Tried, tested and refined, Cuore’s Gold X1 gripper-less bibs embody the idea being that with the right fabric and cut, there is no need for the grabby silicon at the bottom of the leg. Cyclist slides into a pair.
Words and photography: Colin Levitch
There are bibs out there that don’t utilise a silicone gripper, instead using a band of fabric with stronger elastic at the bottom of the leg like MAAP’s Team bibs or a few options from Louis Garneau. The Gold X1 goes in another direction and instead offers a simple laser cut edge.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Cuore clothing over the past couple of years, mostly the Silver level kit and have been thoroughly impressed by the quality, durability and comfort across both bib shorts and jersey. At first glance, I wasn’t confident that getting rid of the leg gripper would make all that big a difference – man was I wrong.
I could have spoken to Team Cyclist – who took on The Pioneer using custom X1 bibs – but I need to find out for myself. Like your favourite pair of shoes or best-fitting helmet, cycling kit is filled with enough detail and intricacies that feeling it for yourself is the only way to truly know.
The first time I slipped into the X1 bibs I was shocked, first and foremost because the bottom of the leg didn’t grab just above my knee as just about every other pair of bibs has done in the past. The X1 bibs, on the other hand, slipped on like your favourite pair of boardies without any concern for catching or stretching during the pull-on process.
Cinderella’s 1988 power ballad ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ certainly rings true with the X1, the absence of the silicone gripper only truly apparent when it’s no longer grabbing at your thigh. Wearing the X1 bibs feels more akin to recovery tights than bib shorts and in our opinion, that’s a good thing. Better still, Cuore understand we’re all built differently and so there’s a specific women’s X1 bib also available.
The fabric has a textured feel to it when put side by side with Cuore’s Silver bibs – along with a few others in my drawer from Santini and Attaquer but I wanted to know exactly what it was I was feeling. We asked Yannick Eckmann from Cuore’s design team about the material and he explained they worked with their fabric mill to design a new textile.
“It is unique to Cuore, and our goal was to provide a construction that optimised fit, function and made the optimal feel on the bike. The fabric supports itself and stays put on the leg because the knit uses the right blend of stretch, compression and recovery unlike lesser materials,” says Yannick.
“The result of this new leg construction is the perfect fit that stays in position on the leg due to combining the right blend of recovery when stretched, strong enough compression that contours to your exact leg and a fabric that has a non-roll edge at the leg end to prevent rolling up,” Eckmann continues.
While this may sound like marketing speak, in this case Cuore has nailed the execution. The fabric offers comfortable compression, is comfortable against the skin and doesn’t move around on your leg. Properly fitting kit not only feels good but it’s faster too.
Eurosport commentator and former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Bäckstedt is a man who’s been around for longer than most and if you’ve ever seen a rider with an unzipped jersey in the breakaway, guaranteed Maggie will mention just how much extra energy they are burning through additional wind resistance.
Beyond the fabric, the cut itself can make or break a pair of shorts and is critical when there are no grippers to hold things in place. According to Yannick, Cuore spent two years trying to get it right with its testing pool including those ultra-fit WorldTour pros through to weekend warriors like us.
Between the fit of the lycra and the cut of the shorts, there is no wrinkling or bunching and the fabric holds its place just as well, if not better than as any pair of bibs I’ve worn that do utilise a gripper.
The shoulder straps are also made from lycra, while a slightly lighter weight material is used compared to the rest of the bibs. They are plenty stretchy and lay flat which might sound like a given but you’d be surprised how many fail to get this part right. Being that they’re also not made of mesh, there is less potential for skin irritation and Cuore has also eliminated the mesh panel over the back – which breathes well and allows plenty of heat to escape.
Under the hood
The Gold X1 bibs are only available with the in-house designed and built Embody MS2 chamois which is found in many of the bibs within Cuore’s range. For me, it’s a comfortable choice for long days in the saddle and supports the sits bones well. It’s quite a lightweight and flexible pad so it’s a good option for activities beyond the road. I wouldn’t have any hesitation using them across CX/gravel, hike-a-bike and MTB rides.
I’ve only had the Gold X1 bibs for a relatively short testing period but they aren’t showing any signs of wear. Based off the other Cuore gear in my drawer, I’m confident it’ll remain in the rotation for quite some time.
Cuore prides itself on the customisation it offers, and the X1 bibs can be fully sublimated, meaning every panel on the shorts can be dyed just about any colour. They also provide custom tailoring and allow the leg length to be customised too for a small cost. Our Cyclist duo tailored their kit specifically for their Pioneer campaign – for that perfect fit.
The only real sticking point I have with the Gold X1 bibs if you’re going down the custom line – like those worn by Team Cyclist at The Pioneer – is the cost, coming in at $375 for a one-pair purchase. Keep in mind however, this is for complete custom whereas the standard black pair I tested come in at $275 – quite a reduction but understandable given it’s an off-the-shelf item.
It’s worth remembering that the more you buy through the custom program, the lower the cost. Think your next custom kit for that European summer trip or even the next round of apparel for your local club – the price reduces dramatically with you and four mates picking up a pair for $250-odd if you go in together on the same design. Don’t get me wrong, the X1 are fantastic and they stand up against any other top-end offering however, premium products always come at a cost. At this price there are plenty of brand options to consider but if you’re looking for that next pair of ‘faves’, the X1 is absolutely worth putting on the list.
Dreaming of a kit made to measure but lack the creative mind for design? We feel your pain but don’t fret, the team at Cuore Australia are the masters at turning a concept into a design you’ll love for years to come.
Design your own
Head across to Cuore Australia for a look into the kit we designed for our most recent voyage through the NZ Alps and chat to the team about how they can bring your ideas to life… through the power of lycra.