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The Pearl Izumi Elite WxB Jacket will keep you dry, but with no features to speak of and a loose fit, it's not the best value out there.
The WxB is a minimalist jacket. Things that don't feature include pockets, vents, Velcro, a drop tail, or the humble microfleece collar liner. Thanks to all this absence it does pack down small – taking up 600ml rolled tightly, three-quarters the volume of the recently reviewed five-star Endura FS260-Pro SL Shell, but weighing 2g more.
In addition to saving you a whopping 2g in size medium, the Endura gives you an external gel/bar pocket, a slash zip for accessing the jersey, a proper bum-covering tail and a cunning elastic roll-stow strap. The WxB doesn't even give you a hanging loop for the back of the door or locker.
It's through the still-fresh prism of the Endura that I assess the £150 WxB – and for £10 more it delivers a whole lot less.
The look of the WxB is definitely less pro, more policeman. On my first outing with it, the comments from other riders were that I was perfectly attired to direct traffic, the forearm hi-vis sections looking for all the world like a road policeman's gauntlets.
Hi-vis is a divisive subject, and the two-thirds black WxB is possibly going to annoy both sides of the argument. Styling is of course entirely subjective, but one downside of the hi-vis fabric is that it does mark easily. After a month of use and storage there's a number of dirty scuffs and black spots that aren't shifting.
Pearl Izumi calls the fit 'Semi-Form' – I call it loose-bordering-baggy, even being bang on the 38in chest/33in waist spec for medium. Certainly for a product with 'Elite' in the title and costing £150, there's too much fabric acreage going on. Around the bicep there's twice as much loose fabric as the Endura FS260 has, and this translates into flapping at speed.
This is possibly down to the garment only being made of 10 panels, including one running from elbow to elbow across the shoulder. Fewer seams to fail, sure, but an inevitable compromise in fit results. The sleeves come up pleasingly long, my 1.04 Ape Index spread easily accommodated with the elastic cuffs ending in angled outside edges – bang on trend. So given the generosity in the sleeves, I can't help but feel a small might have been close to a genuine 'Elite Performance' fit on my 6ft, 73kg frame (it's not me in the pictures).
One critical point of a shell is how easy it is to ventilate – especially if there aren't any other vents to open or close. The zip of the WxB is waterproof – hurrah! – but is also a two-handed job, up or down. This means you delay nipping the zip up or down a bit until you can sit up with both hands off the bar, or come to a complete stop. Either way, it's a faff. Pearl Izumi has included a storm flap behind the zip, so it can't think it's that waterproof either. And there's no zip garage. At least the zip pull is nice and long. A few small reflective patches on sleeves and tail round out the 'features'.
The 10k/30k fabric (meaning mm of hydrostatic head/ml of vapour transmission per m2 per day) is only half as good on paper as the fabric used in the Endura FS260 shell, and on par with the fabric used in the recent four-star dhb Classics Shell. But the dhb is only 50 quid, not 150. And it has a pocket and a fleecy collar too.
The first time I used the WxB was as a windstopper, on a bright but chilly 4°C day. Less than an hour into the ride I had to remove it due to feeling clammy around the arms – this was over a long-sleeved 150gsm merino and dhb's excellent ASV jersey, and I was surprised breathability wasn't better, as this was a slow run.
Out in proper rain the WxB did keep water at bay over several hours, as you'd expect from something touted to be able to hold off a two-storey-high drainpipe's worth of precipitation. On warmer days the two-handed zip got to be annoying as the need to vent on climbs then zip up for descents recurred. The fit of the sleeves leaves more than enough movement when out of the saddle, and the cut feels right for being on the hoods/drops, but there is a lot of spare fabric on offer for the supposed target market of performance/elite riders.
I wanted to like the WxB, but for the money there are too many compromises and omissions. A few years back it might have shone out, but in today's market where £50 gets you the same performance fabric and fit but with more features for less weight, Pearl Izumi's £150 WxB fails to impress.
Lacking in features yet costing quite a lot, the WxB isn't the best option out there for the money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Elite WxB Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket 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?
Pearl Izumi says:
Stay dry and comfortable with this waterproof, breathable jacket made to shield you from the rain
An essential high performance piece for wet weather, the Elite WxB Jacket is lightweight and minimalist
It's designed to fit over thicker layers or simply a baselayer to help you regulate warmth and it packs down easily to fit in your jersey pocket on days when the weather changes fast
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Elasticized cuffs, hem to shape and fit, easy on/off
Front to back differential for freedom of movement and coverage
Fully seam sealed
Waterproof front zipper
Reflective logos and details in the most visible position for other road users
Directional visibility design uses color to highlight the rider in low light conditions
Waterproof rate: 10,000 mm; Breathability rate: 30,000 g/m2/24 hr
Fabrics: body 100% polyester woven twill 10k/30k 2.5 layer membrane with charcoal backing print
Weather Forecast: Cool and windy with rainfalls
Temperature Rating: 10 degrees
It's well put together.
The zip's a two-handed job and as there are no vents, that lets performance down.
The hi-vis bits mark very easily, but the build quality means it should hold together well.
Keeps you dry enough, but if you sweat lots this is not for you.
Didn't feel impressive – had to vent early and often.
Bit too loose for something claiming to be 'Elite Performance'.
At 211g in medium it's OK – until you put it next to the cheaper, better and lighter Endura FS260-Pro.
As I got too warm, too often, this takes a hit.
At £150 it should be much better than it is.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It washed OK, but the hi-vis sections retained marks.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Middling to average. Could do much better, for the money.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The cuffs, angled for arm length, were great.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The zip. Why does it need to be so stiff?
Did you enjoy using the jacket? I didn't dislike it, apart from the zip. I disliked that.
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Not really.
Use this box to explain your score
For £150, performance is decidedly average and there's a host of tech features other jackets manage for less weight and less money. Ergo, it gets a below-average rating.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling