Gore cycling clothing has been renowned for high-performance, weather beating-gear for decades with loads of other bike brands using its various Gore-Tex, Windstopper and Shakedry fabrics too. The company has had its own cycling range since 1996, concentrating on making the most of its own fabrics with fastidious cut and detailing. Despite being right at the cutting edge of performance, it’s often cheaper than boutique brands using exactly the same materials – often without the same level of practical understanding.
The current road range is a good balance of consolidation and focuses on some classic design, plus the evolution of some more recent introductions – like Shakedry jacket fit. Add input from legends such as Fabian Cancellara and decent colour ranges from stealth to lifestyle, to straight-up neon for safety, the 2021 Gore cycling clothing range is looking really strong.
We’ve picked out our favourites but make sure you have a good browse around www.gorewear.com to see the full selection.
For an explanation of how Gore breaks down its range, including what makes C5 different to C3, and how Shakedry differs from Infinium, you can skip to the Gore cycling clothing range explained below.
Gore cycling clothing – top picks
There are very few game-changing innovations in bike clothing, but Gore really has nailed it with Shakedry. So much so, other brands are using the technology in their own waterproof cycling jackets, such as the 7Mesh Oro and the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex Jacket.
Because the fabric has no face cloth over the membrane, the rain just rolls off the face. The surface droplets mean it genuinely shakes dry with a quick flick and the minimal pack weight and size means it can be stuffed into a jersey pocket no problem. Despite the fact it’s ultra-thin, it’s actually warmer than thicker multi-ply jackets. The naked membrane means it evaporates moisture from inside faster so breathability is good enough to use it as a wind jacket even when working hard.
While the first versions were a bit short in the body, there are several excellent Shakedry jackets in the range now including pure Shakedry options with hi-viz detailing and a Polartec Alpha-insulated version. This stretch version is our top pick though as the waterproof stretch panels under the armpits, over the shoulder blades, inside wrists and lower flanks give it a super-snug fit without cutting off circulation when you go full aero. It gets reflective details and a zippered pocket on the extended back too. The unprotected membrane makes it very vulnerable to rips and tears however, so don’t wear it down the woods on your cyclo-cross or mountain bike. If you’re serious about riding whatever the weather, the amount you’ll wear it and the way it performs will soon justify the initial cost and it’s cheaper than comparable Shakedry kit from other brands.
The first time we wore this jacket we nearly died of heatstroke, but if you want a ‘keep on’ coat to combat the most miserable and changeable winter conditions then it’s potentially a great – if occasionally anti-social – investment. Paying Gore-Tex waterproof shell money for a Windstopper jacket might seem weird but there’s a lot going on here.
The DWR coating means it shrugs off showers and the very warm, soft inner-faced Windstopper means any moisture from storms or sweat stays warm anyway. The front and shoulders are also lined with Polartec’s new Alpha insulation for extra cosiness. As usual for Gore, the fit detailing is superb too, particularly the stretchy, pre-formed collar and cuff sections which seal wrist and neck brilliantly and even have reflective dots on for safety. This does, however, make it suffocatingly warm if you’re working hard above five degrees in the dry.
Thankfully armpit and wrist zippers let you spill some heat, but you’ll definitely be steaming before you get to double-figure temperatures. That’s more of an issue than normal as the Alpha panels aren’t as breathable as the Windstopper, so they can feel clammy and heavy if you descend, back off the pace or stop at a cafe. The way the Alpha stores sweat means it starts to stink very quickly and bulk means it’s not a take-off-and-tuck-in-a-pocket item either. If you know the temperatures are staying low and you want a whole new way to get people off your wheel though, then definitely consider it.
Gore’s Gore-Tex Paclite jacket is a hi-viz rain mac that boasts 100 per cent waterproofing and wind protection to keep the elements at bay all year round. With its C3 active fit, the cut is looser than some of the brand’s more premium garments, which means it can accommodate multiple layers beneath. This makes the Paclite jacket a versatile tool to whip out at any time of year. Of course, if your sole priority is to save watts, then you’ll probably want to forego the loose fit.
