There have been some exciting clothing developments in recent years and the most interesting have been those aimed at combatting typical British winter wind and rain with mild temperatures, and the likes of Castelli’s Nano Flex, Lusso Max Repel Sportful NoRain are two very good examples of technologies that have changed how cyclists deal with such weather conditions.
Pearl Izumi has set its sights on this market, setting out it says to “make gear that will help you thrive in winter drizzle and get out of the house right after an early season storm.” It has a three-year exclusive deal to use a new hydrophobic fabric technology that it’s calling PI Dry, intended to repel rain and road spray without compromising breathability.
The treatment coats individual fibres in the fabric, unlike the more standard DWR which is a coating applied to the surface of a fabric, and this says Pearl Izumi means the fabric will retain its water resistance for the life of the garment - after 100 washes it says 90% of the performance is maintained. It’s also stain resistant.
The individual fibres are combined into yarns and then knitted into a fabric, so the water resistance is baked right into the material and not just coated over the top. It’s an environmentally safe process. This also allows for greater wicking properties, so breathability is improved, as well as maintaining water repellency under stretch so the fit can be improved compared to traditional hard shell fabrics. And when the fabric is wet you simply shake it dry.
"Extending the useful range of our thermal fabrics to riders dealing with varied weather conditions is a huge bonus for everyone," commented Alex Strouthopoulos, senior product line manager at Pearl Izumi. "The permanent finish of PI DRY means that the benefit is there for the life of the garment, so riders don't need to worry about diminishing performance if they happen to ride a lot."
The new PI Dry fabric will initially be used in a range of bib tights, leggings, leg, arm and knee warmers, but we expect the company to roll it out to more garments in the three years it has exclusivity with the fabric. We don’t have UK prices yet, but in the US the tights will cost $140-195, with knee warmers $45 and arm warmers $35.
We look forward to getting some of the new Pearl Izumi clothing in for testing this autumn, so stay tuned for more details on this exciting new option on the clothing market. More at www.pearlizumi.co.uk
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.