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Gore's C3 Thermo Bib Tights+ offer excellent fit, warmth and comfort at a price that compares very favourably with their rivals.
When kitting yourself out for late autumn and winter rides, a pair of tights, or longs, is an essential purchase. And whatever your level of ability or income, these C3 Thermo Bib Tights+ should definitely be on your shortlist.
The key to comfortable cycling through all seasons is protection from the elements without bulk or unnecessary weight, and the C3s hit the mark. Easy to pull on and remove, the leg fabric sits lightly on the skin while the mesh straps do their job excellently without applying undue pressure to your shoulders. The seamless design also ensures zero irritation. Gore suggests you will forget the straps are even there when riding, and for once a marketing claim rings true.
The back is also made of a light mesh which adds to both the comfort and temperature regulation. It might be cold out there, but your body still needs to breathe.
I found the legs themselves an excellent fit to size, these mediums hugging the skin without any creases, and doing so with no additional compression. If you're an advocate of on-bike compression then it might be worth trying a size down, but for everyday comfort without a drop in performance, the fit is spot on.
The thermal fabric used throughout works well in trapping warmth while allowing sweat to wick away, and the water resistant panel on the back should be a bonus for maintaining comfort should you get caught out on a bike without mudguards in the wet. It worked for me in a shower on an otherwise sunny autumn day, but in worse conditions my SKS mudguards did the work instead.
Another welcome feature is the use of Gore's famed Windstopper fabric in the groin area. Using tights with an intrinsic pad (as opposed to padless tights over your favourite shorts) can leave this area exposed to the bitter winds of winter, and while I wasn't out in anything close to freezing conditions in November I certainly felt no sign of chill with the temperature in high single figures. Gore claims the tights will do their job down to 5°C, and while temperatures never got lower than 9°C during the test period, I was given no cause to doubt that claim.
The pad used is Gore's Active Comfort Seat Insert, which sits at the bottom of the company's insert range, using a single layer of foam less dense than on its Advanced and Elite level inserts. This is, on the face of it, the one area of the C3 tights where it looks as though Gore has compromised to keep the cost of this product down, but in use the pad is well suited to the narrower shape of a traditional road bike saddle and proved sufficiently comfortable throughout testing. If this was the only compromise Gore had to make to bring these excellent tights in at under £100, it was a small one and well worth making.
At £89.99 these offer excellent value, and would be worth lining up against the Endura FS260-Pro Thermo tights we reviewed back in January. Those are a tenner more though they do offer more water resistance.
Overall, these are really good mid-price tights with the comfort and features that you might expect from a more expensive product.
Great value bib longs that offer warmth and comfort in equal measure
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore C3 Thermo Bib Tights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Gore says: 'Thermal bib tights for cycling in cold conditions, WINDSTOPPER® cup creates space along the groin, increased breathability and wind protection. Thermal insulation protects your knees and muscles while retaining freedom of movement. For riders seeking winter protection who want the fit of bib tights.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Designed for 5-15°C temperatures
Designed for freedom of movement
Full mesh bib construction for optimum fit and breathability
Inseam length 73 cm / 28.7 inches
Seam-free mesh bib design for optimum close-to-skin comfort, reduces friction
Thermo-stretch functional fabric
Wind and spray protection panel along the groin and center back
ACTIVE Comfort seat insert with GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Cup
After a month or so of regular use with rides of one-to-four hours, and several washes, the C3s show no noticeable sign of wear beyond some light rubbing on the fabric where it meets the saddle. Eventual, long-term durability can only be judged over a significantly longer period, of course, but Gore has a good reputation for a reason.
At a glance the features might seem relatively standard for this price range, but the materials used are first class. These hold their own against much more expensive longs.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washing caused no issues and the tights feel like new after a few cycles in the machine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The tights were an excellent fit, warm and proved comfortable over rides over four or so hours. The pad protected all the right areas.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to get on and off, a comfortable fit and the straps feel very natural with no pulling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much to dislike, especially for the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're good value compared with many – Endura's FS260-Pro Thermo tights we reviewed back in January are a tenner more (but do use a DWR fabric). To get this quality elsewhere you will be looking at spending quite a bit more, such as £125 for the Sportful Bodyfit Pro tights or £150 for the dhb Aeron LAB All Winter tights.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're really good: mid-price tights with the comfort and features you might expect from a more expensive product.
About the tester
I usually ride: Genesis Equilibrium My best bike is: Look 585
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, The nursery run!