Pearl Izumi's Rove trousers are stretchy, comfortable and thoroughly unrestrictive in the saddle. They look smart and have some excellent hidden reflective elements, too. But despite some claimed weatherproofing, they're a bit lightweight for year-round riding.
There seems to be no shortage of urban and commuter-friendly cycling trousers on the market these days. But while it's a trite point to say some are better than others, initial impressions of these Rove options from Pearl Izumi are very good.
The four-way stretchy fabric – which consists of 70% organic cotton, eco fans – is extremely accommodating, although the quite narrow, straight legs are bound to cling to most cyclists' thighs. The main downside to this, as you'll spot in the pictures, is that you get a touch of the old VPLs if you're wearing padded shorts underneath.
In the saddle, though, that clinginess is not a bad thing because it offers unrestricted movement that actually seems like a good second best to Lycra. The cut of the trousers is helpful, too, with a nice high back and a forgiving waistband.
Unlike many other trousers, where diamond-shaped gussets are included to move seams away from pressure point, Pearl Izumi simply brings the seams further towards the front. It all works very well. Combined with the totally unhindered pedalling action, these trousers are so unintrusive to wear, you could whack them on for the World Naked Bike Ride and still feel like you were joining in the fun.
As well as performance, practicalities are taken care of with a hidden zipped pocket on the outer right thigh, another zipped pocket at the rear right, and a poppered pocket on the rear left, which contains a little surprise...
While the trousers are a little darker in real than our pictures show, they do feature some subtle reflectivity. For instance, my wife noticed the natty pop-out lining of that left rear pocket which features 'BioViz' detailing.
Also, if you roll up the left leg you'll find even more bright yellow BioVizing on the inside, and a further reflective stripe inside the right leg.
However, the Roves aren't quite perfect. That lightweight fabric and build brings with it a few issues, the main one being weatherproofing. Pearl Izumi says the material has been treated with water-shedding durable water repellent, but don't hold out for much – precipitation of anything more than morning mist is going to get these trousers damp.
They don't stand up to seriously chilly breezes too well either. On the flip side, they've been great to wear in summer as they offer very decent breathability, and they dry out super-quickly.
My only other concern is longevity. I've used and washed the Roves a fair bit and everything has stood up well so far – Pearl Izumi kit tends to be made beautifully. But the lightweight nature of the trousers does have me wondering how long they'll last, especially in daily use – maybe they'll prove me wrong, but a bit of reinforcement at the seat wouldn't have gone amiss.
While there are plenty of commuting trousers out there, the vast majority tend to be based on a pair of jeans. Perhaps the closest match to the Rove's smarter look are Chrome's 5 Pocket Madrona Pants, which cost £120 but proved sturdy and surprisingly windproof. Also similar to the Roves are Rapha's Technical Trousers which Oli tested recently and come in at £110. So the Roves are in the right ballpark, price-wise.
The distinction between the Chromes and these Pearl Izumis is actually quite an important point. I've been testing the Roves in summer and they've been fantastic lightweight trousers that offer excellent comfort, particularly in the heat, and work superbly well in mild to warm temperatures. But I wouldn't say they were quite suitable for all-year-round wear. When things get a little nippy, you might want just a bit more heft.
Superbly comfortable and lightweight smart commuting trousers – but you'll want something else in winter
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Men's Rove Trousers
Size tested: 38
Tell us what the product is for
These are stretchy cycling trousers for smart-casual commuters.
Pearl Izumi says: "A casual trousers with hidden BioViz® features and enough stretch for riding confidently around town. It would be easy to mistake this trousers for an everyday jean, thanks in part to the organic cotton we use in the fabric. Blended with that cotton, though, is nylon to add durability and stretch; which make it equally well-suited to errand running or riding home from work. A durable water-resistant treatment adds water resistance, while the gusseted crotch repositions irritating seams found in any typical jean. BioViz® elements in the cuff and back pocket increase visibility when needed and stow away when you prefer to blend in."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pearl Izumi lists:
Four-way stretch fabric with water-shedding durable water repellent
Straight leg fit
Zip-secure thigh pocket
Higher-in-the-rear waistband for better on-bike fit
Easy-to-conceal BioViz® elements in the roll-up leg opening and fold out back pocket flap
70% organic cotton
Pearl Izumi kit is often beautifully made and this is no exception, with fantastic detailing such as the hide-away reflective elements.
Excellent mild and warm weather performance – quick drying, lightweight and breathable. Not so good in wet, cold or windy conditions, though.
I've suffered no problems with the Roves during testing, but I worry that the lightweight nature of the material may suffer in high-wear areas, such as the seat. Perhaps they'll prove me wrong.
Pretty good – there's a high enough back and leg length is just about right for me (6ft) to use turn-ups. They are a bit clingy on the thighs, though.
Really good – sized up exactly as I'd hoped.
Again, very good – they're impressively lightweight.
Fantastic comfort in the saddle. They don't hinder pedalling motion at all and, in warm weather particularly, they allow the rider to stay cool.
Compared to Chrome's 5 Pocket Madrona Pants, which cost £120, and Rapha's Technical Trousers at £110, they seem like decent value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy – in the machine at 30 degrees, then a tumble on low heat.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent performance in the saddle and during mild or hot weather.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight nature and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Come winter, the lightweight nature!
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Chrome's 5 Pocket Madrona Pants cost £120 but are sturdy and surprisingly windproof. Rapha's Technical Trousers are very similar to the Roves and come in at £110.
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 Roves have proven excellent options for the particular months during which they've been tested and, in my experience, they're hard to fault. However, it's clear they won't stand up quite so well to cooler weather, and their rain-repellency and long-term durability is questionable.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure