If you are a cyclist, there is a good chance you have heard of Pearl Izumi.
Pearl Izumi is a leader in the US cycling apparel industry. They are known for making high quality, long-lasting cycling apparel and gear. Honestly, it was the first cycling apparel company I was ever really even aware of. Pearl Izumi products are a staple in US bike shops nationwide.
I remember when I wanted to get my first pair of cycling bibs I asked my husband, Chris, who had been cycling for some time, which brand to look at. He suggested Pearl Izumi, and said that he enjoyed every pair of Pearl Izumi bibs he has owned.
Now, I knew that what works for guys might not necessarily work for me, but I definitely trust his judgement and ordered a pair.
This was 3 YEARS AGO, and these suckers have held up. I am telling you, they are like the day I bought them, and I couldn’t possibly recommend Pearl Izumi bib shorts more. I have since purchased more pairs, and have had amazing results with all of my Pearl Izumi bibs.
So what, specifically, is it that makes these bib shorts so amazing? In a nutshell they are flattering, comfortable, and durable.
Intrigued? Keep scrolling for my in-depth review of Pearl Izumi Bib Shorts.
Review in a Nutshell
- Material is high quality, durable, and comfortable.
- True to size and come in a nice range of sizes (x-small to xx-large).
- Very few seams/places for irritation.
- Virtually no leg cuff, but legs stay solidly in place.
- Chamois is substantial for long rides.
- Crossover straps in the back offer a drop tail for nature breaks.
- Pearl Izumi has committed to making 90% of their line sustainable by 2022.
- Pearl Izumi is a major, world-wide cycling company that originated in Japan more than 50 years ago, and has been distributing in the US since 1981.
- The chamois is substantial and may be too much for some…it does feel more like a “diaper” than some other chamois I have tried.
- Currently is only available in limited colors, so those who like a “flashier” kit may be disappointed.
- Though you certainly can drop the back of these bibs for nature breaks, I find it to be a bit of a struggle.
- Clocking in at $200 plus, the PRO bib short is on the pricey side, though Pearl Izumi does carry less expensive bib-shorts that are also of great quality depending on your needs.
Why You Should Try Bibs
In the age-old debate amongst female cyclists regarding which is better, cycling shorts or bib shorts, I have found that the vast majority of road cyclists I have encountered prefer bib shorts.
Bibs are, in a word, great. There is no waistband to roll down, everything is smooth and seamless, and they look awesome under cycling jerseys.
Bib shorts have shoulder straps to hold them up so that you don’t have to deal with the waistband of a short. It simply doesn’t exist! The level of comfort, truly, can be second to none when you find the right pair of bib shorts.
I don’t think I have to tell you, though, that bibs for women have their own set of challenges because we are simply built differently, and therefore the perfect bib short must be built differently too!
The straps need to either go alongside our chest, or they need to kind of meet/clip in the middle, for one. Oh and HIPS! We have HIPS!!!
There’s nothing worse than trying to pull on a pair of bibs that seem to completely forget that we ladies are curvy, not straight. As a result, finding the right bib shorts can be a struggle for women.
Enter Pearl Izumi Bib Shorts.
Pearl Izumi Bib Shorts are Comfortable, Stay in Place, And Are True To Size
Time and time again I find myself reaching for these bib shorts. They are comfortable, and they stay in place.
The straps have a convenient, optional clip so that you can clip them together in the middle of your chest if, like me, you don’t find it terribly comfortable to have your straps on either side. Alternatively if you like the straps on the sides you can just leave them unclipped.
The fabric is very soft, and there are very few seams. These are not compression shorts, and they do not squeeze.
There is no cuff around the leg which I love, because it prevents my legs from feeling like sausages and putting unwanted pressure on my knees. There is a grippy material inside the bottom of the leg to keep it in place, and it actually works!
Finally, Pearl Izumi Bibs tend to be true to size, and tend to be consistent across their different designs. This is extremely helpful when you are purchasing bib shorts online and can’t try them on.
