At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.What the road.cc scores mean
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
If you've been riding for more than a few years, these Pearl Izumi Escape Quest bib shorts should offer no surprises – they're very much the kind of kit we were all using a decade ago. That's not to say they're outmoded or not up to the task – and black never goes out of fashion, does it? Neither does comfort, which I'm pleased to report these delivered – and at an attractive price to boot.
So, what you get is a six-panel construction, all securely double-stitched for durability. While most of the seams and hems are not flatlock stitched, they do sit flat against the skin once you put them on and I had no issues with rubbing or chafing.
The lowers are your standard nylon/Lycra/elastane mix, in a fairly thin fabric. The uppers are all-mesh – mostly in recycled polyester according to the label, which is a little environmental bonus – and the straps are nice and wide and sit flat. There's plenty of length here, too, even for my 6ft 3in.
What you don't get is fashionably raw-edged thigh gripper. It's a simple fold-over-and-stitch hem with enough silicone to keep them securely in place without dragging too much against your leg skin or hairs (should you possess any). This is the only area where Pearl Izumi has chosen to flatlock the double-stitching, to make a plain but comfortable hem.
Nor is there anything fancy happening in the pad department. It's a regular naan-bread insert, in single-density foam, without any inserts or panels. The main concession to comfort is in the thicker foam under the sit bones and seat area. This doesn't extend too far to the sides, so there's no excessive bulk pushing up against the inside of the legs.
It's held in place by a zig-zag stitch that leaves the raw foam edge exposed all around the pad; not particularly thrilling from an aesthetics point of view, but hey, what do you want for £50? For me, the shorts proved comfortable over rides of up to 80 miles in some fairly demanding late-winter and spring conditions.
What they also lack is any resistance to the wind. To be fair, Pearl Izumi does rate them as for warm, sunny weather (over 20 degrees, and I'll let you know when we get there) so it's not surprising those north-easterly spring breezes went right through them. I often wore them under other layers such as baggies or touring trousers and they worked really well.
The broad front and back panels, on the other hand, mean they cover more of these bodily regions than some other bibs. The mesh is lightweight and has plenty of stretch. I didn't find them unduly sweaty in those areas but, as I say, they've not had much warm weather testing. It's worth bearing in mind if you're thinking of foreign summer outings.
They're US designed and come up larger than the equivalent European sizes. I tested a large and could probably have fitted into a medium, so if you usually fall between sizes, plump for the smaller with these. Having said that, they fitted me very well and the not-too-restrictive cut was a bit of a revelation when so much road kit seems to overlook the fact that you need to breathe.
With the price of many pairs of bibs heading rapidly towards £200, these have to be seen as a bargain.
They're not completely alone, and if you want something not too far off this price mark but a bit warmer, you could try these Van Rysel RCR500 Super Roubaix winter shorts for £54.99. Stu tested them last year and thought they were very good.
Overall, comfortable and good value at full price, and often available at a generous discount, the Escape Quests are well worth considering as your everyday bibs.
Simple everyday bib shorts that fit well and are comfortable – hard to fault, for the money
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Escape Quest Bib Short
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
As described on the Freewheel website: "A quality cycling bib short designed to keep you comfortable, dry and chafe-free so you can enjoy all the time you spend in the saddle."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
SELECT Transfer fabric sets the benchmark for moisture transfer
New blended thickness SELECT Escape 1:1™® Chamois features a zig zag stitch for stretch and Polyester brushed face fabric and single density foam (10mm max) for chafe free comfort, stability and support
6-panel anatomic design
Turned hem with silicon print holds the short comfortably in position
Mesh bib upper provides stability and support
BioViz® reflective elements for low-light visibility
9.5 inches inseam [size medium]
Weather Forecast: Warm and sunny
Temperature Rating: 20 to 30 degrees
From the label:
Material: Main Body: 88% nylon, 12% LYCRA elastane Bib Mesh: 86% recycled polyester, 14% elastane 4VP: Main Body: 88% nylon, 12% LYCRA elastane Side Panel: 85% nylon, 15% LYCRA elastane Bib Mesh: 86% recycled polyester, 14% elastane
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Six-panel design. All the seams and hems are securely double-stitched, though only the leg grippers are flatlocked. The pad is sewn in with a simple zig-zag that leaves the raw edge of the foam exposed.
Comfort is key in bib shorts; that includes not getting too sweaty but mainly centres on saddle comfort and rubbing/chafing. These shorts performed well in all these areas. Admittedly, they were tested in less-than-optimum UK spring weather.
These look likely to last a good while, given the solidity of the construction. The choice of a thinner fabric for the seat and legs might be the only cause for replacement, if they get too see-through with use!
I loved these; if you're tall and slender, like me, it's nice that they're not too restrictive and there's plenty of length in the uppers to avoid them cutting in at the shoulders.
Being US-designed, they may come up a bit bigger than some. I always need a large but I probably could still have got into a medium. If you like a snug fit, choose a size down. The XXL must be huge!
The lightweight fabric, simple pad and mesh uppers make these hardly noticeable: a good set to take on tour.
The pad is basic but did a good job; there's about 10mm thickness of foam under the sit bones and in the seat area, but less against the inner legs so they didn't rub. Seams were all excellent; the general good cut really shows through in use. Regarding moisture transfer, these are meant for warmer weather and didn't really get a thorough test in ideal conditions, but I had no complaints about condensation or sweatiness.
Very good value at full price – and often to be found discounted.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
All the usual sports kit advice applies. These dried very quickly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These did the job very well. They were comfortable to wear, a good fit in general, the pad is basic but pretty comfortable over the 60 to 80-mile rides I tested them on, and ideal over shorter distances.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well designed, well cut, simple black bib shorts for everyday summer riding. The price is great too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They were a bit draughty on cooler days, but that's not really a fault in shorts designed for summer conditions.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Cheaper even than other good value shorts. The Van Rysel RCR500 Super Roubaix winter shorts are £54.99 – worth a look if you want something a little warmer. Another good value option that adds a dash of colour is dhb's Blok Bib Short at £65 – still £15 more than the Escape Quests though.
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 may be quite simple but the good cut and fit make for very comfortable shorts, which is what counts. The pad, too, proved up to some pretty long days out. It's difficult to fault them at the price, though watch out for that US sizing – and you'll maybe want something a bit warmer for a fair part of the year, given the UK climate.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,