If you are curious about performance bib shorts, the Pearl Izumi Women’s Attack Air bib short is a good place to start. This medium priced bib short comes in at $160 (often less on sale), and offers the opportunity to see if bib shorts are a good fit for you without shelling our for a high-end short, nor skimping on a “budget short.”
While these shorts may not offer the high compression of the most expensive bibs, both the fabric and chamois are truly comfortable. In fact, on the bike, I didn’t notice much of a difference at all between these bibs and the many more expensive pairs sitting in my closet.
Read on to learn more.
Review In A Nutshell
- Good bang for your buck
- Chamois is comfortable even on the longest rides
- Droptail for potty breaks
- Comfortable, breathable fabric
- Comes in generic sizes (XS-XXL) rather than pant sizes
- Seams may rub
- Chamois – 8/10
- Compression – 7/10
- Quality/durability – 7/10
- Pee factor – 8/10
- Sizing/fit – 8/10
- Comfort – 8/10
- Leg grippers – 9/10
- Straps – 8/10
- Style – 8/10
- Value – 8/10
Price & Where To Buy:
First Things First: The Chamois!
For a mid-range bib, the chamois is surprisingly good! It is on the thicker side, so if prefer a minimalistic chamois, these might not be for you.
But if you like a fair bit of padding, and want to be on the bike for a while, you’re likely to enjoy this chamois. I found it super comfortable, and wore it on several long rides (50+ miles).
If you’re considering doing your first century ride, these would be a good pair of bibs to use.
One thing to note is that the stitching on the chamois is ok, but not of the highest quality. Compare it to the stitching on the Wild Rye Baddie bibs in the photos below.
Drop Tail For Easier Bathroom Breaks
The biggest fear I hear from women about bibs is “how do I go to the bathroom?!” The answer is a droptail!
A droptail allows you to pull down the back of the shorts without taking off the straps. The Pearl Izumi Women’s Attack Air bibs feature a droptail that works reasonably well.
Personally, I did struggle with the droptail a bit. I have a longer torso and found I had to REALLY tug on the bottom to get it down far enough. I gave the bibs to a girlfriend to test out (she’s shorter), and she had zero problem pulling down the back.
This isn’t an isolated experience for me; I often have trouble with droptail designs. For me, I prefer straps that easily unclip or that use a halter design. That said, if you don’t have a super long torso, I think this design works just fine.
Fabric Is Not As Compressive As More Expensive Bibs
Where can you tell that the Attack Air bibs is a mid-range rather than a high-end bib? In the compression.
The fabric does provide what I’d consider a medium amount of compression, but it’s certainly not as much as a higher end bib.
That said, many women who are newer to bibs don’t like extremely compressive fabric anyway. The medium compression on these is great for many ladies who want to try a bit of compression, but aren’t ready for a more intense bib.
Fabric Is Soft And Breathable
Although the fabric isn’t as thick as some, it is breathable. The Pearl Izumi Attack Air is intended to be a short for hotter days, and it does perform in that regard.
Additionally, the fabric is soft and smooth to the touch. It’s not quite as buttery as the more expensive Pearl Izumi Pro bibs, for instance, but is a step up from a budget bib like the Specialized RBX Bibs.
Unique “No Band” Leg Band
In many cheaper bike shorts, we often see elastic leg bands that cause the dreaded sausage leg effect. Not only does the Attack Air bib not have an elastic leg band, it almost has no leg band at all.
Despite this, I had zero problems with the leg riding up. It stays nicely in place due to a wide section of silicone grippers at the leg opening.
If you have a silicone allergy, this design won’t work, but I greatly appreciated the nice streamlined look.
Stitching And Tags May Affect Sensitive Skin
If you’re looking for a reviewer with sensitive skin, you’ve come to the right place. I have VERY sensitive skin.
The Attack Air bibs were mostly okay in this regard. The straps didn’t bother me, nor did most of the stitching.
That said, there was a seam that hit right at my hip and it did bother me a little bit. I had to put a bit of chamois cream in that spot.
Additionally, there are tags in the shorts that you will have to cut out. Not a big deal, but I always prefer shorts that come tag-less right off the bat.
You can also see that the stitching is not flat. Compare the seams to the flat ones on the Wild Rye Baddie bibs in the photos below.
Straps Are Comfortable
Even with a longer torso, I found the straps comfortable. They did NOT dig into my shoulder or rub.
There is a clip in the front to keep the straps in place, and I had no issue with it. The straps do come right over the chest. As a flat chested woman, this worked fine for me, but ladies with larger boobs may prefer a different design.
I like that the straps are solid and not mesh. I’ve had too many pairs of otherwise great bibs end up with the mesh disintegrating over time.
Finally, the back works well. The slightly cheaper Attack bibs have criss-crossed straps that get twisted. These did not.
Sizing Is True To Size
While I much prefer when shorts come in pant sizes (2, 4, 6, etc), I was able to find a good fit in the Pearl Izumi Attack Air bibs even with their generic sizing. They come in sizes XS to XXL.
I’m a 6 or 8 in street clothes, and was a size medium in these bibs. They fit like a glove.
Do keep in mind that bibs are meant to be a bit compressive. Follow the size chart, and recognize that they may feel a bit tight when you first try them on. This does not necessarily mean that they are too small.
Come In Black As Well As A Pretty Floral Pattern
I can’t give the black shorts I tested any huge style points. That said, the Attack Air bibs also come in a pretty floral version.
I do wish that there were even more colors or prints, but one stylish option is better than none.
Pearl Izumi Women’s Attack Air Bibs Vs The Competition
One of the closest competitors to the Attack Air Bibs are the Specailized SL Race bibs. They are both positioned as an introduction to performance cycling wear.
Both are very similar quality in terms of chamois, compression, and construction. In terms of price, the Pearl Izumi bibs come in slightly cheaper($160 rather than $180).
Both work well for potty breaks, and this will really depend on your preference. The Pearl Izumi bibs have a droptail, while the Specialized bibs have a magnetic clip that allows the straps to drop.
Strap placement may be another consideration. The Pearl Izumi bibs go across the center of the chest, while the Specialized straps are to the side of the chest.
How We Tested And Scored These Bibs
I tested the bibs by going about my normal business: riding my bike! I used them on quite a few 15-20 miles lunchtime rides, as well as a handful of longer weekend rides (50 miles plus).
We scored the shorts in 10 categories: chamois, compression, quality/durability, pee factor, sizing/fit, comfort, leg grippers, straps, style, and value. The Pearl Izumi Attack bibs came out with a 7 or 8 out of 10 in most categories. This is what we would expect from a mid-price bib.
Where they scored higher was on leg grippers (9/10). These are some of the better leg grippers we’ve tested, even across more expensive shorts.
Bottom-Line: A Great Introduction To Performance Bibs
The Pearl Izumi Women’s Attack Air bib short emerges as a noteworthy option for those exploring the world of bib shorts without diving deep into their pockets. Priced reasonably, it bridges the gap between high-end and budget shorts.
Its chamois ensures comfort on even the longest rides, and it’s no leg band design is better than many I’ve tested on even more expensive bibs. For riders seeking good value for their money and a foray into performance bib shorts, the Pearl Izumi Women’s Attack Air bib short is a solid pick.
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Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.
An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.
Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life. Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son. If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.
Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.