The latest version of Pearl Izumi's Pursuit Hybrid winter bib tights have had some subtle alterations, and with Mike raving about the previous versions in his review almost two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that, if anything, they've got even better. The added PI Dry technology on the back of the legs prevents you getting soaked from spray, they're super-stretchy and flexible so you can use them on hard training sessions too, and the padding is really comfortable – they're my favourite bib tights!
The Pursuit Hybrids are supposed to be optimal for temperatures ranging from -5C to +5°C, although from my test rides I'd say you can definitely get away with using them in temps up to 10°C as long as you don't go too overdressed on top.
The straps are very soft so caused no irritation at all, and the breathable frontage with mesh material comes up just past the belly button, pretty much the middle of your midriff. It means for deep winter you'll be wanting to layer up on top, but for me that's preferable because I didn't feel too overwhelmed or sweaty in them like I can get in bibs that pretty much come up close to the chest.
Moving down, the backside and legs are lined with a soft fleecy fabric, providing plenty of warmth and excellent breathability. Another thing I noticed in comparison with lower priced bibs is how much stretch the Pearl Izumis offer; usually, for fast training rides I'd stick with shorts and leg warmers for the extra freedom of movement around the knee area, but there's plenty of give in these and it just wasn't an issue.
At the ankles there are no zips or straps, it's simply a strong elasticated cuff – something I wish other brands would take note of. Foot straps are just a bit annoying and do little to hold them in position anyway, I find. The cuffs here are easily stretchy enough to put over socks and a winter boot. With straps and zips you really need to put socks on first which I often forget (I also forget with the Hybrid Pursuits, but you can just roll them up so it's easier).
The pad is really comfortable – sometimes I can get a bit of an outline on my backside and some chafing on long, soggy rides, but experienced nothing of the sort here.
The PI Dry tech added to the back of the legs is a hydrophobic treatment (you can watch me getting splashed to demonstrate how it works, here) and repels water without affecting breathability. When you splash through puddles or get sprayed, the water will just roll off the surface to stop you getting soaked through. It works very well on these tights, and PI Dry also coats each individual fibre so it never loses its effectiveness over time like a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment.
Pearl Izumi's 'BioViz' reflective elements appear on the back of the ankles, which is supposed to provide some extra visibility, but, following confirmation from some friends, they do a very minimal job of helping you to be seen. It ticks a box, but if I was to have one criticism of these tights it's that if you're buying them on the strength of the extra visibility, you might be disappointed. That said, if you have a good set of lights, I don't think it really matters.
Over the test period I've found them to be impressively robust – after a couple of months and 10 or more washes plus time in the dryer, they're pretty much as new, so no complaints here, and I've no doubt they will last years.
In terms of value... yes, they are expensive, but not the most expensive, and I'd consider them a good investment. Both Gore's C7 Windstopper Pro Bibs and Santini's Giove reviewed on the site recently cost more at £179.99 and £170 respectively, and Rapha's Pro Team Winter Tights are a whopping £210. At the lower end, Caratti's Elite Windproof tights are just £65, but our reviewer Stu says the thick windproof panels can restrict movement. I have a pair of Caratti bibs and also some dhb Classic Thermals, and can definitely vouch for some restriction in movement that I just don't get with Pearl Izumi's Hybrids.
You could choose to spend another £20 on the £179.99 Pursuit Hybrid Pro tights, with upgraded softshell panels and a slightly more luxurious chamois, but after a month in these I can't really see why you'd need to pay the extra (although I have no basis for comparison, admittedly).
We've heard on the grapevine that Pearl Izumi's apparel is set for a bit of a colour and design overhaul from spring/summer onwards, but I for one hope the designers don't do anything too radical to these bib tights, because they're probably the best I've ever worn.
There are cheaper options, of course, but nothing in my current cycling wardrobe is as good, and personally I think they're well worth the money. I usually ride to work and back four times a week, so have four pairs of bib tights on rotation through the colder months, and I always look forward to my ride a bit more when it's time to get these out.
Truly excellent bibs that are warm, water resistant and very comfortable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Pursuit Hybrid Cycling Bib Tight
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Pearl Izumi says: "Bad weather won't slow you down with these wind and water blocking mid-weight tights tailored specifically for the pedalling motion. Featuring water shedding PI DRY technology on the back of the legs and lightweight wind and water resistant AmFIB Softshell fabric in areas exposed to wind and road spray, these tights deliver surprising warmth without a lot of bulk. Elastic cuffs are designed to pull on without a zipper allowing these bibs to seamlessly work with booties without the added pressure of stacked zippers."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pearl Izumi lists these features:
PI Dry water resistant tech
Elastic legs cuffs, no zippers
Thermal fleece fabric
BioViz reflective elements
Great technical features, including water resistance, comfy padding and a lot of stretch and breathability.
Work in a wide range of temperatures, fine for all types of riding and very comfy.
More than 10 washes and still as new.
Straps don't pull, they're stretchy so not too difficult to get on, and I really like the elasticated ankle cuffs.
Medium was true to size.
No chafe from outside of the chamois, breathable, and soft straps to prevent any irritation.
Yep, they're pretty expensive, but against comparable tights they're good value – and well worth the money in my opinion.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine after multiple goes in the washer and dryer.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Near perfectly for commuting and hard training sessions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort, the ankle cuffs and the chamois.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're expensive, but not the most expensive – both Gore's C7 Windstopper Pro Bibs and Santini's Giove reviewed on the site recently cost more at £179.99 and £170 respectively. At the lower end, Caratti's Elite Windproof tights are just £65, but our reviewer says the thick windproof panels can restrict movement.
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 overall score
These provide enough warmth for minus temperatures and are flexible and stretchy enough to use on hard rides without feeling restrictive. I accept some might prefer zips on the ankles and the tiny bits of reflectiveness are pretty pointless on an otherwise all-black garment, so they just miss out on a 10/10.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac) My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon races
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.