Pearl Izumi has nailed all-weather protection with the Pro Pursuit bib tights thanks to well-thought-out fabric positioning and a water-repellent coating that won't wash away. They keep you warm, dry and comfortable no matter what the conditions. All this comes to a pricey package against some of the competition, though.
- Pros: PI Dry coating, form fit
- Cons: Pricey for a pair of tights without a pad
The winter of 2018 has certainly created some challenges for those riders who like to get out and carry on whatever the weather, and if that sounds like you, these Pro Pursuit tights are worth having in your arsenal.
For me the biggest highlight is the PI Dry water-repellent coating, which is added like a sleeve over the fibres before manufacture and means that unlike other waterproof treatments it won't wear off, no matter how much rain or washing the bib tights see in their lifetime.
Riding in the recent snow and the following wet roads from the melt, the Pearl Izumis were faultless when it came to keeping out the water. Even two-hour rides saw the material continue to just shrug things off, with road spray beading away from the fabric. I never got wet.
And it's not just waterproofing that the Pro Pursuits deal with: a cold northerly gale isn't going to bother your muscles either.
Pearl Izumi has incorporated the windproof panels to cover your rear end, your thighs and the knees at the front, with the back of the knees using a lighter fabric for unrestrictive movement.
The material has a slightly thicker feel than the rest of the Lycra panels and can feel a little restrictive when you first put them on, but that soon passes once you get on the bike and start moving.
With all this proofing going on you might be expecting the Pros to be lacking on the breathability front, but it really isn't an issue. The non-windproof panels feel noticeably cooler, which helps regulate your temperature.
Pearl Izumi gives a usable range of +/- 5°C which I think is a good shout and was the temperature I spent most of the time riding in. You could probably get away with going a couple of degrees lower depending on your tolerance to temperature.
This version of the tights comes without a chamois, which means they are designed to be worn over your padded shorts – which is great for commuters as you'll be able to wear the tights all week. To aid with this, the crotch area is much thinner so you don't get too much bulk and bunching here from the layering. They are available with a pad for an extra £20 if that is the route you'd prefer.
As you are also likely to be wearing two pairs of bib straps, Pearl Izumi has gone for a very thin material on the top half, with wide flat shoulder straps and no straps. You really don't notice them as they sit over the straps of your shorts, so that's a win.
When it comes to fit, the Pro Pursuits are pretty impressive, especially thanks to the legs being shaped/bent at the knees so when you are on the bike and pedalling there will be no bunching of excess material.
The fabric all feels comfortable against the skin, thanks to fleece backing on most of the panels.
A penny shy of £160 is quite expensive for a pair of bib tights, but the Pros are nowhere near the priciest we've tested. Assos anyone?
I really liked the Lusso Termico Repel bib tights when I tested them a couple of months ago. They have a great pad and some water-repellent treatment, all for just £95.
The Gore Power Thermo bib tights also impressed us recently for the majority of winter use. They do lack the waterproofing of the Pearl Izumis, though, for the £124.99 price tag.
Dave Arthur tested the Sportful Fiandre NoRain bib tights back in 2015 and they're now £95; he also tested the Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts more recently – if you prefer a shorter leg (non-Pro ones are £80, Light ones are £90).
In conclusion, I'd say the Pro Pursuits are a fair investment if you ride in really challenging and extreme conditions on a regular basis, and that PI Dry coating is truly great at keeping you dry – plus it'll last.
Well-cut performance bib tights that are awesone at fending off the worst of the weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Mens Pro Pursuit Bib Tights
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Pearl Izumi says, "For versatile protection in inclement weather, these tights use Softshell panels on the legs to protect key splash zones while on the back Thermal fabric with water shedding PI Dry™ technology offers ventilation, breathability and weather protection.?Contoured anatomic fit maximizes muscle support, and the laser cut bib makes it easy to layer over your favorite shorts."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Pearl Izumi:
P.R.O. level 3-layer Softshell Panels for wind and water protection in key areas
Lighter weight Softshell on lower legs for splash protection
Thermal fabric with water shedding PI Dry™ technology used on back of legs and bib upper
Non zippered, elasticized cuffs for comfort under shoe covers
Minimal raw edge straps on bib upper for layering comfort
BioViz™ reflective elements for low light visibility
Weather forecast: Cold and windy
Temperature range: -/+ 5 degrees
Fabrics: P.R.O. Softshell - 39% nylon 34% polyester 21% LYCRA® 6% polyurethane. Thermal Panels - 56% nylon?30% polyester?14% LYCRA®. Lower Legs - 100% polyester.
PI Dry water-repellent coating won't wear off like a DWR treatment.
I found the sizing to be absolutely fine compared to the chart
About 30-50g heavier than most of the opposition and that is without a pad included.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
A 30-degree wash with nothing else are the instructions, and they seemed to wash up fine even when covered in mud.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Against the wind and rain the tights are hard to fault.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The waterproof coating should last the lifetime of the tights.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They are pricey compared to some similar bib tights.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The choice of materials for the different panels and their performance mean the Pearl Izumis are a go-to pair of bib tights, especially when the weather is really cold and wet. A quality fit is another high point. You can get cheaper, but I think these still warrant an 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.