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Pearl Izumi Bike Apparel & Accessories Review

October 20, 2016

  • by
  • Drew Zieff

Pearl Izumi’s technical cycling apparel tends to be a staple in most mountain biking wardrobes. We put a couple of their new kits to the test in Spain, and our testers dug the simple functionality of this year’s apparel. We recommend you combine the Summit T-Shirt with the Canyon Shorts for an affordable, simple, stylish and decidedly functional MTB kit.  

Pearl Izumi Summit Jersey

Pearl Izumi Summit Jersey $35.16 - $36.80

Were it not for the bold gray Pearl Izumi logo blazoned on the side of this shirt, the black ever-so-slight v-neck would have been perfect attire for the trendy nightclubs in Barcelona and Madrid. But this is Pearl Izumi we’re talkin’ about here. Our testers skipped the discos and wore this jersey day after day after day of shredding epic singletrack on the Basque Coast. 

Lightweight and loose, this PI piece is a simple, well-done take on modern mountain biking apparel. Testers wore it with and without a backpack, solo and over chest armor. In all-conditions, the jersey performed as hoped and expected. 

After plenty of crashes, bails, and the occasional intimate contact with a thorny bush, there was only a single thread that had been pulled out of place. Easy to hand wash, our testers happily scrubbed the shirt clean of sunscreen, beer, blood, and mud. 

Tester Comment: “There’s not too much to say about this Pearl Izumi jersey, namely because there’s nothing wrong with it, nothing I would change. It stands up to the elements, it’s lightweight and really comfortable. I wore it ride after ride, day after day. The only thing I would say is that black isn’t ideal when the sun is going full steam, but that’s about it.”

Best For: Mountain biking with or without armor, casual everyday use, even just hitting the gym on days when you can’t make it to the trail.

Pearl Izumi Canyon Shorts

Pearl Izumi Canyon Shorts $74.76 - $76.46

Priced on the lower end of Pearl Izumi’s bike shorts, the Canyon offers excellent value, a few welcome features and zero frills. 

When rain storms swung in from the sea and turned the Basque trails in to mud-splattered trenches, the Canyon Shorts weren’t afraid to get down and dirty. Pearl Izumi’s Transfer fabric is designed to wick away wetness and manage moisture — our testers verified this by getting absolutely soaked and continuing to ride in comfort. In fact, the shorts were so comfortable, our testers regularly removed the 3D Chamois — an easily integrated, well-designed bike chamois — and wore them around town, jumping off bridges, cliffs and docks into rivers, oceans and lakes. 

Apart from being quick to dry and comfortable, the Canyon sports two non-zippered front pockets (use at your own risk when going for a ride) and a trustworthy zippered cargo pocket. 

Tester Comment: “The Chamois is top-notch. You minimize sagging — the baggy shorts and the 3D chamois actually work together. Sometimes companies sell MTB shorts without the liner, or if you do get the liner, you’d never remove it to wear the shorts around town. But even though the orange is super bright, I still think the Canyon looks great off the bike. So, in my opinion, this is really a two-for-one deal.”

Best For: Mountain biking, traveling, jumping off cliffs into any and every available water source. 

Upgrade Your Sock Drawer

Our testers worked through several of the latest Pearl Izumi bike socks on a recent mountain biking trip to Spain — wearing them mountain biking, around town, at the airport and everywhere in-between. Here are two of their favorites:

Men’s Elite Low

Pearl Izumi Men’s Elite Low Starting at: $12.28

On hot, long rides that require a bit of a pedal, this is the go-to. The low-cuff also pairs well with longer shin armor if you use it. Either way, the polyester/nylon/spandex blend supplies the right balance between stretch, compression and ventilation. 

Tester Comment: “They say they’re for cycling, and they are. But I wear them running, hiking, you name it.”

Men’s P.R.O. Tall

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Tall Sock

Even with the taller cuff length and the black colorway, testers didn’t overheat in the P.R.O. tall sock — namely because of the Transfer yarn weave: Pearl Izumi’s premium moisture management technology. Testers noted a lack of hot spots and pressure points, as Pearl Izumi annihilated the words “toe seam” from their production vocabulary.

Tester Comment: “Ultra comfortable. I ended up wearing these all the time: on the train, on hikes, walks around the city, nights out on the town. Never overheated, never had hot spots. I’d honestly be ecstatic if the Pearl Izumi Sock Fairy just replaced all of my random socks with these guys.”

Best For: Mountain biking, road biking, triathlons

Pearl Izumi Full Finger Bike Gloves: One Lightweight, One Burly

Our testers logged tens of thousands of vertical feet in both of these Pearl Izumi full-finger biking gloves. The Divide will delight cross-country crushing minimalists with its mesh body and lightweight build, while the Summit is a bit burlier and more tuned for Enduro-type riding or cold weather rides. 

The Divide Gloves

Pearl Izumi Divide Glove Starting at: $18.61

When feathering the brakes and chasing Basque MTB’s expert guides down flowing singletrack along the Spanish coast, the Divide’s synthetic leather grip provided ample bike feel without overdoing it on padding.

The back of the hands are wrapped in a minimal mesh fabric, which testers appreciated on fire road climbs to hidden downhill trails. That said, that mesh doesn’t have a high tolerance to abrasion; a ride-by run-in with a low-hanging branch left a small rip in one of the gloves and general wear was evident after three weeks of solid use (both in Spain and upon return to the United States). Also, there’s no Velcro strap along the wrist, but as long as you correctly size the glove the elastic cuff shouldn’t be a problem. 

A final note: the thumb and pointer finger sport conductive synthetic leather so that you can check your GPS or take a pic without taking off your gloves. In fact, one of our testers was wielding a DSLR throughout the trip and would regularly shoot on-the-go pics with his gloves on — that is, if they weren’t covered in mud. 

Tester Comment: “A bit more padding would be appreciated when stepping up to bigger terrain, but for most cross-country riding or bikepacking this minimal package is perfect.”

Best For: Cross-country riding, any MTB pursuit in sweltering temps

The Summit Gloves

Pearl Izumi Summit Gloves Starting at: $18.69

Slightly more expensive than the lightweight Divide, the Summit mountain bike gloves offer riders a bit more padding and are more attuned for the needs of aggressive cross-country and everyday Enduro riders. Neoprene protects the knuckles, though it isn’t as breathable as the Divide’s breezy mesh membrane. An inconspicuous Velcro wrist strap gives you breathing room on the uphill and allows you to cinch it tight when it’s time to send the technical sections. Pearl Izumi recommends you don’t ride with the Summit in temperatures above 80 degrees, and we might even slash off another five or ten, especially if you’re prone to sweat or you don’t rely on shuttles or ski lifts to take care of your dirty work. 

Tester Comment: “These gloves can take a beating. Given what they’ve been through already, I’d expect them to show some wear and tear, but they look brand new. Well, a bit of mud here and there, but that’s to be expected.”

Best For: Enduro, mellow DH, and riding in colder temperature

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