However, if you’re of the more shapely persuasion and want something that performs extremely well without cutting off your circulation, this is an ideal option for you. The fit is true to size, with sensible arm widths and a perfect length for full splash coverage at the rear.
You can lock in the heat with cuffs that are part-elasticated, part-Velcro for precision wrist-sealing, which works really well if you don’t mind the added bulk. Add to this the tall collar that seals snugly in place and zip garage to prevent chafing while tackling the elements, and you’ve got a well-rounded package to keep the cold and wet out.
Weighing just 238g, the Paclite jacket is extremely lightweight and packs down enough to stuff into a jersey pocket, making it an excellent weapon in your ride arsenal.
The Pro started off as the Alp-X MTB jersey but its super-snug, stretch-panel cut is superbly suited for pure road use or the gravel/adventure zone in between. Basically a lighter-weight version of the legendary Phantom jacket, the thin Windstopper fabric is comfy with just a base layer from 5-degrees up if you’re working consistently. The tight woven, DWR-coated cloth shrugs off showers and drizzle impressively well and it’s externally, ultrasonically seam-sealed to stop leaks and lumpy joins.
The fabric naturally breathes very well and dries fast while the thinner stretch back panel regulates core heat well. You can add extra ventilation by opening the sleeve zips to make an armpit vent, or you can remove the sleeves completely. That reveals short, jersey material sleeves which creates a set up very similar to a jersey and gilet combo but with a very snug aero cut so you’re not wasting watts. This takes wearability well into double figures centigrade, making it year-round useful so the £200 price tag is a lot more palatable.
Three easy-access back pockets are backed up by a small zippered pocket on the back and another on the left chest. The main zip is slightly off centred with a puller ‘garage’ to stop chafing if you’re out all day and the arm zips are colour coded so you get the right ones when you’re re-sleeving in a hurry. If the R7 cut is a bit too snug, you can get similar zip-off versatility in a more forgiving fit with the R3 Gore Windstopper zip-off. It’s £30 less too, even though you get a hood.
Designed for the hottest summer weather, Gore’s vented bib shorts also come in handy when you’re hibernating on Zwift. If you didn’t know you were getting a premium product from the price, the fact it comes in a presentation box with black tissue paper and a nod to design collaborator Fabian ‘Spartacus’ Cancellara is another hint. Confirmation comes when you pull the cleverly cut multi-panel design on and your personal effects are cradled in a preformed Windstopper Cup. This doesn’t just suggest that these shorts want to be more than good friends, it gives excellent support in and out of the saddle as well as reducing chill on long descents. Broad, silicon-baked leg grippers, racerback bibs and a ‘floating’ pad that’s only attached in three places all keep them snug fitting and fidget free too.
As you might guess from the name though, these shorts are primarily about venting. The seat pad is vented and there’s a highly breathable ‘V neck’ section above the crotch cup and lightweight leg fabric. This is theoretically made even breezier by laser-cut holes on the outer thigh and laser-cut dots on the bibs and they certainly rode cool when we tested them in Spain last summer. They also stay cooler when cycling indoors on the turbo trainer in winter. How cool they look depends on how pasty your legs look through those holes though and whether you remembered to shave high enough to stop a hairy haze poking through.
If these aren’t what you’re after then there are another seven Gore bib short options from the £219.99 C7 Race to the £59.99 C3 Classic, as well as the C7 Pro 2in1 bib and baggy combo shorts if you’re shy about skin shorts.
By combining fabrics Gore has made a pair of tights that feel too light and thin to fend off the elements remarkably well. In fact, they’re so light it took us a while to actually try the C7 Partials when they arrived last winter and when we did, it was only for a short loop with a guaranteed warm up at the end. Turns out the thin Windstopper fabric that runs from mid-shin, up the front of the legs and around the seat and sides is very effective at fighting off wetness and windchill. There’s enough stretch in the material and clever enough multi-panel shaping that they don’t tug over the knees or shuffle down if you’re in and out of the saddle either.