Pearl Izumi Bib Shorts Are VERY Durable
I have put these shorts to the TEST. The first pair I bought was three years ago, and I wear them all of the time because they are my favorite pair. I can honestly say that I have easily worn these bibs 100+ times, and they are honestly like the day that I bought them.
My other pairs of Pearl Izumi bibs, though I admittedly use them less because these are my favorites, have held up just as well.
The seams are all still intact, the color has not faded, and there are zero holes or rips in these shorts despite the fact that I have fallen in them quite a bit. The chamois has held up too, and I find that they protect my sit bones just like they did when they were new!
Also, it should be noted that I was wearing these shorts when I suffered my worst fall in cycling. I fell hard on one side, and my leg was VERY bruised underneath these shorts. I was absolutely shocked that a) the shorts didn’t rip or tear or show any sign of wear and that b) my road rash where I fell wasn’t far worse.
There is a Drop Tail Feature for Nature Breaks….
…but I am telling you it is a stretch to say this, and I mean that literally! Yes, you can technically keep your jersey on, and the criss-cross design of the back of these shorts means that you can stretch them down enough…but it’s not easy.
I was honestly a little afraid I wouldn’t even quite be able to clear the bib shorts. That would have been embarrassing.
Now, maybe I was doing it wrong, I am not totally ruling our user error here, but I have used other bib shorts with a drop tail design and haven’t exactly had this problem.
So yes, it is possible…but definitely proceed with caution and give ‘em a good stretch!
The Chamois of the Pearl Izumi Bib Short is Thick
Now, depending on your preference, you may see this as a pro or a con. Sometimes if a chamois is too thick, or is not placed properly, it can honestly feel more like a diaper than a short.
I will say that the chamois in this short does feel a bit droopy when I am walking around, and for that reason it’s not my favorite for shorter rides around the neighborhood. I also wouldn’t necessarily wear these for a ride where I will potentially be off the bike for a bit, getting ice cream/stopping for breakfast. These aren’t the best for that.
But, if you are planning to ride a distance you cannot go wrong with this short. When you are spending most of your time in the saddle and want to be able to actually walk after your ride? These will be your go-to bib shorts.
Like Many Bib Shorts, and Most Cycling Gear in General, You Get What You Pay For
I own multiple pairs of Pearl Izumi Bib Shorts, and my favorites were the highest end shorts they had at the time, and therefore were also the most expensive. All three pairs that I own are solid, have great chamois, and are very comfortable, but you can just tell these are truly the top of the line, and are constructed with the best materials, and have the best design.
As a result, unless you get these on sale or clearance, you will likely be paying around $200. They have other shorts (like the Pearl Izumi Attack Air bib) that are definitely cheaper, but there is a reason why I keep coming back to these.
Pearl Izumi is a long-time trusted staple in the cycling industry, and for good reason. It is clear that a lot of research and development has gone into developing a solid cycling short for women, and they certainly had women in mind when they created these shorts.
Though some larger cycling companies may make women’s apparel as an afterthought, and just make smaller men’s items and call them women’s, it is clear that Pearl Izumi does not do this. Honestly, with all of the wonderful women’s cycling brands out there now like Machines For Freedom and Terry, they really cannot afford to.
If you are looking for a solid bib-short that will be comfortable, durable, and go the distance with a substantial chamois, you really can’t go wrong with a pair of Pearl Izumi Bib Shorts.
More Help Keeping Your Bottom Comfy
- 9 Best Women’s Bike Shorts
- 7 Best Chamois Creams for Women
- How to Heal (and Prevent) Saddle Sores
- 7 Best Women’s Road Bike Saddles
About The Reviewer
Stacy Ann Smith is a New England-based cyclist who strives to stay upright on her bike. She is the founder of Sascy Cycling, and her mission is to encourage women to love their body and focus on what it can do, not what it looks like. When Stacy’s not cycling she is teaching high school history and eating pizza with her husband and son. For awesome women’s cycling tips and to learn more about Stacy, visit Sascy Cycling at www.sascy.com or find her on Instagram and Facebook.