These Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Shorts are the most impressive shorts I've ever worn, as simple as that. Pearl Izumi has used a fabric that is so comfortable that you literally do not notice that you are wearing these, and the chamois is absolutely spot on. The cost may be steep but seriously, what price can you put on perfection?
Pretty much all of the kit we test here on road.cc does a decent job which is why poor reviews are few and far between. Give a non-cyclist ten pairs of shorts ranging between £20 and £200 and they probably wouldn't notice the difference, but that's what we do. As testers (or testies, you decide) we notice the small differences that define a great product over the good – those little details.
With these Pro bibs, though, there is no need for any of that. They literally smash everything else I've ever worn out of the park.
The PRO Transfer fabric is unbelievably soft against the skin, but the only time you feel it is when you pull the shorts on. You know it's comfortable then but once on the bike it just disappears.
It has the perfect balance of compression and support without being noticeable. Even around the leg grippers, small dashes of silicone stop them moving but with just the right amount of pressure, so that even with a whole day in the saddle you aren't feeling any discomfort.
Unlike most shorts where they use a mesh for the back panel and straps, the Pros carry on with the same fabric with the straps being cut wide to reduce pressure over the shoulders. They are laser cut too, so there is no additional seams around the edges. You don't feel a thing even when crouched into the most aero of positions, the material just moves with you.
When I started cycling 20 years ago, it was always stated how many panels bib shorts were made from – the bigger the number, the closer the cut matched the rider's body. Six, eight, ten... the numbers grew, but these days it doesn't even warrant a mention so the fact that Pearl Izumi has achieved this level of fit and comfort from just seven panels is impressive.
Fabric isn't everything, though, the chamois is still the defining factor. Pearl Izumi has gone with a PRO Escape 1:1 pad and it follows a trend that I have been seeing a lot in the latest top-end shorts.
For years many pads were using multiple channels between differing density pads to create comfort and reduce numbness but the latest pads have done away with this and are literally smooth with a single thickness.
I've ridden everything from flat-out, hour-long blasts on the road to six-hour jaunts on the gravel in these shorts and I've never once felt any discomfort. The pad is spot on.
So price is the only thing left.
Could I afford to drop two weeks' groceries for a family of five on a pair of cycling shorts? No, probably not, but now I've worn them I'd definitely work out a way that I could.
The material used is thicker than I'd expect, considering the feel and that means that it is looking to be very durable indeed, considering it's a pair of bibs that you are likely to keep for your best rides – so you don't need to worry about them being too fragile for day to day wear.
One of my favourite pairs of bib shorts are the £130 dhb Aeron Raceline from its top end LAB line up, but these Pearl Izumis knock them into a cocked hat.
They are only £20 more expensive than the Attaquer All Day bib shorts which scored well, but the comfort of the Pros looks to win out and they don't have the mesh bibs which increases their pleasure to wear.
Overall, I've worn some excellent bib shorts over the years that I've been testing kit for road.cc but none have come that close to perfection as these Pearl Izumis have. Yes, it's a massive outlay for a single garment but if I'd spent the cash I'd smile every time I put them on. They're also available in black.
Top notch materials makes these the most comfortable bib shorts I've ever worn, full stop!
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Pearl Izumi says, "A modern bib short crafted with luxurious materials for all day support and comfort."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
"Crafted with long ride comfort at the top of the list, we have paired our most supportive and breathable PRO Escape 1:1® Chamois with luxurious Italian PRO Transfer fabric, to create a bib short that you will choose for your most important rides. Just seven carefully engineered panels are used to minimize seaming for a perfect contour to your body. Wide, laser cut bib straps eliminate the need for additional binding for a barely there, yet supportive fit. The raw edge hems create a smooth transition from short to skin for a sleek, high performance look and feel, with a printed silicone gripper to hold it securely in place even during hard efforts."
A lot of top end materials can be quite fragile but these bibs will take a fair bit of wear and tear.
The material gives a close fit without being restrictive.
Spot on to the sizing guides.
You can get quality shorts for a lot less but taking everything into account I actually reckon these Pro bibs are good for the money compared with others out there.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Bunged them through the wash as normal with no issues. These aren't fragile, top-end shorts where they need to placed in a bag or anything to keep them safe.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The most comfortable pair of shorts I've ever worn.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit, the fabric, the pad... should I go on?
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing at all.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Taking everything into consideration I'd say that these bib shorts are actually a bit of a bargain against pricier opposition.
Did you enjoy using the product? Absolutely
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Without a doubt.
Use this box to explain your overall score
There is literally nothing I'd change about these bib shorts and even though they are a big outlay they are worth every penny.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!