The high-quality pad gets an extra Windstopper ‘cup’ upfront for adding support and stopping your brass monkey from freezing, too. The lightweight bibs have a mesh centre panel to shift sweat when you’re working hard and from the shins up these are an excellent set of tights for fast and far riders. If it’s really wet and particularly if you’re riding without guards, the fleecy lower legs are noticeably colder though and that affects foot warmth as well. On the bright side, they’re thin enough that they work really well with a set of long overshoes like Spatz where the extra breathability is a bonus for long-ride comfort.
If you’re a female rider there’s nothing more awkward than trying to take a nature break when your bib tight straps are buried under a shell of layers. It’s clearly an issue for the women at Gore too as they’ve designed one of the best de-bibbing solutions we’ve used. Gore’s one-zip system at the back of the bib means you can drop the tights enough without having to freeze your top half. The front straps are also shaped to include a really welcomed bit of bra insulation and added warm material across kidneys and back.
As it’s a C3 product you get the mid-level ‘Active’ seat insert with Gore Cup for high-mileage comfort and a Windstopper front panel keeping you warm, even on the iciest days. Add a stretchy multi-panel leg fit with flat seams, reflective detailing and grippers on the ankles and these are an awesome pair of winter tights offering real comfort advantages without being crazy expensive.
You don’t have to spend a ton of cash to get into Gore and these 3/4 tights have all the brand’s signature quality to make a really comfortable and useful spring/autumn or early morning/late evening summer item. The actual ‘working length’ of many 3/4ers ends up changing once you start pedalling with tightness under the knee or bunching around the back being an issue with some we’ve used. Thankfully multi-panel spiral cut around the legs and generous grippers on the hem keep these knicks locked down without feeling tight over the knee. In fact, they actually work better in that respect than the Windstopper 3/4ers Gore has retired from the slimmed-down range for this year. Having your caps covered with nice fleece fabric makes a really significant difference in warmth compared to shorts and saves you looking at frozen purple knees when that black cloud dumps its load.
Gore’s ‘Active Comfort’ seat insert is still really good quality (it’s never bothered us on long days anyway), and a mesh back panel helps wicking to your outer layers.
We get sent absolutely tons of gloves to test and spend a lot of time riding round in odd pairs to figure out which work best for which conditions. The pick of the gloves we choose to use when conditions are absolutely evil tends to be very specific though. That means it’s a big credit to Gore that its lighter-weight Gore-Tex gloves have always been a go-to pair for the wettest, windiest rides.
As they’re a full Gore-Tex fabric they actually keep water out for a decent amount of time, even in the heaviest rain, and the adjustable cuff reduces draughts and sleeve leak. They breathe really well and dry relatively fast from inside out too, and they stay far more comfortable for longer than any other ‘waterproof’ glove we’ve used.
Equally important is that they’re thin enough to retain reasonable trail feedback and control rather than feeling like you’re riding in boxing gloves. The reinforced palm, forefinger and thumb panels get silicon details for extra grip and they’re smartphone compatible for taking sodden selfies. They come in up to 3XL sizing so you won’t be squeezed for room if you want to add a second pair of liner gloves for ultimate warmth.
The Windstopper Thermo gloves (£59.99) are great if you don’t need full waterproofing too.
Spending £40 on a hat seems extreme, especially for one that looks too kinky to wear unless it’s grim weather, but then this is a very special cap. No, really it is. We’ve shoved tons of cycling caps under our road helmets over the last 40 years (they looked great under those leather bunch-of-banana things we pretended would help and got our mum to buy us). They add a useful peak for keeping sun, wind and rain out of your eyes, they keep your head warmer and they look proper pro. The trouble is the cheaper, cotton ‘trade caps’ will get soggy with sweat and stay that way. Anything Windstopper/fleecey that adds noticeable protection is generally too fat to squeeze under your lid.
