The Elite shorts from Pearl Izumi are a classic style short, aimed at offering high levels of performance to the demanding female cyclist.
Made in a flat-seamed multi-panel design from the lightweight ELITE Transfer (UltraSensor™) fabric, the Elite's contour well around the muscles of the thigh, giving a supportive feeling ride but with minimal bulk. The fabric wicks moisture away from the skin swiftly and effectively, and the lighter weight of the fabric allows for easy temperature management in warmer conditions or when working extra hard.
The chamois, with three-layer variable density padding, is flexible, comfortable and well designed, with the correct densities just where you need them, without being bulky or intrusive. The next- to- skin covering contributes to the overall comfort and helps with efficient moisture management.
The waistband is nicely shaped, higher at the back and lower at the front for riding comfort, but not the most flexible, with quite a firm stretch, which could cause some discomfort to those between sizes (size small is roughly equivalent to a UK size 8-10).
The shorts are a classic medium length and the cut would suit average height women well. Shorter women would probably find the legs quite long. Silicone leg grippers keep the shorts well secured, but for some reason the stitching between the grippers and the hem of the shorts (both stretchy) allows for no give, meaning a tight squeeze at the fairly bulky seam between the gripper and the shorts. This can lead to some discomfort on all but shorter rides.
Well designed, high performance shorts. It's just a shame about that intrusive leg seam.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Women's Elite short
Size tested: S
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?
Classic mid-length short designed for female riders.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
ELITE Transfer (UltraSensor) fabric
Women's specific ELITE 3D Chamois
Flatlock seams on panels
Silicone leg grippers
Seam between leg gripper and leg of short was bulky and didn't stretch, making for an uncomfortable fit.
Wicked moisture well, dried quickly and chamois very well designed.
The jury is out but durability could be a problem with the strain being put on the seam between leg and gripper.
Otherwise well-made and good fabric quality.
Problems with leg seam and over firm waistband.
If the leg seams don't cause you problems, this is a good, if pricy, pair of performance shorts.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed well, apart from the leg seams being uncomfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Leg length, fabric, chamois.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Leg seams, waistband.
Did you enjoy using the product? Mostly.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, although it would be much better with more flexible seams at the leg.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A great pair of shorts spoiled by the issues with the seams at the legs.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.