Gore Bike Wear Alp-X shorts

by
April 18, 2015

Spendy shorts for all-round riding - do they cut the mustard?

Brand: Gore BIke Wear
Product: Alp-X shorts
From: Gore BIke Wear, goreapparel.co.uk
Price: £109.99
Tested: by Dave for for three months

    Gore’s Alp-X shorts aren’t the cheapest, at just over one hundred quid, especially as they don’t come with an inner padded short; all you get here is the nylon outer short. If you want a full package, you’ll be splashing out another £30 for the Alp-X+ version also on offer. Given that there’s some decent and cheaper options from competitors out there, just what is it that the Alp-X short brings to the table to justify the outlay?

Gore markets the Alp-X short as suitable for “multiday tours in the mountains” so it came as a surprise that on first feel the fabric of the shorts is lightweight, almost flimsy, and you’re left wondering if they’ll be up to the job of repelling that beautiful UK mix of rear wheel water spray carrying a cocktail of gritty abrasive mud and stone that can destroy a pair of lesser shorts in no time. For a short that’s destined to be ridden in the mountains, and through a UK wet winter, spring or – let’s face it – any season really, I like something that’s substantial enough to last and offer a bit of resistance to the inevitable wet arse.

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But first impressions can be misleading and it’s fair to say that the Alp-X short manages to squeeze in some pretty nifty design features that lend themselves to year-round riding. First up, despite being lightweight, the nylon fabric is surprisingly robust, with a small amount of stretch that works well when pedalling. There’s an inherent feeling of snag resistance that has so far been borne out during the test period, especially when snagged on trailside shrubbery and trees where despite the outcome looking like it’d result in a rip, the shorts came through the encounter unscathed.

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The rear of the short and inner leg panels are constructed from a contrasting black fabric, which has proved spray resistant and so far shrugged off any suggestion of wear. The cut of the shorts fits well with its intended mountain use. The long legs easily accommodate knee pads without too much flapping when worn without protection and the cut of the short is quite long in comparison to some others out there – I quite like a bit of coverage, so had no issues with this.

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In use the Alp-X are held up snugly and securely thanks to a combination of zipper fly and two poppers on the waistband. Sizing seems pretty average too, though it’s probably worth trying before buying due to the lack of adjustment. The shorts have an elasticated waist but no adjusters to cinch in to tweak fit, though there are belt loops if you wear a belt when riding.

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In hot temperatures (remember those?) I’ve found these shorts really shine, thanks to an impressive set of features to manage air flow. Central to this are the two large zipped and meshed vents, one on each leg. When opened, and combined with the two mesh hand pockets, these channel a decent breeze through the shorts and add a considerable amount of venting and air cooling to keep everything comfortable on long rides on warm days. I’ve yet to find another short that comes close to them in terms of comfort and if I’m heading to anywhere hot, be it central Europe or out to somewhere in the desert, then these are the shorts I reach for first.

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So returning to that initial question when weighing up the Alp-X: what does your money buy you? Well, you’re getting a short that’ll perform well in typical UK conditions. It’ll shrug off most moisture that your rear tyre conspires to throw at you, it’s fairly tough despite its outward impressions of lightweight flimsiness, it’ll easily manage to keep you cool on the hottest of days no matter where in the world you find yourself and it’ll manage to look pretty good while it does all this, too. Whether that all adds up to value for money in your eyes I’ll leave up to you, but I’ll be packing mine wherever I head to this year.

Not the cheapest but a great short for summer conditions. Thanks to its spray resistant rear it will cope with conditions into and out of winter too.

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