That’s where the super-thin Shakedry cap comes in, keeping water off your head and out of your eyes, yet staying remarkably sweat free if the weather improves. Plus it’s so thin you don’t have to pull out your helmet pads or perch your lid on top of your head like the Pope.
Who is Gore Wear?
Gore Wear is fundamentally a science and fabric performance company with a massive multi-industry portfolio which its bike gear is only a tiny, tiny part of. That’s why its text and presentation tends to have a similarly sciencey feel, but it’s easy to decipher without a doctorate.
Gore Wear cycling clothing range explained
Gore gives a number and letter code to every garment to show primary function and performance level.
Whether you’re looking at the road-riding range or the Gore MTB range, if it’s primarily a cycling product, it gets a ‘C’ suffix. Each piece of clobber then gets a number after the letter. 7 is for ‘Experts’ so you’ll generally find fancier, faster-breathing fabrics and a tighter fit. 5 kit is for ‘Advanced’ riders so it still has top quality fabrics and attention to detail but tends to have a slightly looser fit. Level 3 is listed as ‘Active’, baggier in cut and less geeky in terms of features, so you can wear the jackets without looking like a dork while walking the dog.
Talking Gore Wear
Gore-Tex obviously has a very strong household brand name and it protects that with a very specific language. Here are translations of the keywords you need to know when navigating the range.
Gore-Tex Active: Extremely fast breathing and light but with a <40 denier fabric that’s very durable. The inner backer textile is laminated into the Gore-Tex membrane for a quieter, softer feel too.
Gore-Tex Paclite: Unsurprisingly Paclite is designed to pack down small and light. It’s durably waterproof and very breathable but has a carbon inner face rather than a fabric backer so it feels more plasticky against the skin.
Gore-Tex Shakedry: Shakedry is an incredible fabric that basically leaves the Gore-Tex membrane fully exposed so water just rolls off, it breathes amazingly well and it’s as thin and light as bin bag material so it packs to nothing. It is very fragile in terms of tearing or wearing out under bags though which is why we don’t recommend Shakedry for MTB. It’s ace for the road though.
Windstopper: Rather than using a Gore-Tex membrane sandwich, Windstopper uses a ‘Durable Water Resistant’ surface treatment. That means it’s not waterproof but it slows down moisture enough to be comfortable however wet it gets. It breathes super fast and there’s more insulation than a fully waterproof Gore-Tex shell jacket so it’s more versatile, particularly for riders who work hard and get hot. There are different weights of Windstopper from thin, max performance to thicker and cosier so make sure you pick the right one.
Infinium: Confusingly this isn’t actually a fabric but basically a change in Gore philosophy. Previously the company would never mix fabrics in a garment, they had to be either entirely one sort of Gore-Tex fabric or Windstopper so buyers knew exactly what they were getting. The idea behind Infinium garments is that they pick and mix fabrics from the whole cloth collection to create ‘best of both’ results. However, while there are some good examples on the MTB side, the Infinium road gloves we’ve used are cold, slippery and a bit disappointing to be honest. To add confusion, some of the older mixed fabric pieces like the C7 Pro Bibtights are still called ‘Partial Gore Windstopper’ which is actually a lot more self-explanatory than ‘Infinium’.
Support and ethics
All full Gore-Tex fabrics are covered by Gore’s ‘Guaranteed to keep you dry’ program under which it claims:
“If you are not completely satisfied with the waterproofness, windproofness or breathability of your product, then we will repair it, replace it, or refund your purchase price.”
There are repair centres in most countries, too.
Gore guarantees all its fabrics meet the BLUESIGN sustainability standards and its manufacturing complies with Fair Labor Association guidelines. It is aiming to remove ‘PFCs of Environmental Concern’ from its range by 2023.