We spent weeks researching and testing these to learn as much as we could about their performance. We look at their strengths and weaknesses, what other riders like about them, what they don't like, and how they compare to other top shorts on the market. Keep reading to see how they stack up against the competition and if they're right for you.
Yes, this is a bit of a subjective measure, but these are clearly better looking than most off-the-shelf bib shorts out there. Without running off into the avant-garde, Gore brought a lot more color into what is typically a dull design market. Granted, we're talking a maximum range of two tones. But they come with a handful of color choices, which, again, can be something of a rarity in the world of general retail bike kits.
We think the C5 bibs are among the sexiest cut and the best bet for color options. That won't help you much if they don't have your colors or don't like the panel lines. If you want something with even bolder cuts and textured material, w think you might find the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 shorts (not bib shorts) to be interesting - we certainly did. If you're after just a wee bit of flair, but don't want to overdo it, try the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts, which use just a bit of color on the lower thigh and nice anatomical contour cuts.
Gore's use of bold contrasts and basic colors make the C5+ an easy win on visual appeal. Nothing too extravagant, but still more stylish than most the competition.
The first thing you notice when you don the Gore C5 Bib Shorts+ on is that they're pretty darn tight. The next is that they're really thin. They have a fairly high mix of polyamide (nylon), so they can be really thin and still tough as heck. That allows them to be thin enough for sweat and moisture to be easily pulled out in the wind or sun. They also use a thinner, less dense chamois that doesn't hold water the way the denser pads do. Plus, Gore's WINDSTOPPER Cup limits the amount of rain that can seep in if you're dealing with weather.
Between thin fabric, lower padding, and a windshield, these are hard to beat on breathability. Both cycling shorts that do better here have a little help in their material mix. They both add in just a little or a little more than 15% polyester to preserve strength while adding a degree of hydrophobia, thereby limiting water and heat retention.
The SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts are a bit sexier and thinner and breathe perfectly. The Assos T Equipe Evo bib shorts are this year's Editor's Choice Award winner, sporting slightly thicker, tougher fabric that breathes just as freely as the SUGOIs, but with the added benefit of the most comfortable chamois you'll ever couple with. Our suggestion is to go with the latter, but there may be other factors to consider between the two.
Descending down into a valley is when you really notice how breathable shorts are - drying out is usually welcome and the Gore C5s have a special WINDSTOPPERÂ® Cup to mitigate the less welcome aspects.
Padding and Protection
The Gore C5 bib shorts occupy an interesting spot with their super lean Advanced Road insert. As one would expect, it's engineered for roadies down in a forward position. That's one of the reasons why it's so well suited to crits and short, hard rides and why it earns our Top Pick for Short Course Award. The padding is targeted to the front where you're grinding into the saddle down in the drops trying to crank out the watts. That relief is aided by the WINDSTOPPER Cup. In addition to protecting from the cold and damp, its concave shape and other internal features reduce pressure and undercarriage compression.
The chamois footprint is also pretty small, meaning there's less padding to get in the way of pedaling and jumping around in the saddle. It made a good deal of difference out on the Tuesday Crit rides, but it's worth noting that once we switched over to do our slow miles after the ride (last 10-15 miles after 90 minutes at pace), we noticed that these had lean padding. The tradeoff is worth it, but maybe restructure your rides to do the slow miles another day instead of post-workout.
Our biggest complaint here was that the tight shorts tended to pin down the bait and tackle a bit too much. Some riders prefer that strapped-in design, but for others, a less restrictive compartment is where it's at. The shorts that do the best job of addressing that problem are the Assos T Equipe Evo. The thinner, free-floating padding tends to adjust with the body, creating a protective, form-fitting cup. If you find yourself struggling to adjust in tight shorts, take a look at the Assos. If that's a bit too top-shelf for you, you might also like the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts. They use a more traditional chamois with a smallish footprint and targeted padding. They're not quite as thin as the C5s, but they're still great performers for both crit-type rides and longer rides north of two or three hours.
The Gore C5+, in blue, use a thinner, tapered chamois to deliver just enough protection and padding to get you through a few hours of hard work while preserving your freedom of movement.
Comfort and Fit
The Gore C5 Bib Shorts+ have a tight cut and strong material with less flexibility that gives them a sporty, ready-for-action feel. They have a comfortable second-skin fit with a bit of compression, so it almost feels like you're still bulked up from a lifting session - just ready to fire. We'll cover that a bit more in the Pedal Friendliness section below.
The shoulder straps are wide, smooth, and very forgiving.
The shorts are made up of 80% polyamide and 20% elastane, pushing them a bit to the firm, non-stretch side. The fabric's texture has a smooth, almost satin quality to it, so it's very kind to the skin. Gore also minimizes the seams and stitching, limiting potential sources of chafe. The leg cuffs also limit chafe and discomfort by simply doubling-up instead of using some sort of silicone or other type of high-friction gripper. They work quite well, but eventually, the legs begin to ride up, especially after the sweat gets going and the thighs expand. Even so, it's not a serious problem with these, and it's pretty unavoidable with most shorts.
