Gore is the most famous apparel brand that people don’t think they’ve heard of. Gore? No. You’ve heard of Gore-Tex? Everyone’s heard of Gore-Tex. OK, so Gore is the bike stuff. Gore-Tex is the fabric your jacket is made from, and the bits around the end of you guitar strings, and your granddad’s aortic stent… and your space suit.
Gore-Tex is ubiquitous. It’s even in kit that bears the logo of other, more famous, cycling brands. But with a little help from Fabian Cancellara, things are changing. You’ve heard of him, though, right?
Enlisting Cancellara has been a huge step for Gore. He’s become part of the team. His feedback is imperative to the way the brand's garments are now being produced. Over a career that has been as long, and as successful as his, he’s amassed a few ideas about what a rider needs. And what they don’t.
The Gore C7 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket has been a while in the making. It’s origins stem as far back to 1985 and the brands first foray in pro cycling when team Superconfex (which later became Rabobank) wore its Giro jacket at the Tour de France. This jacket was way ahead of its time. Roll the clock forward 30 years and the latest version is still pushing boundaries.
The jacket is breathable, aerodynamic, packs into something the size of a cigarette packet and it’s waterproof. Not to be confused with water resistant for a bit and then starts leaking like a wet tea bag. Usually it’s a case of picking a couple of these desirables and then sacrificing the rest.
How’ve they done this? Well, Cancellara has helped with the fit, which we’re aware was a strain on office relations (he’s unsurprisingly demanding). The rest was down to the experts.
If you've never googled Gore-Tex, or ePTFE, it's worth a trip down the rabbit-hole. The material, full name being expanded polytetrafluoroethylene, was discovered by Richard Gore himself half by mistake. He pulled on a heated rod of PTFE, and to his great surprise an altogether new material stretched out in front of him.
The miraculous part of ePTFE is that each of its material pores are around twenty thousand times smaller than a water droplet. That means water is strictly locked out, but air and water vapour can travel freely through a Gore-Tex membrane.
While Gore-Tex has been around since 1969, this jacket was the first use of it in cycling in a very specific way. The shell of a Gore cycling jacket typically has three layers consisting of an outer layer, the Gore-Tex ePTFE membrane in the middle and then the lining that’s next to the skin. This jacket only has two layers, the ePTFE membrane and the lining.
The appeal of removing the outer-face layer is an obvious one – it has turned a once-bulky jacket into something you can squeeze into half of a back-pocket. That makes the Shakedry not only one of the most technically advanced jackets out there, but also one of the most practical all year-round, and the reason we've seen the same tech being licensed by other brands.
The greatest challenge for Gore was to produce the Shakedry fabric tough enough to actually wear and not tear like wet tissue paper.
We’re assured it wasn’t easy, but neither was appeasing Fabian Cancellara.