Review: Gore Windstopper Thermo Gloves & Xenon 2.0 Soft Shell Bib Tights
Well before it got cold enough to warrant such items, a couple boxes of Gore’s finest showed up. And sat. And sat, all while we enjoyed a mild start to the winter. Then the frozen air hit like a wall, and the Xenon 2.0 Windstopper Soft Shell Bib Tights and the Windstopper Thermo gloves were called to action.
The Thermo WS gloves come in both standard and lobster versions. Both were tested. All items use their Windstopper membrane, which is plenty effective at stopping the chill from getting through and slows down water penetration significantly. That, combined with a fleecy interior and solid coverage make for some very warm bits of kit without adding bulk. Check out the details and full review below…
The bibs use their “Xenon Man seat insert”, which is their endurance oriented pad. Getting it to lay this flat for the photo was a challenge – it’s heavily sculpted to wrap around your special section. The part that stands out is just how massive the front section of the pad is. Gore’s rep didn’t have an explanation at the ready, but my hunch is it’s there to add warmth. The Windstopper (WS) panel covers the crotch and lower abdomen, too, which all work together to keep everything nice and warm down there. Surprisingly, wind blocking fabric in the crotch isn’t as common as it should be in winter gear, so this is a big plus!
The pad has perforated foam of varied thickness with a relieved center channel (hard to see in this pic) and gel inserts under the sit bones (red area). It’s fairly comfortable, but the oversized front had a tendency to fold funny when standing up and required a bit of adjustment when sitting back down. I have to add this caveat to that: I’m 6’2″ and tested a size XL. Fit wise, it’s perfect, but at my height, when you have stirrups on one end and straps on the other, sometimes things are tugged in the wrong way. When sitting and pedaling, everything felt fine -there was no pull or discomfort- but standing up shifted things just enough. I suspect folks under 6’2″ would not notice this. And I’ll trade the occasional adjustment for the added warmth.
Almost the entire insides are fleeced for warmth. Only the front of the bib straps are a mesh, everything else is insulative. That nice wide back panel does wonders.
The stirrups are thin with a firm stretch. They line up perfectly when sliding my legs in, something not every bib tight I’ve tried does. That’s a seemingly small thing, but it means the entire garment lines up the way it should. There’s no odd twisting or pulling or stretching in the riding position, it just lays the way it should and moves with the body.
The front WS panels have a bit different inside feel, but they’re still fuzzy and warm.
Just ignore that non-Gore jersey (It’s Bicycle Line and it’s also very nice). The Xenon 2.0 bib tights are available in all black or this handsome white and black. Both have 360º reflective graphics.
I like that the white has a Shamu appearance, turning almost completely white from the rear (brighter for cars to see) except for the splash zone.
See? Nice and bright.
They retail for $229.99 and are the best winter bib tights I’ve worn yet, large chamois pad and all.
The Road WS Thermo gloves use a soft shell Windstopper outer with reinforced palm, fingertips (thumb, pointer, index only) and gripper section between thumb and pointer finger.
Silicone finger graphics enhance brake lever grip.
Reflective panel on the outside of the pinky finger helps with side visibility, and helps cars see you signal turns at night. The only main complaint is the relatively small terry panel for wiping snot…something especially important on a winter glove. It’s pretty easy to overpower it, and the stitching for the reinforcement can rub your nose the wrong way.
The insides are lined with a soft fleece and have an inner wrist sleeve. Tuck that under your jacket sleeve, then wrap the outer Velcro section over it for complete windproofness. And cut those obnoxiously large tags off the second you get them.
The lobster version is identical except the out shell pairs your fingers together. Inside, a fleece wall provides separate channels for each finger, adding a bit of extra insulation without hindering dexterity too much. In fact, these were surprisingly agile around a drop bar on both standard shifters and Di2 buttons.
Note various hand positions, all equally workable.
The muddy pics of the gloves directly above were following that same cold, rainy race that broke in the Hayes CX Pro brakes. The 50 minute ride to the venue in a light drizzle tested the water repellency claims, giving me about 30-35 minutes before the water made it all the way to my digits. At which point, things were less warm than I’d like, but tolerable considering the outside temp was hovering around 36ºF. They did get pretty darn cold standing around waiting for the race to start, but about halfway into the first lap, they were again tolerable to the point where I didn’t notice them being wet until after the finish. So, in the unlikely event you head out in a winter drizzle, just know they’ll keep you from cursing by half.
On dry winter days, I’d say they’re good down to the mid-20′sº depending on your tolerance. I rode the fingered version on a mid-20′s mountain bike ride for 2.5 hours and had intermittent finger tip freezing, but my tolerance (or my circulation) is admittedly not as hearty as some folks.
Fit and finish is pretty good, and a run through the washer spits them out looking brand new. There are two small sections where the stitching is pulling the outer fabric a bit too much, which will likely get worse over the next couple rides. These are called “road” gloves, though, and I’ve worn them in ‘cross and mountain biking a bit, so perhaps I’ve used them beyond what they’re built for. Your call on that, and they do make rougher looking models.
Retail? I wish I knew. They’re not currently listed on Gore’s website, but our rep says they’re available. Best bet is to have your favorite local bike shop order them up.