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Verdict: 
Top notch materials make these the most comfortable bib shorts I've ever worn, full stop!
Weight: 
167g

These Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Shorts are the most impressive shorts I've ever worn, as simple as that. Pearl Izumi has used a fabric that is so comfortable that you literally do not notice that you are wearing these, and the chamois is absolutely spot on. The cost may be steep but seriously, what price can you put on perfection?

  • Pros: Fit, amazing fabric, brilliant chamois
  • Cons: For some the price will be prohibitive

Pretty much all of the kit we test here on road.cc does a decent job which is why poor reviews are few and far between. Give a non-cyclist ten pairs of shorts ranging between £20 and £200 and they probably wouldn't notice the difference, but that's what we do. As testers (or testies, you decide) we notice the small differences that define a great product over the good – those little details.

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With these Pro bibs, though, there is no need for any of that. They literally smash everything else I've ever worn out of the park.

The PRO Transfer fabric is unbelievably soft against the skin, but the only time you feel it is when you pull the shorts on. You know it's comfortable then but once on the bike it just disappears.

Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short Navy - front.jpg

It has the perfect balance of compression and support without being noticeable. Even around the leg grippers, small dashes of silicone stop them moving but with just the right amount of pressure, so that even with a whole day in the saddle you aren't feeling any discomfort.

Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short Navy - cuff detail.jpg

Unlike most shorts where they use a mesh for the back panel and straps, the Pros carry on with the same fabric with the straps being cut wide to reduce pressure over the shoulders. They are laser cut too, so there is no additional seams around the edges. You don't feel a thing even when crouched into the most aero of positions, the material just moves with you.

Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short Navy - front full.jpg

When I started cycling 20 years ago, it was always stated how many panels bib shorts were made from – the bigger the number, the closer the cut matched the rider's body. Six, eight, ten... the numbers grew, but these days it doesn't even warrant a mention so the fact that Pearl Izumi has achieved this level of fit and comfort from just seven panels is impressive.

Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short Navy - seam detail.jpg

Fabric isn't everything, though, the chamois is still the defining factor. Pearl Izumi has gone with a PRO Escape 1:1 pad and it follows a trend that I have been seeing a lot in the latest top-end shorts.

Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short Navy - chamois.jpg

For years many pads were using multiple channels between differing density pads to create comfort and reduce numbness but the latest pads have done away with this and are literally smooth with a single thickness.

I've ridden everything from flat-out, hour-long blasts on the road to six-hour jaunts on the gravel in these shorts and I've never once felt any discomfort. The pad is spot on.

Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short Navy - back.jpg

So price is the only thing left.

Could I afford to drop two weeks' groceries for a family of five on a pair of cycling shorts? No, probably not, but now I've worn them I'd definitely work out a way that I could.

The material used is thicker than I'd expect, considering the feel and that means that it is looking to be very durable indeed, considering it's a pair of bibs that you are likely to keep for your best rides – so you don't need to worry about them being too fragile for day to day wear.

Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short Navy - back detail.jpg

One of my favourite pairs of bib shorts are the £130 dhb Aeron Raceline from its top end LAB line up, but these Pearl Izumis knock them into a cocked hat.

They are only £20 more expensive than the Attaquer All Day bib shorts which scored well, but the comfort of the Pros looks to win out and they don't have the mesh bibs which increases their pleasure to wear.

> Buyer's Guide: 22 of the best cycling bib shorts

Overall, I've worn some excellent bib shorts over the years that I've been testing kit for road.cc but none have come that close to perfection as these Pearl Izumis have. Yes, it's a massive outlay for a single garment but if I'd spent the cash I'd smile every time I put them on. They're also available in black.

Verdict

Top notch materials makes these the most comfortable bib shorts I've ever worn, full stop!

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

Pearl Izumi says, "A modern bib short crafted with luxurious materials for all day support and comfort."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

"Crafted with long ride comfort at the top of the list, we have paired our most supportive and breathable PRO Escape 1:1® Chamois with luxurious Italian PRO Transfer fabric, to create a bib short that you will choose for your most important rides. Just seven carefully engineered panels are used to minimize seaming for a perfect contour to your body. Wide, laser cut bib straps eliminate the need for additional binding for a barely there, yet supportive fit. The raw edge hems create a smooth transition from short to skin for a sleek, high performance look and feel, with a printed silicone gripper to hold it securely in place even during hard efforts."

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

A lot of top end materials can be quite fragile but these bibs will take a fair bit of wear and tear.

Rate the product for fit:
 
10/10

The material gives a close fit without being restrictive.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
9/10

Spot on to the sizing guides.

Rate the product for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
10/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

You can get quality shorts for a lot less but taking everything into account I actually reckon these Pro bibs are good for the money compared with others out there.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Bunged them through the wash as normal with no issues. These aren't fragile, top-end shorts where they need to placed in a bag or anything to keep them safe.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

The most comfortable pair of shorts I've ever worn.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The fit, the fabric, the pad... should I go on?

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing at all.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Taking everything into consideration I'd say that these bib shorts are actually a bit of a bargain against pricier opposition.

Did you enjoy using the product? Absolutely

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Without a doubt.

Use this box to explain your overall score

There is literally nothing I'd change about these bib shorts and even though they are a big outlay they are worth every penny.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 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.

2 comments

Avatar
rtw [60 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

"When I started cycling 20 years ago, it was always stated how many panels bib shorts were made from – the bigger the number, the closer the cut matched the rider's body. Six, eight, ten... the numbers grew, but these days it doesn't even warrant a mention so the fact that Pearl Izumi has achieved this level of fit and comfort from just seven panels is impressive."

20 years ago the materials available meant that to achieve the fit, you needed to use lots of panels. However today, multi-panel shorts are the shorts which are cheaper because the higher end materials have 4 way stretch and a longer fatigue life than 20 years ago.  This means you can use fewer panels, and achieve a better fit.  Why? Because the seams between panels do not stretch in the same way that the material does.  Seams also can cause discomfort, pulling at hairs or chaffing.  They also add weight.

Avatar
wvn8v [1 post] 1 month ago
0 likes

So, you would definitely pick these bibs over the Castelli Velocissimo IV bibs you reviewed last April for gravel or road riding?