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The Gore Wear C3 Bib Shorts+ are straightforward, no-nonsense and just fundamentally do the job – at least for short or casual rides. You might want thicker and more sophisticated padding if longer rides are in the offing.
At first glance these are reassuringly unremarkable: plain in colour, mesh around the upper body, with a minimalistic pad and gripper elastic at the legs.
The look in particular will be very appealing to some. Where many shorts are coloured or accented in such a way that they only ever look right when worn with a matching jersey from the same brand, the C3s are the same colour all over: you can go for black or 'orbit blue' if you're feeling particularly ostentatious.
We've previously reviewed Gore's Torrent and Ardent bib shorts and the key differences with the C3 Bib Shorts+ are the pad and the price. Whereas those feature Gore's middle-of-the-range 'Advanced' and top-of-the-line 'Expert' pad respectively, the C3s use the 'Active' level.
Pads tend to be foamy at the cheaper end and thicker and more rubbery as you progress up the range. This one is definitely on the foamy side. Different pads suit different people, but the Active is disappointingly thin and basic for £80.
That said, I can't especially fault it for performance. These are billed as being 'essential padded bib shorts for commutes and fun rides alike' which doesn't suggest they're intended for long days in the saddle. Nevertheless, I wore them for a few hours a time and they served me reasonably well.
The foaminess does have its limitations where there's prolonged pressure, but I certainly had no rubbing or bunching. The stitching is neat and low profile too.
The bib part is entirely mesh, with a light construction up the back and a slightly thicker, stretchy material for the straps. It's all nice and airy and the straps offer good give to accommodate different heights of torso. There are no hems either so they aren't going to dig in.
Sizing seems pretty much bang on to Gore's size guide, and against other shorts I've owned.
As mentioned above, this doesn't feel like a lot of pad for your money, even if's fine for their intended use. The Pearl Izumi Escape Quest Bib Shorts serve a similar purpose with what sounds like a similar sort of pad, only with a price tag of £49.99.
The same goes for the £50 Sundried Drop Men's Training Bib Shorts, albeit with a snazzier look.
At £80 these are up against various options promising greater comfort, such as the Orro Pyro Line Bibshorts (£69.99) and the Polaris Latitude Bib Shorts (£79.99). The latter are primarily aimed at long-distance road riders.
For their intended commuting and short to mid-length leisure ride duties, the C3s are a safe bet. However, it's not hard to find shorts with similar capabilities for less money, or with better performance for the same money.
Well made bibshorts with a classic look, but the basic pad is disappointing given the price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Wear C3 Bib Shorts+
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Gore says: "The essential padded bib shorts for commutes and fun rides alike.
"Whether you commute to work or signed up for your first fondo, everyone needs a comfortable and reliable short. Benefitting from years of trickle-down GORE technology, this versatile padded short keeps you comfortable mile after mile."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
ACTIVE seat insert
Full mesh bib construction for optimum ventilation
Inseam length 25 cm / 10 inch
Optimized seam placement for comfort
MESH 87% Polyamide
Nicely put together.
The pad is disappointingly basic and not supportive enough on long rides.
They're still in their first year, but there are no signs of wear.
Pretty close to my own expectations and the size guide.
The longer you ride, the lower that score drops...
You can get much better pads at this price.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Threw them in with the rest of the laundry with no ill effects.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Hold their own for commuter riding and shorter leisure/sport rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The plain black look.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd like a thicker pad for the money.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Not especially well. You can find similar shorts for less, and more sophisticated ones for the same price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe at a discount
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not strongly
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're well made and look good, but the pad is disappointingly basic for the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 3 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding,