GoreTex is now a term used like Kleenex and Xerox, and is seen on all major brands. Outerwear of all types uses Gore’s technology to keep people warm and dry. What some cyclists may not know is that they also produce a very focused and well designed line of riding gear known as Gore Bike Wear. With Gore’s emphasis on weather repellent clothing it may be surprising to know that they don’t just make rain jackets and booties, they also have top-level bib shorts and jerseys. But with the weather turning cold in Colorado, it was the perfect time to test out their Mistral gloves and Race Power Overshoes. Read on to find out more about these products from Gore Bike Wear.
Gloves and booties are key components for any rider that is forced to either ride in the cold or face another trainer session. A good pair of gloves and overshoes make the difference between riding in relative comfort and having your fingers turn ice cold. Much like skiing, cycling comfortably is all about keeping your hands and feet warm, once they go cold it’s game over. My strategy for riding in the cold starts with keeping out the wind. In Colorado we often get days where the temperature isn’t too bad but the wind chill is brutal. My strategy has always started with keeping the wind out.
The Mistral uses Gore’s patented WindStopper Soft Shell technology, similar to what is in their jackets. Positioned as a do-it-all light-weight and wind-proof glove, it also offers a little insulation. Rather than a Velcro closure, a simple long cuff with elastic at the wrist comes over your jersey or arm warmers to keep the wind from sneaking in. Very specific padding in the palm and fingers along with reinforced stitching in the thumb to forefinger junction is a nice detail.
I used them without any liner as the fit was snug and a liner would not fit. The benefit was that the fit allowed for good dexterity and didn’t feel like a ski glove. This glove was put to the test riding on the road, and while training and racing my cross bike on cold days, thirty to forty degrees along with colder winds.
The Mistral does what it promises, keeping out the wind and keeping the warmth in. On downhills were my speed crept up I didn’t feel any wind penetrating the WindStopper shell. While racing cross on frozen turf and bitter cold, where frozen hands can have big consequences, my hands stayed warm all race long. There were times when I wish there was a slight bit more insulation in the glove. Starting out on a cold ride my hands take some time to get warm, and the Mistral is more of a shell than an insulator. As stated above, I did not use a liner due the fit of the glove. I probably could have sized up, which would have allowed me to use a thin liner, but then I would have lost the great fit when I didn’t use a liner.
What I was surprised with was how much flexibility the glove had. This is due to the padding being in the heel and under the knuckles and not going all the way up the fingers. The tips of the fore and middle finger have a silicone diamond pattern, giving a textured feel and providing extra grip on the shifting paddles. That little extra feeling makes a big difference while racing hard and needing full control of the bike. The outside of the fingertips are also reinforced.
My biggest complaint would be the lack of a soft fleece pad on the outside of the glove to be used as a snot wiper. Cold weather riding means a lot of nose wiping and a rough surface can lead to irritation. While I wouldn’t call the Mistral’s surface rough, it’s not soft either. I would love to see a small patch of fleece or some other soft fabric to add a level of comfort.
The Mistral performs well in many areas, keeping out the wind without any bulk. Attention to details like specifically placed padding and reinforced materials along with the extended cuff show it’s not a snow glove that Gore just put some padding on and called a cycling glove. The only missing detail was a snot wipe pad. While a bit more insulation would have been nice at times, the trade off in fit was worth being cold to start. It’s versatility and functionality make it a great to piece for many occasions.
I also tested out Gore’s Race Power overshoe. This is a simple shell designed to keep feet dry and warm. Overshoes are not exciting, but poor ones can cut your ride short.
The Race Power is made of GoreTex Performance Shell and GoreTex stretch inserts for a close fit. Also enhancing the fit is the right and left shoe specific cut. Many overshoes are cumbersome to slide over your shoes, especially if your shoes have buckles. Gore solves this by using a full-length strip of heavy-duty Velcro from the top to the heel. The rear opens completely making it incredibly easy to put these on. Pull the Velcro apart, slide it over your shoe lining up the holes with your cleats then Velcro it shut and you’re off.
Again, I used these on the road and trail and while warming up on the cross course. The shell does it’s job, keeping wind and water off your feet. Aiding the material itself are the taped seems, another layer of protection from wet conditions. Even riding along frozen grass during ‘cross warm up I didn’t feel the cold coming through the bottom. On longer road rides I appreciated the Race Power’s protection and was able to feel my feet the entire ride. The holes for cleats and your heel are large enough to accommodate road and mountain cleats, but not so big that water comes in from underneath. This area is surrounded by durable wear resistant material to prolong the life of the product. The neoprene stretch panel at the top keeps it flexible so it doesn’t irritate your leg.
I really liked the ease of use in getting these on and off. Warming up for my ‘cross race I put these on for warm-ups and lining up on the start, then with a simple pull of the Velcro they were off.
Overshoes are that product that you only think about when they don’t work. The Race Power from Gore is a great application of their technological fabric knowledge. Find out more about the Race Power Overshoe, Mistral Gloves and other Gore products at www.gorebikewear.com