Burn your bibs.
The ladies at Competitive are torn about bibs. Half of us think they're an absolute necessity; the other half that they're an absolute evil. Obviously, Gore Bike Wear's Element Windstopper Soft Shell Tights cater to the latter group, making a strong argument that warm cycling gear doesn't need bibs to be effective. The lack of bibs means that many of the features Gore includes to accommodate a woman's anatomy in the bibbed version of these tights are irrelevant and so not included. The fact that there are so many problems that need to be addressed for bibs to work with our bodies does beg the question: Are bibs a men-specific design that has no place in women's clothing?
As with all Gore clothing, the star of these tights is the fabric. They incorporate three layers in a build more akin to a 2.5 layer construction: an outer shell, a Windstopper membrane, and a lining. In this cycling sandwich, the two pieces of bread protect the Windstopper so that it can protect you, keeping you warm, breathing to transfer moisture and prevent overheating, and fending-off the elements. The back panel has a more flexible but less protective blend of materials, letting you move freely in the areas that don't need as much wind protection.
The Element line's Soft Shell construction is a touch heavier than Gore's similar Active Shell fabric, owing to a difference in lining. Active Shell uses a thin, mesh-like scrim for wind protection without adding undue warmth and weight while the Soft Shell incorporates a plush, soft lining that's thicker for insulation in cold weather. Given that we typically turn to tights for warmth and we have a propensity for soft things, we like the Soft Shell very much.
For the chamois, Gore cozied up with chamois giant Cy-Tech's Elastic Interface division, which has developed a line of multi-density foam inserts for different body types and ride demands. The Element Tights have the women's two hour insert, making it just right for cold-weather rides meant to maintain form through fall and winter or start rebuilding a base in spring.
The zippered rear pocket is a delightful rarity in cycling tights. The ankles feature zippers for easy on, easy off, and the flatlock seams and adjustable waist band ensure fit and comfort. Reflective highlights help keep you visible in the low-light conditions that you'll eventually encounter while using these tights.
The Gore Bike Wear Element Windstopper Soft Shell Tights - Women's are available in six sizes ranging from X-Small to XX-Large in the colors Black and Black/neon yellow.
- Q & A
Warm for cold weather and windproof
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
- Fit: Runs small
- Size Bought: Extra Large
These winter cycling tights have a nice foam chamois that I think would be good for about 20 mile rides. I sized up one size and the XL works perfectly. They have a drawstring at the waist which works great. They are WARM and that is the most important thing for me. I rode with them in high 30's and I was not cold. Highly recommend.