This winter, Team Wiggle’s Tim Wiggins is ‘Living with Gore Bike Wear’. As a long distance endurance cyclist, he will be thoroughly testing the Oxygen range from the German clothing brand; reporting back on his favourite pieces throughout the season.
His first blog in the series, ‘Early Winter Riding’, focused on the kit that is ideal for the transition seasons. His second piece, ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’, considered the added insulation kit from the brand; as temperatures fell (a bit). This third and final post, considers the real deep winter apparel; from a company well-reputed for its fabric technology...
My deep-winter kit list
With temperatures finally falling into negative Celsius in the past few weeks, I have had a chance to test the ‘proper winter’ apparel from the GORE Oxygen range.
The line-up includes:
- Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Windstopper Softshell Bib Tights
- Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Windstopper Softshell Jacket
- Gore Bike Wear Road Softshell Overshoes
- Gore Bike Wear Universal Gore-Tex Thermo Gloves
In my first post in this series, I talked about the hugely respected Windstopper technology from Gore. It provides a lightweight and super breathable, yet highly protective outer layer. The Softshell variation is Gore's answer to the need for added insulation; featuring a fleecy backing added to the Windstopper outer, it provides a superb protective and insulating winter fabric.
Windstopper Softshell is used throughout the deep winter range from Gore Bike Wear; providing a level of breathability and protection that I honestly haven't discovered in jackets and accessories before. It is impressive. Whether it is the protection from spray and wind on the legs of the Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Windstopper Softshell Bib Tights, or the luxuriously warm feet and hands that are provided by the Softshell Overshoes and Gore Bike Wear Universal Gore-Tex Thermo Gloves. This technology works.
To make the most of the Softshell fabric, Gore have been strategic in where they place it. For example, on the bib tights the lower leg and thigh muscles really benefit from the added insulation and protection; as does the high-cut zippered bib panel, which helps to keep your core toasty. Meanwhile, the knee joint areas don't use the fabric, which means they retain greater flexibility.
Gore Bike Wear's fabric approach demonstrates targeted protection, which is exactly what you want in outdoor active wear.
The devil is in the detail
Winter riding is about distance for me. It is when you are in the saddle for long periods of time, that you notice even the smallest fittings and features on apparel; which summed together, make a world of difference to comfort.
Gore Bike Wear have clearly paid attention to the details in the Oxygen winter range, and there are some impressive features, and evidence of thorough testing. The collars, grippers and zippers are a prime example: The collar on the Oxygen Windstopper Softshell Jacket is high-cut, fleece-lined and contoured to provide added protection on the sides and front, without interfering with your helmet cradle on the rear. The grippers on the hem of the jacket, are high-stretch and rubberised; helping to seal out the cold, and seal in the body-heat. Even the zipper on the jacket has been considered; with a pull tab to protect the fabric at the base of the jacket, and a larger leather zipper pull, to make it easier to use with thick winter gloves. The devil is in the detail, and these are great details.
There is no doubt that this kit is warm. It would be at home in the heights of the Alps, let alone the milder climes of Southern England. However, it has also proven versatile. The Oxygen Jacket has 'pit-vent' zippers, to improve airflow into the jacket, if things do start heating up. The Gore Bike Wear Road Softshell Overshoes, despite their thick fleece lining, have kept my feet dry and perspiration-free, even when the sun has come out; thanks to the significant breathability of the Softshell fabric. This is deep winter kit, but it is also all-winter kit.
The detail has been considered when it comes to visibility, too. I talked extensively about the benefits of Hi-Vis in my first blog in this series; but this kit also features bold fluorescent colours, reflective trim and reflective logos, which all help to keep you seen on those grey winter days. All the little details combine together, to make for significant benefits.
Mile after mile of comfort
Whether it has been riding in winter gales and hail storms, or commuting on frosty clear mornings; this deep winter kit has provided an invaluable head-to-toe protective collection this season.
Warm feet and hands; twinned with dexterity and dryness. Supple insulated muscles; coupled with flexible joints and a protected core temperature. A comfortable, cushioned seat pad; keeping your underside complaint free. Finally, a jacket that insulates and protects you from the elements; whilst remaining comfortable and versatile when the temperature changes.
Gore-Tex and Gore Apparel have long led the market in fabric technology. This winter kit really showcases what is possible in terms of protection, comfort and attention to detail.
Great riding, Mile after Mile.