These cycling shorts are meant to be light and lean for hard work. They're not silk boxers for lounging. That said, they have something of a time limit on comfort - about 90 minutes. Any longer and you're going to want more padding, more stretch, more suppleness in the fabric. For short, hard rides, you've probably found one of the best options in the Gore C5s. For longer rides, you should consider the Editors' Choice Assos T Equipe Evos. They offer a good deal of support, but their material has a nice form-fitting stretch that feels like a consensual hug. If that's a bit too top-shelf for you, the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bib Shorts have similar huggy, stretchy qualities that deliver both form-fit and sufficient comfort for hours of enjoyable riding.
The C5s feature a simple double-up cuff instead of grippers, improving comfort while perhaps sacrificing some fit.
Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness
These shorts strike an interesting balance under this measure. As discussed under the Comfort and Fit segment, they have a compressive quality, which has some benefits and some drawbacks. This somewhat comes down to rider preference between support/compression and flexibility/form-fit. These mostly fall on the side of support/compression. Their cut is athletic, and their fabric has a high mix of polyamide, which doesn't stretch as much as lycra and polyester, so it tends to squeeze a bit more. That makes them a bit tougher to pull on and get all adjusted and unwrinkled. For riders who appreciate the compression, these have it in abundance.
But you don't generally get compression without a bit of resistance. They can start to feel a bit heavy or resistant if you're at the end of a ride or feeling weak. It's your choice whether you interpret that extra tightness as form-support or extra resistance training. We generally reduced their score because the fabric, thin though it is, doesn't allow that same sense of freedom and flexibility as higher scoring cycling shorts.
Another major factor in their excellent performance is their chamois. It's light and lean, so it doesn't bunch up or alter pedaling form. It almost feels like the ZOOT SPORTS Active Tri 8-Inch Short, whose chamois consisted of just a fleece cloth. The difference is that there's actual padding, so you can still get a good 90 minutes of saddle-grinding before it's a real problem.
These do a great job of hitting both efficiency and pedal friendliness, with the only limitations being that the high polyamide content might add some resistance to pedaling. The SUGOi bib shorts just barely beat them out with a tight cut and higher degree of flexibility. The best alternative would be the Assos bibs, which have also have both a tight cut and good flexibility.
You really notice the Gore C5s' efficiency on the short, punchy climbs and high-cadence crit rides.
Gore tends to make tough, durable stuff and there's no exception with the C5 Bib Shorts+. They use a blend of 80% polyamide and 20% elastane for strong fabric that will withstand a few seasons of good abuse. Higher polyamide mixes are usually more resistant to tears and fraying. They also use thicker stitching and good seam designs to minimize structural weakness (more seams tend to mean more opportunities for degradation).
Their tough content and simple, conservative design put them up near the top of the measure. They came in alongside the Editors' Choice Assos, which earned their spot using a similar approach to high-strength fabric and limiting seams. Their fabric has a lower mix of polyamide, but it adds in polyester to supplement the lycra's weakness, and it's just a bit thicker. The highest scoring cycling shorts in this measure are the Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool Bib Shorts. They use 80% nylon, 12% elastane, and 8% polyester, making them super resistant to wear, but also really resistant to movement and somewhat resistant to comfort. We think the C5s will be all you need for a few good seasons.
High polyamide content, minimized seams, and strong stitching should see a few good seasons out of the Gore C5 Bib Shorts+.
These are primarily for short, hard rides, like criteriums, time trials, and road races under 90 minutes. Lighter guys will likely see more versatility and comfort in these, but they do best on short, intense rides. They're also great for spin classes!
We feel these are reasonably priced, especially if a majority of your riding is crit-style or spin classes. We'll reiterate here that for you lighter, leaner guys who tend to have longer comfort windows, there's a bit more value to these.
Gore tends to make good gear, and these are no exception. Our Top Pick for Short Course hits all the right marks for fast crit shorts. They're thin, strong, supportive, and padded just enough to get you through 90 minutes of death-gripping down in the drops. Lighter riders will get a lot more mileage and comfort, but for the bulls among us, 90 minutes at crit-speed is really where these excel and earn their keep. Their strong nylon mix and pro cut also serve to bring you down into racing position, keeping your form tight while compressing your legs just enough to make them feel fresh and springy (it's up to you to change that). If you have a regular crit ride or do shorter races, these should be on your list of shorts to consider, especially if you're on the lighter, leaner side. If you need a bit more padding or do longer rides, take a look at the ASSOS T Equipe EVO.
The Gore C5+ bib shorts are an unbeatable choice for short rides and KOM-hunting.