The super-lightweight C7 Race Jersey from Gore costs an awful lot per gram but offers great warm-weather performance.
Pros: Super-stretchy race fit, high-quality performance fabrics
Cons: Sizes come up small, the price comes up large
If you insist on the best of everything, and you are confident in your body shape, the C7 Race Jersey may well be on your shopping list for this summer's holiday riding.
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Gore describes the C7 Race as, 'for racing, high intensity training, or the biggest ride of your summer'. Gore even corralled the mighty Fabian Cancellara to help with the design. While it's not clear what he contributed, it seems to me that if you're a good enough rider to benefit from Spartacus designing your riding kit for you, you must be taking your riding seriously. Actually, if you are that good, you're probably on a team and wearing whatever the DS throws at you.
Most of my rides, it's fair to say, take place at the kind of intensity where I have plenty of spare wind to say hello to the horses and cows along the way. (I suspect Cancellara hardly ever does this, and certainly never during a time trial.) It's equally true that the vast majority of my rides take place well below the minimum 16°C intended for this top. Given that the C7 turned up for testing here in County Durham in February, my main problem with it is that it just never quite seems to be the right day to wear it.
However, the February heatwave (remember that?) did bring some shorts-and-short-sleeves conditions even to this neck of the woods, and I genuinely was out in full-summer kit on two days of the month. Easter also brought warm conditions when the C7 Race came into its own.
In such conditions, toiling sweatily up Crawleyside Bank out of Weardale, the C7 reveals its qualities. The super-close, stretchy fit makes it a very efficient garment to wear. Nothing flaps or rubs, heat and moisture transfer are excellent. The fabric is so soft and well-fitted, you scarcely notice it.
Because the fit is so slim, I found it better not to wear a baselayer, which would result in uncomfortable and unsightly wrinkling; a close-fitting sleeveless vest might be OK. Even with just the one layer and in spite of Gore rating the C7 as only 1 out of 5 for windproofing, I didn't feel under-dressed on descents, provided the breeze was a mild one. Otherwise, a light windproof fits easily into one of the three very accommodating back pockets. (The middle pocket also has a securely-zipped key pocket riding on it.)
I was a little annoyed at the sizing. 'Our sizes may run a little smaller than you expect,' says Gore on its website, as though this was something beyond the company's control. My Large was too tight for me, particularly under the arms and at the end of a long, stodge-fuelled winter. Guys, here's a tip: all those jerseys labelled 'Large', take the labels out and sew ones in that say Medium. Repeat throughout the range.
While the sizing and particularly the pricing suggest Italian (and the label says 'Engineered in Germany'), the manufacture is Chinese. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, as the quality is good, though I have seen tidier stitching on some of the internal seams.
The fabric is remarkably robust for such a light garment, stretching generously in all directions. Under the arms, a ventilated fabric aids the cooling. The waist grip is a separate strip, broad enough to provide a secure fit.
At the sleeves, there's a stitched-over cuff (again, not the tidiest I've seen) and a half-diameter silicone strip for grip.
Even on my too-small sample the sleeve length was good, reaching almost to the elbow, so there was good coverage for an arm warmer.
A full-length zip, a must-have for any summer top for me, is present and correct and comes complete with a draught-baffle which is good in a top of this light weight. Gore makes a point about the shaped collar at the back of the neck. At first I wasn't too sure about this – it looked like the collar had got accidentally rolled under – but in use it was comfortable and eliminated any tendency for the collar to press at the Adam's apple.
As for value... Without scouring the whole backlog, I'm guessing it's one if not the most expensive jersey we've tested on road.cc. Some have come close: the no-longer-available Louison Bobet, which ticked many of the same boxes as the Gore C7 Race, was £145, and the Nalini AHS Mortirolo £155. But two summers ago I tested the Santini Tono Short Sleeved Jersey which is a similarly summer-centric, lightweight top. While the Gore seems more robust, it's also more than twice the price.
> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best summer cycling jerseys
So, given the design brief, I thought the C7 Race did the job very well. If you're off to hot climes for your summer holidays, the kind of destination where you get off the plane and realise instantly that everything else you've brought to ride in will be too warm, this is the kind of garment you need. The flip-side is that it necessarily lacks versatility. You can layer it up, as you can with any other jersey, but in that case you might as well wear something considerably cheaper, especially as nobody will be able to see it.
Racy fitting, soft and comfortable top for hot weather, ideal for the wealthy pro currently between contracts...
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Make and model: Gore C7 Race Jersey
Tell us what the product is for
Gore says: "A modern cut cycling jersey that can be worn for racing, high intensity training, or the biggest ride of your summer. Carefully thought out technical details will ensure you're free to perform your best all season long."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Flat seam sleeves
Developed with Fabian Cancellara
3D rear pocket construction gives more storage space
Stealth black look with reflective details on all sides for 360 degree visibility
Shaped collar at back of neck
Secure zip pocket on rear for keys or valuables
Modern, aero road cycling fit: lengthened sleeves and dropped tail
Highly technical fabric mix creates a lightweight but snug fitting jersey
Grip elastic at waist hem for snug fit
Full length zipper with zip port at neck
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Made in China, though the price suggests otherwise. All the stitching seems strong. Some of the seams looked decidedly untidy on the inside but not noticeable in use and didn't affect the strength. Fabric quality seems very good for such a light garment.
Rate the product for performance:
On the odd occasions when temperatures fell into Gore's suggested range it worked very well.
Rate the product for durability:
For such a light garment this seems remarkably robust. No snags or little holes developing and has washed well, though it does retain the crumples.
Rate the product for fit:
Bearing in mind I would have preferred a size larger, the fit was very close as Gore intended. The very stretchy fabric means you should be able to get your ideal fit somewhere in the five sizes available.
Rate the product for sizing:
"Our sizes may run a little smaller than you expect," says Gore. I strongly suggest sizing up.
Rate the product for weight:
I've done the washing up with heavier cloths.
Rate the product for comfort:
Very good all round. Setting aside the sizing problem which meant it was a bit tight under the arms, it's the kind of garment that you don't really know you are wearing – and I mean that in a good way.
Rate the product for value:
Well, this is the down-side. Yes, it's Gore's top-o-the-range product and offers the best of everything, but even so it's one of the most expensive out there and that's including brands manufactured in Europe rather than China. The lack of versatility also means you may not get as much use out of it in a UK summer as the price deserves.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to wash even by hand and very quick to dry. It does look a bit wrinkly but the stretch removes these in use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Gore says it's "for racing, high intensity training, or the biggest ride of your summer" and I can't argue with that. If you're taking two weeks on the Continent this year and want something high-performance and well-ventilated, this is the job.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quality performance, soft fabric with plenty of stretch, great looks and fantastic warm-weather comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price, the small sizing, only available in black.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There's no doubt the C7 Race is at the high end of the price range, especially for a non-EU manufactured garment. Two summers ago I tested the Santini Tono Short Sleeved Jersey which is a similarly summer-centric, lightweight top. While the Gore seems more robust, it's also more than twice the price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If my premium bonds come up...
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only the one with the Ferrari.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The C7 Race Jersey does everything Gore says and does it extremely well. You pay a lot for the performance, though, and for typical UK riding you may not want to wear it on that many days. Overall, I'd say that makes it an 8 not a 9.
Age: 52 Height: 6'2 Weight: 73kg and holding steady
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
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