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I'm a big fan of a casual jersey that quietly delivers on performance too. The Gore Explore Shirt Women's combines low-key gravel and touring looks with a soft, stretchy merino blend that's easy to wear and does a great job of staying comfortable and dry. It's not for the short of stature, though, and it's expensive.
If you're nipping out for a gravel ride, a spot of touring or even just a trip to the shop, tight lycra isn't always what you're looking for. This jersey from Gore is aimed squarely at gravel and touring, and uses a light, stretchy knitted fabric that's 47% merino and 53% polyester. The cut is contoured but not snug, with a stretch that doesn't cling too tightly or flap either. It really is a pleasure to wear on the bike.
The features are minimal, with a Henley style neck that fastens with four press studs, a couple of reflective logos and a small zipped pocket.
The fit is accurate, with the size 42 fitting me (dress size UK14) well, although Gore's size chart claims this size is a UK16-18. The body length is quite surprising though – great for coverage even in aggressive positions, but probably a bit long for the shorter of torso.
Despite that quite high merino content, the fabric is superbly soft and extremely comfortable next to the skin. I found it a touch on the warm side for really hot weather, but it remained comfortable even then, as it breathes really well. It doesn't get unduly sweaty or smelly either.
It dries very quickly too, both in use and after washing – a handy characteristic in a touring jersey.
The neckline features a slightly stiffened tape for the press studs, and it does mean the collar only really sits either fully up or down – very slightly irritating in terms of ventilation, but by no means a deal breaker. Personally, I think good old-fashioned buttons would have been a better choice.
The zipped pocket proved another niggle – it's so small it's only really useful for cash or cards, or maybe an old-school clamshell mobile if that's still your thing. There's no way a smartphone would fit in there, though such stretchy fabric would struggle to support the weight anyway.
At a penny under £80, the Explore is on the expensive side for a casual top, though isn't too far over the odds for short-sleeve tops using this kind of fabric. It's nearly £15 more expensive than the Rapha Women's Explore Technical T-Shirt at £65, and nearly £10 more than the already-pricey 7mesh Desperado Merino Henley at £70. It's also £20 more than the arguably more stylish Endura GV500 Foyle T at £59.99.
The Explore is a lovely top – it's light, soft, comfortable and breathable, and does what it's designed to do very well. It's definitely worth considering if you have the money.
Comfortable, breathable, fast-drying and soft – a great low-key gravel and touring jersey, but the price is high
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Explore Shirt Women's
Size tested: L/42
Tell us what the product is for
Gore says: "Designed for gravel riding and multi-day tours, to keep you feeling fresh even on long days in the saddle."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Highly functional material mix for optimum comfort, high breathability and quick redrying time
47% merino wool (mulesing-free) 53% polyester
High moisture management
High next-to-skin comfort
Buttoned placket with snaps
Back zip pocket
Very well made from high quality fabric (including ethically produced merino), and nicely finished.
Washes well and the fabric is a good balance of soft but tough. The merino content keeps bad smells at bay.
Soft stretchy fabric makes fit very versatile. No bagginess.
Sizing was pretty accurate as per Gore's online sizing chart, but quite long if you're shorter than 5ft 5in.
Great fit plus the fabric stretch, softness, breathability and speed of drying make this extremely comfortable.
Quite expensive against similar jerseys.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to look after, and dries very quickly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Soft and comfortable fabric, casual style and fit, quick drying.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly stiff collar, long cut won't suit everyone, zipped pocket is tiny, expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At a penny under £80, the Explore is on the expensive side for a casual top, though isn't too far over the odds for short-sleeve tops using this kind of fabric. It's nearly £15 more expensive than the Rapha Women's Explore Technical T-Shirt at £65, and nearly £10 more than the already pricey 7mesh Desperado Merino Henley at £70. It's also £20 more than the more stylish Endura GV500 Foyle T at £59.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much
Would you consider buying the product? I already have, but not at full price
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a very effective and extremely comfortable jersey that does a great job for gravel and touring riding. Only the price counts against it – there's excellent competition out there for significantly less.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.