'Infused with crushed volcanic rock.' That's the blurb behind the fabric used on the front panels of the Pearl Izumi Transfer Sleeveless Baselayer. With claimed properties of excellent moisture absorption, great wicking and odour elimination, it covers everything an underlayer needs to provide. And do you know what? It delivers.
The Transfer baselayer feels great in your hands even before you put it on, and you just know it is going to sit softly against the skin with no part itching or scratching as you ride.
The fit is close – 'form fit' as Pearl Izumi calls it – which I found perfectly comfortable no matter how long I was wearing it. Things like the arm holes are dropped quite a bit below the armpit, which means there is no irritation here from seams if you move your arms about a lot, and the shoulder straps are wide enough to offer a nice base between skin and bib short straps.
With such a close cut the Transfer touches your skin everywhere it should, which really aids getting the sweat away from your body and out into the atmosphere.
So that volcanic rock, or activated charcoal, used in the front panels... The fabric is called Minerale and Pearl Izumi uses it across its entire range. In the marketing video Pearl Izumi explains that, 'The volcanic rock is seamlessly infused with the fibres. The yarns are extruded yielding a broad, porous structure with a surface area that is eight times larger than any other performance fabric.
"This is why garments made with Minerale dries up to 50% faster than fabrics made with more traditional polyester.'
Claims that we can obviously not confirm or deny, but I will say this for the Transfer: when we had those few weeks of 30°C temperatures, this baselayer kept me feeling much more comfortable than the other basic mesh designed baselayers I was wearing. I still got hot and sweaty, but when I stopped for a mid-ride photo opportunity or café refuel I didn't get that clammy feeling or felt like I was wearing a wet piece of apparel. Whether it's 50 per cent more efficient, though, I don't know.
Another claimed benefit of activated charcoal is that it gets rid of nasty whiffs from bacteria. Again the Transfer scored very highly here.
Round at the rear the Transfer uses a mesh material which is much lighter than the rest and really helps with removing body heat in addition to the main fabric of the baselayer.
Priced at £29.99, the Pearl Izumi offers very decent value for money considering the all-round quality and performance of the kit. It is well made with what looks to be very close attention to detail, plus the sizing comes up pretty much spot on to what the sizing charts show.
Another one to consider is the Lusso Race baselayer, which for me had a much more snug fit, though the Transfer has the edge when it comes to performance.
The Altura Dry Mesh also scored highly, but here the Pearl Izumi just nips it on price, with the Altura costing £34.99.
On the whole, the Transfer is comfortable, well made and performs better than most, so I'd say the £29.99 asking price is well justified.
A very comfortable baselayer that also delivers on performance, especially when the temperature is very hot
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Transfer Sleeveless Baselayer
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Craft says: "This cycling specific summer weight baselayer is designed to keep you cool and comfortable even on hot days. P.R.O. Transfer fabric facilitates the evaporative process by rapidly moving moisture away from your skin to outer layers, while activated charcoal in the front panel fabric further speeds dry time and cooling. In back, mesh panels maximize ventilation. Wear this baselayer under a short sleeve jersey during the heat of summer, and then add it to your cool weather layering system in spring or autumn."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Craft lists these features:
Cycling specific, close to body, anatomic fit
Transfer Dry fabric provides optimal moisture transfer for quick dry performance
Activated charcoal integrated into the yarns used in front panels to speed dry time even more
Soft merrow seams for next to body comfort
Front Panel: MineraleTM knit- 70% MineraleTM 27% polyester 3% elastane; Weight 120 g/m2; Back Panel: Polyester lite mesh 88% polyester 12% elastane; Weight 108 g/m2;
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washing was no problem as it cleaned up each time and always smelt fresh.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Close fitting and impressive fabric means that it worked exactly like a baselayer should.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Moisture wicking is impressive.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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 score
It does everything a baselayer should, and it does it exceptionally well.
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.