gore says it has placed extra wind and wet weather protection in the areas that bear the brunt of the conditions. These are positioned at the front across the whole of the thigh down to just below the knee, and at the rear across the bum and halfway down the thigh. The idea is that it preserves the flexibility of movement throughout the pedal stroke.
While the protective panels do indeed defend against the elements, they lack the stretchiness of the material used down at the calves. The placement isn't quite right, with the result being that the tights manage the unfortunate double act of being both tight and baggy in different places, as the windproof panels flap away from the skin in some places while refusing to stretch in others.
A sub-par fit is never ideal, but how much it affects your riding can vary hugely. Baggy leg ends, for example, are a bit irritating, but it's not going to stop you from wearing something if you have accidentally missed the return window.
On the other hand, the way the windproof panels on these tights squeeze across my whole thigh, yet sit loosely across the front of my hips, is a combination that really put me off riding in these at all. I couldn't ride comfortably around the whole pedal stroke, and the loose fit made me feel slightly self-conscious.
Elsewhere, fairly wide reflective strips are included on the front and rear of the calves for a helpful touch of visibility, and a patented one-zip system is included for quick and easy unzipping when it's time for a mid-ride pee stop, making these a practical purchase.
It's a design that's likely to work with all body shapes, and when paired with a baselayer the zip isn't noticeable when riding.
The upper is a full mesh construction that's very stretchy. It helps with breathability and also does fit very well. The two straps are 5cm wide and so distribute pressure nice and evenly, plus they can be hooked together, which keeps the mesh back and side panels hugging your body.
Just one thing to note: where the two different mesh panels come together at the top of the shoulder, I found that when I wasn't wearing a baselayer this join was a little rough.
The pad supplied by Elastic Interface is its women's Advanced Brand Core seat insert. The first layer is made of breathable 80kg/m density open cell foam, while the second layer is of higher density 120 kg/m perforated open cell foam for greater support. It's a good one for mid-length rides, but I prefer a pad with higher density for typically long winter miles.
The Bacteriostatic Eco surface fabric is made from 100 per cent recycled polyamide – it's wonderfully soft and great to hear that it's eco-friendly too.
And although, for example, Velocio's Thermal Bib Tights are much more expensive at £216, they have a much higher density pad, providing much more support than Gore's offering, making them a better investment for long rides during the winter months, when working on endurance fitness. The thin fabric is also plenty warm enough and allows you to move freely through all sorts of efforts and riding intensities.
You can also get very good tights for less: the soft, stretchy and supple Iris Women's Signature Winter Bib Tights Light are warm enough in temperatures down to about 3°C and also feature a great chamois and easy-to-use buckle system – all for around £130.
Overall, Gore's Ability Thermo Bib Tights+ for women incorporate a lot of high-quality materials and design features, including the patented easy-pee zip system and windproofing panels, but unfortunately the latter results in tights that are very restrictive to ride in.
Fleece-lined bibs with effective zip system for mid-ride stops, but very restrictive windproof panels
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Ability Thermo Bib Tights+ Womens
Size tested: XS
Tell us what the product is for
Gore says: "Designed for committed riders determined to train even in the worst of winter weather. With wind and light rain protection on the thighs, a windproof liner to shield the crotch area and reflective detailing these thermal bib tights allow you to keep turning the pedals however bad the conditions get.
When cycling in wind and wet weather the thighs and crotch area bear the brunt of the conditions, by strategically placing extra protection in the areas that need it most we are able to preserve the flexibility and freedom of movement of the legs throughout the pedal stroke."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Seat insert with GORE® WINDSTOPPER®
Designed for cold weather
Engineered for Cycling
Partial GORE® WINDSTOPPER® product: totally windproof, extremely breathable and water resistant
ADVANCED Brand Core seat insert
Brushed fleece lining for warmth and next-to-skin comfort
Highly breathable material wicks moisture away from the skin
Full mesh bib construction for optimum fit and breathability
Patented one-zip system for easy opening during bio-breaks
Inseam length 70 cm / 27.5 inches
The fabrics are high quality; although with the fit issues I'm experiencing I have concerns about putting too much strain on the seams.
The windproof panels lack the stretchiness of the material used down at the calves.
The upper is a great snugly fit, the chamois is supportive for mid-length rides, and the fleece-backed fabric feels comfy throughout; unfortunately, riding is a little uncomfortable as the fabric is too tight in some places through the pedal stroke.
Though they're a lot cheaper than some (if more expensive than the very good Iris Signatures), they're not great value for the performance.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
All good when machine washed at 30 degrees.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The windproof panel placement does provide effective protection against the elements; the mesh upper helps nicely with breathability and fits very well; the zip easy-pee system works, plus it's great how quick it is to use; however, the fit and placement of the windproofing elements is very restrictive when riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Close-fitting breathable upper.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The placement of the windproof panels combined with the cut.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Putting the fit/performance issues aside, the price isn't bad for a female-specific option with wind resistance and a mid-ride pee stop feature – Rapha's Pro Team Winter Bib Tights are £210. The Iris Women's Signature Winter Bib Tights Light (£135) have an easy-to-use buckle system and a great chamois for less than Gore's offering, though.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, the Gore bib tights use high-quality materials, including a comfy fleece-backed fabric and effective windproofing panels. The easy-pee zip system is also a great inclusion for a winter garment as rides are often longer and so being able to quickly go for a pee break without removing all your top layers (of which there are many) is incredibly useful. All of this is great for the price point, but unfortunately the placement of the windproof panels has been poorly executed and results in tights that are very restrictive to ride in.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike 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, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track