Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short Review
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Wear an uncomfortable pair of bib shorts, and you’ll be sorry – sorry for the better portion of a 50 mile or so ride. Find a comfortable bib short, and you’ll never even notice it’s there. I personally would choose the latter over the former, and the folks at Pearl Izumi put so much R&D into the Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bid Short that you can’t help but be comfortable. Inevitably, that discomfort dramatically ramp up when you’re already 25 miles from home, and have nothing with you to staunch the bleeding in your *ahem* sensitive areas. Don’t modify your saddle bag to carry gauze – pick the right bib shorts instead.
Features of the Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short
There are bib shorts… and then there are bib shorts. Any dedicated cyclist has run across a few (or more than a few) in his or her day. The difference is first and foremost in the material; a close second to this is the fit – but more on that in my thoughts on testing. The material used in the Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short is a high quality nylon spandex blend – this provides the compression needed to keep the shorts in place for long distance rides without cutting off circulation or becoming uncomfortable. The outer panels are have much the same blend with a slightly lower quotient of spandex, and continue down to a “gripperless” hem. This is a must have, in my humble opinion, as I’m a not one to keep my legs shaved on a regular basis. Hems with “grippers” in them tend to pinch uncomfortably, ride up, and all in all become much more trouble than their worth. The “gripperless” hem is clutch, and really serves to make the short comfortable. Rounding out the upper portion is a mesh/spandex top, all attached by flatlock seams. Last, but not least (and perhaps the most important feature) is the chamois. This is where the short gets it’s name, as it’s inspired by the Pearl Izumi team chamois. The Elite 3d Chamois on the Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short is specifically designed to provide a comfortable ride over the long haul without rubbing/chafing no matter how damp it gets.
Testing the Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short
Over a period of three weeks, I was able to give the Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short quite a few tests. I typically rode a couple of times between wash cycles without any discomfort or irritation; each wash cycle I carefully followed the care instructions listed on the tag. I did have to modify my workout routine as these bear big black letters on the tag discouraging the user from using these anywhere near a pool/chlorine – while I did use these for several brick workouts, I always carefully showered prior to hopping on the bike to avoid contact with chlorine. This isn’t really a big deal, as Pearl does make several sets of shorts designed just for this; these are cycle specific. My rides were up to 40 miles in length during this training phase, with a combination of hill workouts, long spin rides, and sprints thrown in for good measure. Temperatures ranged from low 40’s (I got snowed on one time in these, thank you Colorado “Spring” weather) to the mid 70’s on one particularly fine day. I loved the shorts for all temperatures, as I’m not really a leggings/tights sort of guy on the bike. I particularly enjoyed the fact that even on a day in the mid 70’s, the black fabric stays cool and dry, no matter how long exposed to the sun.
The upper mesh straps and body were extremely comfortable to wear. Some bibs tend to pinch and pull uncomfortably, while other tend to be so loose you may as well not have worn bibs at all. The Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short strikes a good balance here by having just enough elastic to hold snug to your frame without restricting movement, and comfortably stays with you regardless of how much you move around in and out of the saddle. As mentioned above, the panel combination is excellent at wicking sweat away and keeping you cool and dry, and the ELITE 3D chamois does a great job of dealing with sore spots/hot spots that develop over long rides.
Final thoughts on the Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short
Overall, the Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Bib Short is a great selection for all types of rides in various climates/conditions. The great blend of fabrics, combined with Pearl’s excellent construction make them comfortable enough for all day wear, and they are offered in several color choices on the Pearl website just in case you don’t like the look of the Rally Black that we tested. I’m not much for the matchy matchy approach when riding, but I did like the look well enough when paired with the Elite Thermal LTD Jersey reviewed here by yours truly. Head on over to www.pearlizumi.com to check them out for yourself.