PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Summer Skins: GORE BIKE WEAR

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Summer Skins: GORE BIKE WEAR
Most bike tech geeks think cables when GORE is mentioned. Honestly it was Ride-On cables that lead me to their booth at last year's Interbike.

Of course away from bikes, everyone knows Gore for their weather barrier tech, used by damn near everyone in clothing, so it should be no surprise that the bike kit they make is quality stuff. But I'm so dang two wheel focused that I hardly notice clothing unless it's from Capo, Santini, Assos etc...

The new Xenon Kit from Gore Bike Wear made me think they had some good stuff at the show. Getting a chance to use it confirmed the thought...

Click the thumbnail at top for the BIG pic.

I live in Phoenix Arizona and at time of writing, it's July. We're actually under a heat warning here and, for Arizona, that's something... While nobody should ride in 117 degrees (funny, but July and August are the times people ride indoor trainers here...) the mornings are workable but get brutal quickly.

With that in mind, the first thing I noted was the Xenon Jersey.

At a distance, it looks quite a bit like other jerseys...

But get it in your hands and you'll immediately notice what seems to be a focus on ventilation. The color and sleeve material are a well pitted microfiber.

In fact on the front and sleeves you'll note that there are several material blends in this jersey performing a bit different function.

Above you see support fabric of the body, darker tighter weave for the backs of the arms as well as the "stage 1" ventilation that is at the color and under the arms.

But there's a HIGHLY ventilated strip of sheer mesh that runs down the center of the back and along the side panels that is as close to being naked as a jersey can make you feel...

It's obviously well ventilated here, but don't discount the already sheer ventilation of the base materials...

The pockets at the back are some of the largest I've seen, and they're well supported while also being highly ventilating (and there's the zipper pocket addition). The outside pockets also get a little tilt for ease of use, which doesn't really matter on some jerseys, but does with pockets like these.

The cut of the Xenon is a snug performance oriented fit (though the sizes for the jersey are roughly 1 larger than Euro sizes, the fit is performance form) and the back is of course cut a bit longer than the front as well as a feature that only puts the stronger elastic and more importantly puts the silicone grip stuff at the back of the jersey, allowing for more free movement at your lower stomach and upper thighs. Damn nice detail really.

Next up are the Xenon Bibs

And another quick note on cooling (ok I'm obsessed, but given my situation...) different fabrics again through the bibs but the back mesh mates well with the jersey and the breathing is great.

The fabric choices are again functional. The seat area is meant to be abrasion resistant and is soft but a tight weave that is really durable. The second fabric is breathable but high compression for performance.

You can see the differences above (the material with the lines is the compression fabric) and the direction of the lines also lets you see that the compression is directional, as it should be.

The stitching on everything is also exceptionally good. On the bibs it's all flat seams to eliminate chafing.

The Chamois is a very good quality multi-layer elastic foam that is at once well padded but very free moving.

The top fabric on both the pad and the toweling at the front of the pad are extremely soft.

The leg grippers are nice and wide and grip really well without digging in... They also have the bit-o-silicone that is the norm for most shorts (I am probably the only person geek enough to be pissed that I don't understand how they get silicone to sit so cleanly in lettering when I can't caulk a bathtub...)

Fit for the shorts is very similar to Euro sizing.

Another insanely well ventilated piece are Gore's gloves...

They look simple enough on the outside... Finger pulls for getting the gloves off, fairly secure but thin materials, terry thumb for snot stroking. And reasonable raised padding that is not what you’d consider minimalist, but isn't at all bulky in use because the pads are well placed and spaced.

In fact, the ventilation is pretty stealthy on these gloves. With the black fabric you can hardly tell there is any consideration for it until you touch them. Putting them on and using them lets you know that these are great for summer but will be a horrible winter glove for cold areas because they breath like crazy from all sides...

Last on the block here is the lightest wind jacket I have ever handled. This jacket from the XENON line is made with GORE's WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell material.

Now before you wonder how the hell I used a black wind proof jacket in July in Phoenix, I'll explain that the jacket in these pics is for photo (note the tags...). I've had one in use since late last year...

The thing is a dream to wear when wind and a bit of wet (it's not a water proof cover) combine to create the need.

On a scale it's 185 grams... That's 100+ grams lighter than a standard long sleeve jersey. Hell it's just 40 grams heavier than a short sleeve jersey! And even if it were not light, the function and feel is really great.

It's form fit, which is plan to see from the back...

This is also a performance-oriented piece of gear that has some give and fit's a lot more like a jersey than any shell I have ever had. The large tail overhang is needed, and you'll note again, the nice touch of grippy Silicone is only round the back instead of all the way around.

And the capper here is the breathability of the unit.

There are the standard stopper panels but there is a mix of fabric in this unit that's easy to see from the inside. The arms and chest function as blockers and the sides, a portion of the back and the underarms have a far more breathable base material...

Sure there are the standard things like a big rear pocket and high collar and zip cover top...

And the zipper is backed...

Most anyone's jacket will have some of this stuff.

It's putting this jacket on and having it feel like it's not there that really does the deal. The form fit keeps it from grabbing much wind (while blocking it), the fabric breathes really well and there are no useless features to run up the bill. The one thing I would like is a bit wider zipper backer to prevent snags but it doesn't require much care to operate once you note it.

Sizing for the Jacket is pretty close to Euro sizing.

Done Then...
The only thing this stuff lacks is a silly high price tag and a more "race heritage" type name to make it a cycling Icon...

Seriously, if they charged $250 for the jersey (instead of SRP$99), lots of us would line up for it. If the Bibs were almost $350 (vs. $179), people would look at them as reasonable rivals for Assos. The same goes for the Jacket...

The jersey is one of the best summer skins I have ever tried (massive venting, great pockets, easy zip, well stitched). The shorts’ compression, build quality and Chamois would be near anyone's top of the line, The Jacket is the nicest lightweight wind shell I have ever used.

I wish I didn't know why I underestimated Gore Bike Wear, but I do. I'm a bike snob that gets a bit of tunnel vision with regard to cycle specific clothing brands.

I mean how could a brand like Gore possibly be considered great performance bike gear when they also acknowledge the "lesser people" of the world that don't ride round with their asses over their head and the their hearts exploding?

Turns out they take the knowledge gained from lots of performance conditions and combine it with some very good cycling specific minds and poof! You wind up with clothing that's not embarrassed to stand up to exceptional performance demands while simultaneously embarrassing materialistic, narrow-minded guys like me by not charging enough for it...


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