It’s possible Pearl Izumi has been reading my diary. It’s like they know exactly what I want in a bib short: laser-cut bib straps that lay flat against my shoulders and essentially disappear; soft material throughout that’s compressive without pinching; and a chamois that straddles the line between all-day thick and race-cut sleek. Nailed it, nailed it, nailed it. These new PRO Bib shorts hit store shelves in mid-February.
Laser-cut material can be a bit of a pro-con balance: The straps lay flat and essentially disappear, which creates the double benefit of being exceptionally comfortable and looking cool. But they do have a tendency to roll up over time, which doesn’t look so cool and is antithetical to comfort.
These shorts have remained flat, no rolling whatsoever, which means they’ve been supremely comfortable consistently. That’s in part due to the silicone leg grippers that keep the hem of the leg openings firmly in place. It’s an excellent combo, and while silicone does tend to yank on leg hairs occasionally, the stability is well worth it.
Pearl’s Italian PRO Transfer fabric feels awesome against the skin. It’s super soft and just compressive enough to remind you you’re wearing performance bibs. But it doesn’t pinch anywhere, which could be due in part to the seven-panel design. These aren’t the most compressive bibs out there, so if you’re after super sausage casing, these aren’t it. But if I’ve got long hours in the saddle ahead, my priorities are soft feel and lay-flat everything.
Judging chamois often becomes a matter of determining whether it’s thick or thin. This errs toward thick, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re out of the saddle. It also feels as though it’s sewn in the correct place, which is surprisingly an issue with many bib shorts. The PRO bib chamois is wisely devoid of excess seams. It’s positioned where it should be, and it’s thick enough for long hours on a firm saddle.
Pearl has vacillated between overly conservative and gaudy when it comes to colors. These blue bibs won’t exactly wow you with a fresh look, but they match plenty of jersey colors and won’t make your buddies squirm while they ride next to you on the group ride. It’s a step up from plain black, anyway.
Plus, these bibs tick the most important box of all: You won’t think about them while you’re riding. That’s a testament to a smart design that combines exceptional comfort and simple, straightforward construction. They aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every penny.