When most people think of Gore, they think of Gore-Tex. But, did you know that they also happen to make some of the best cycling kits you can buy? This year, Gore Wear launched all-new C5 Thermo Bib Tights, so I gave them a good test for road and gravel riding this winter.
Gore Wear C5 Thermo Bib Tights+ Features:
- Advanced Brand Core liner with GORE Windstopper cup
- Thermo-stretch fabric with DWR treatment
- Draped design with reduced seams
- Increased stretch for added comfort
- Mesh straps and back for optimum ventilation
- Spray protection along groin and inner thigh
- MSRP: $170
Gore delivers warmth with a few quirks
Baggy baseball pants were made famous by Manny Ramirez and Gore Wear just might be turning that into a cycling thing with the C5 Thermo Bib Tights+. Of course, I’m exaggerating, but they are a touch oversized compared to what I’m used to. As it turns out, they are a “new draped design” so the little extra should be expected. Cool. I get it. But, something that complicates matters this year is that Gore Wear also decided to revise their sizing. So, at 5’11” and 170 lbs, I went with the size medium and I think I could have actually gone down to the small for a snug fit. But maybe the medium “drapes” properly? Intentional or not, it’s something to be aware of when buying these bib tights.
In the end a little bit extra girth didn’t bother me too much — except for the straps. As it is, the straps don’t seem to pull the bibs into place as snugly as they should. I do love the comfort of the mesh straps, but found that I absolutely had to wear them with a base layer (typical for cold rides anyway) to take up a little more space. But, I may even go one step further and fold/sew the straps to take in a couple of inches for a tighter fit.
Most bib tights still have zippered leg cuffs, but the Gore C5 Thermo Bib Tights+ cast them off in favor of a straight cuff. The natural stretch makes it fairly easy to put on and pull your socks up, but not as easy as a zippered cuff. That being said, I much prefer the zipperless design and will also add that it works better with shoe covers since you don’t have double zippers to deal with (a terrible experience).
Some bib tights have insulated uppers which can add unnecessary bulk and warmth. I much prefer the full-mesh design here since it allows me to regulate my layers without having to factor in a partial layer from the bib shorts. The panels are cut and the legs shaped ergonomically for on-bike performance and Gore did add some reflective elements to the cuffs for added visibility. With that construction, nature breaks are easy as the frontside easily stretches as needed.
I have tested the C5’s on road and gravel rides this winter and have found them to be perfect for temperatures in the 40’s. I can dip down to the upper 30’s, but beyond that you’ll want something warmer. The cozy fleece-backed Thermo Stretch panels can only go so far. I will say that the Windstopper cup does prevent chill in critical man areas, but the remaining panels do allow chilly air to penetrate at speed. A few minutes in the flats or climbing will bring the warmth back, so it’s not bone-chilling, just a slight bit of cold air on your thighs. Breathability does remain excellent though. I never felt swampy — even after hard efforts. Should you find yourself in warmer temperatures, that breathability will be appreciated. And, if you do encounter light rain, the DWR treatment is sufficient for the job, but would get overwhelmed in a steady rain.
Flat stitching is used throughout the bib tights for added comfort. This is uncommon at this price point and makes a big difference. Of course, one of the other main components to any pair of bibs is the chamois. While I did wish for a little tighter fit overall, the chamois is fantastic. I’ve found it to work well with both the Ergon SR Comp and Fizik Terra Argo X5 saddles.
Fit: At 5’11” and 170 lbs., I’m testing the medium C5 Thermo Bib Tights+ and there’s a chance I could have gone with the small. But, the medium is likely the right size with Gore’s intended “draped” fit. Hard to say definitively.
- Really comfortable to wear with good breathability
- Flat stitching throughout
- Great for my winter riding comfort zone (in the 40’s)
- Chamois is great for intended purpose (you’re not riding 5 hours in winter)
- Excellent overall construction quality
- Love the zipperless cuffs to eliminate bulk and add comfort
- Windstopper front blocks wind to critical areas
- Mesh uppers don’t add unnecessary warmth
- Feel they could have been more snug
- Strap length could have been shortened
- Updated sizing will cause purchase friction
The Bottom Line: Gore Wear C5 Thermo Bib Tights+
Sizing questions aside, these are a great pair of thermal bib tights for core winter riding temperatures. My ideal threshold is 40-degrees and sunny and these are spot-on for that. I appreciated the solid chamois and zipper-free cuffs that make these easy to live with. The straps and uppers overall are mesh and don’t add an additional layer, so I can choose my own layers as needed. Again, if sizing is right, these are great.
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