12 May 2009
Bicycling Magazine Gear of the Day Review April 2009
The first chamois I ever loved came in a pair of Pearl Izumi P.R.O. women's cycling shorts. That was well over ten years ago, and I rode that lycra through miles of singletrack, years of commuting and my share of MS150s. I never complained of one saddle sore and couldn't understand the constant refrain of post-ride pain from fellow riders. Club kit eventually took their place, then a tragic brush with a fence post ripped the fatal gash in my first Pearl PRO's.
So when I recently went surfing for some low-profile chamois to log mountain rides and training miles, I was thrilled to learn Pearl Izumi makes the P.R.O. short in a women's-specific bib. Similar to the boxers vs. briefs conundrum, I'm a bib-girl. I like the fluid feel of riding without a band around my waist and do most of my racing in a skinsuit, so bibs feel good to me.
Pearl Izumi's trademarked P.R.O. Microsensor fabric is designed to wick moisture away and keep you dry on long rides or hard training days. The Direct Vent panels are contoured to offer ventilation in the torso where your base layer, jersey or jacket might cover you on brisk days. The Flatlock seams are both sturdy and give, which means chafe-free riding. And the wide hem and bonded silicone gripper won't pinch or feel tight around your thighs. My favorite detail by far is the tiny clasp that keeps the straps secure across your breasts. Yes, I said breasts. This is a women's bib short after all. Without it, the straps frame whatever assets you have, and that's the last thing I want to think about when I ride. The clasp gives you a crisp, clean silhouette from top-to-bottom. Which reminds me . . . I can't forget the supple P.R.O. 3D chamois, which is what made me want a pair of these bibs in the first place.
It's the details that count and each year Pearl Izumi reinvents the wheel and makes this piece of apparel better. The women's short costs $130 while the bibs sell for $155. That may seem steep until you do a cost per mile analysis and account for the hours of comfortable riding you'll get for your money. Now all of a sudden you've got a deal.
Years of feedback and advancements in performance apparel go into each pair. I like that the P.R.O. chamois has been around as long as I've been committed to riding my bike. That tells me I can count on these bibs to deliver more great miles with confidence. — Liz Reap Carlson