2010 Gore Bike Wear Countdown Shorts
Bells and whistles. We love 'em. Don’t think we ever pass up the opportunity to "pull the horn" when we see a slow passing train or big rig. But on our clothing, we'd gladly pass on the proverbial bells and whistles for sheer function. We think that the performance of a mountain bike short is more important. Gore Bike Wear must think along similar lines, as they nailed it when they designed the Countdown shorts. The Gore Countdown shorts are designed for cyclists seeking comfort, fit, and performance. Offered in black or grey/black, and in sizes ranging from small to double extra large, they lack flash, but that might be a good thing. We found them to be loose, casual, and cool nonetheless.
The lightweight outer shell features two shallow hip pockets. They aren't a typical slash-top pocket like you'd find on your jeans. Instead, the top opening is cut flatter across the front of the hip to keep your precious items in your pocket through rough terrain and in/out of the saddle riding. They also have two deeper pockets with a velcro closure on the outside of the thigh, and a zippered rear pocket. We found ourselves appreciating the closures. The flaps on the thigh pockets are easy enough to flip open, even with gloved fingers. These pockets were perfect for maps or granola bars that we might want easy trailside access to. The rear pocket was a good place to stash denser items like keys or our phone, and its zipper guarantees security. All of the pockets are sewn from a polyester mesh. While they're super breathable and provide extra comfort during warm weather, they can get snagged on a gloved finger and turn inside out as you withdraw your hand.
The seams on the outer shorts are double stitched for durability. We never encountered any wear issues despite our efforts to destroy them with a few good crashes and plenty of miles ridden. There is a slick, silk-lined contact strip inside the end of the short to prevent chafing near your knee. We appreciated this detail as baggy shorts always slide up and down the leg with every pedal revolution. It's a given. Longer shorts like these can get caught on the knee depending on how you fit them, and how long your legs are. The chafe-free silk patch is a smart addition because it smoothed out the inevitable up and down travel of the cuff when we rode. There is a wide, partially elasticized waistband that has just enough stretch to provide plenty of support when you forgot your belt. There are six loops sewn in for those days in heavy conditions (think evil mud and rain) when you will need a belt. Reflective accents in the front of the short above the large leg pockets and small reflective piping on the side of the short further down on the leg allow you to be more visible to traffic.
A six panel short liner is included with a wide elastic waistband and comfy form fit chamois. The legs each have an elastic hem, which keep the shorts comfortably in place once you get them hitched up where you want them to be. The liner attaches to the outer shell with three small nylon loops with a small snap to keep them in place.
We wore the Countdown Shorts on the hottest and most stifling summer days Central Arkansas could muster last year. The shorts were breathable and comfortable. The outer shell occasionally rode up our legs making the shorts feel tight at the hips, but it was easily remedied by standing up occasionally during the ride to allow the short to drop down to its normal position. On one particularly sultry day, we rode deep into the woods to one of our all-time favorite swimming holes, King's River Falls. The outer shell and liner dried quickly after diving into the cool spring water.
The lycra liner was thin and lightweight, and its thick, elastic waistband was both functional and comfortable. One feature that could have used a little more design work was the liner attachments. They broke early during the review process and we were reminded of the shortfall each time we put on the shorts. It ended up being more of a disappointment in the design than a functional loss. As heartbroken as we were to have the liner snaps break, we'd give those away to keep the closure. It's a hook and eye style thing-a-ma-jig. Anyway, it looks like a button from the front, but it never comes undone when you're wrestling your bike through some technical section of trail or up some monster climb. We liked that. The outer shell and liner has held up to numerous "man washing" cycles through the laundry with no noticeable wear or fading.
Rugged and versatile were two words that came to mind every time we wore the Gore Bike Wear Countdown Short -- we loved the loose, comfortable fit. They allowed freedom of movement while riding and during pre- and post-ride activities. Besides our on-the-bike experience, we spent time on a slackline, climbing, trailrunnning, and working in them. They're generally just a great pair of shorts. The outer shell was adequately outfitted with enough pockets to store our goodies we needed on our rides. The shell was lightweight, comfortable, and durable. The inner short was thin and breathable so it didn't make the whole combo feel oppressive on super hot days, and the chamois was well-shaped and provided plenty of padding. We couldn't say it was remarkable in any way, but that's saying something too -- it was just fine. Overall, we were impressed with Gore Bike Wear 's attention to quality fabrics, fit, appearance, and value. The Countdown Shorts occupy a level near the top of the pile. For those who operate their laundry like we do, you'll know that that is an enviable position and they get reached for quite often.