Borrowing from a previous passage, it seems like every year I find myself in some round-table discussion amongst colleagues, debating the merits of so-called game-changing equipment in cycling. Not surprisingly, there’s widespread agreement that integrated shifting, clipless pedals, advancements in frame materials and perhaps even compact/sloping geometry, were all vanguards. But, from there, the conversation gets murky, with each of us positing what we feel are worthy inclusions to the list.
For me, the evolution of cycling apparel in the last decade or so has proven to be one of the most important paths toward achieving rider comfort and performance. Interestingly though, cycling apparel seems to have progressed at a much slower rate than bikes and components. Perhaps, it’s simply been a case of textiles progressing at a slower rate than other materials, or there’s been this prevailing belief in the industry that the bike reins supreme?
In either case, it’s been a long journey from my collegiate days of racing to the present, reflecting back on a jersey that felt like burlap against my skin and a chamois pad that provided less comfort than a blown-out crepe. Maybe there is some truth to the folklore that riders back in the Golden Age of cycling really did line their shorts with flanks of beef in order to better protect their nether regions? Anyway, back to the future.
The GORE name (now GOREWEAR as it relates to cycling) needs no introduction, as the company has been at the forefront of textile technology for decades, turning out performance fabrics that have become the foundation for sports apparel across virtually every discipline. In the case of cycling, GOREWEAR’s roots in the professional peloton can be traced all the way back the the mid-80’s, especially for its GORE-TEX waterproof jackets, a must-have garment for any rider hoping to thwart the elements. In fact, somewhere in the far-reaches of my basement, exists my 1980’s GORE-TEX rain jacket. Tough likely covered in debris at this point, I bet it’s probably still up for the task of shielding the wet.
In any case, while GORE-TEX continues to be the textile of choice for many brands to develop their products with, the GOREWEAR label has separately gone on to expand its own range of high-end cycling apparel to include jerseys, jackets, shorts, gloves, socks, headwear and other specialty garments. So, when the opportunity arose to review some of their latest togs, I was eager to evaluate the new Distance jersey and Distance 2.0 bibshorts.
The Distance Jersey
The Distance represents GOREWEAR’s flagship jersey, which features an ergonomically shaped neckline that’s designed to reduce pressure points, along with raw-cut sleeves that are aimed at ensuring an adaptive, comfortable fit and three gusseted rear pockets that include an additional zipper compartment.
Elsewhere, the jersey is punctuated by a full-length zipper and a rear silicone lining along the hem to help keep it from riding up, while a three-panel construction ensures optimal body-mapping. The jersey’s logos are also treated to reflective material in order to enhance visibility.
The Distance 2.0 Bibshorts
Like the jersey, the Distance 2.0 bibshort is GOREWEAR’s top-tier set of bottoms, comprising a similar three-panel construction with raw-cut legs and mesh, X-back style braces that provide what GOREWEAR describes as being “central to proper torso architecture”, while comfort comes courtesy of a multi-density, multi-layered foam chamois pad that features a male-specific channel aimed at reducing pressure in key places. Plus, GOREWEAR also added a “breathable cup” at the front of the pad in order to protect sensitive areas from wind chill.
However, what’s perhaps the most stand-out feature of both the bibshorts and jersey, is the material, which possesses a softer, smoother feel than any other “kit” that I’ve experienced. Moreover, it has slightly more hefty to it, yet at the same time feels light and airy as well.
Needless to say, the material is a tricky one to describe, so I decided to let the riding do the talking.
Firstly, I would describe the fit of the jersey and bibshorts as being a bit on the generous side, offering a tad more of room when compared to the typical “race-cut” European apparel that I’m accustom to. For example, I usually slot nicely into a size medium in most European brands. However, in this case, I probably could have dropped down to a size small in order to achieve better body contour, while at the same time not violating any obscenity laws. That said, I would recommend going one size down with the Distance jersey and bibshort.
Despite the material having more heft, out on the road the kit felt extremely comfortable against my skin, conceding nothing in the way of comfort and breathability. In fact, the more weighty material seemed to make the kit all the more unflappable, keeping things structured and composed even when swamped in perspiration.
Additionally, I especially liked the ventilated, X-back style braces, which both positioned and anchored the bibshorts extremely well across my chest and shoulders. Why some brands still resort to using spaghetti straps is beyond me?
In sum, the Distance jersey and Distance 2.0 bibshorts make for an exceptional duo, offering a level of performance that puts the garments on par with the very best that I’ve ridden in, especially given their reasonable price points of $150 and $200, respectively. Moreover, if you’re someone who isn’t into flash, but rather prefers a more subdued look, GORE offers the pieces in a number of understated colors that in my opinion impart pure elegance.
Oh, and there are women’s specific versions available as well.
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