Women’s Test Team: Women’s Bibshorts Review Part 1

Apparel Pro Review

Pearl Izumi Women’s Pro In-R-Cool

Sizes: XS to XL
Color: Black
MSRP: $175
More Info: Shop.PearlIzumi.com

What The Manufacturer Says

The Women’s P.R.O. In-R-Cool Bib Short is specifically tailored for women, featuring a closure that ensures bib straps stay comfortably in place and a unique separating center back strap for convenience when nature calls.

Other highlights include P.R.O. Transfer In-R-Cool fabric with coldblack that provides cooling and reflective sun protection, P.R.O. Transfer Dry fabric powered by Minerale that provides moisture transfer, dry time and odor absorption, P.R.O. Transfer with Minerale Direct-Vent bib, anatomic multi-panel design, silicone leg gripper, a W’s Anatomic P.R.O. Seamless 4D Chamois, convenient drop tail design, and reflective elements for low-light visibility.

Tester: Liz Barcheck (Size Tested: Medium)

Fit: The length was appropriate, not too long or short. The straps were the right length, and it was nice to have the option to change the length by changing the clasps in the back. This short fit a bit tight, it has a strip of tighter fabric around the base of the legs that was too tight and created a “sausage leg” effect, a common problem with shorts that have a strip of elastic at the bottom.

Function: The chamois fit appropriately and was comfortable for short and medium length rides. The strap was easy to use and has two clasps. I appreciated the one in the front because it allowed more freedom when needing to use the bathroom. The one in the back was nice to adjust the length of the straps. Both were comfortable and weren’t too bulky. Also the straps are thin and don’t cover the whole core which allows for better airflow.

Materials: I think for a short or medium length ride the material works, it is a bit heavier/thicker than a light fabric, which I think also makes it a bit more durable. I was wearing these shorts when I crashed on my mountain bike, and the fabric held up well, did not wear or rip. The seams on the inside do stick out a bit but I didn’t notice any chafing on my 3-plus hour ride.

Fashion: The shorts have a clean cut and the seams are flattering. But the sausage leg factor makes them not very attractive on me; eaner women may not have that problem.

Additional Comments: These shorts are pretty standard. There isn’t anything about them that make me terribly excited or annoyed. The best feature is the option to clasp in the front and back of the bibs.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Tester: Lisa Sumner (Size Tested: Medium)

Fit: The medium is a good fit in the short area, but the straps are long and loose even when the smallest setting on back clasp is used. This didn’t bother me when riding, but did make the bibs feel looser in the front when riding. The leg length is a nice mid-thigh length, but the leg bands were fairly tight. This caused a bulging of leg muscle/fat that’s not very flattering and it makes the short less comfortable.

Function: The chamois was well placed and was a good thickness on the back portion, but I found the front part to be slightly uncomfortable at times due to thickness and width. It was a bit too narrow for my body. There is a bra-like clasp on the back strap of the bib which allows for easier restroom breaks and it was adjustable (three sizes). However, I found it very difficult to re-clasp and eventually just took my jersey off to do it. Maybe with practice it would get easier. Also there is a buckle in the front to hold straps together and make them come up the middle of my chest, but I didn’t notice any difference whether I had it buckled or not.

Materials: The Lycra is a nice material, and breathed well. The seams did protrude onto my skin but besides the seam lines on my skin when I took the bib off, they didn’t bother me when riding.

Fashion: I like the subtle white seam line accents on the bib. There were also more diagonal seams which I think looks more flattering. Overall, the bib looks nice and I like the white accent of the seams, but the tight leg bands and long straps dropped my overall rating down.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Pearl Izumi Women’s Elite In-R-Cool

Sizes: XS to XL
Color: Black
MSRP: $145
More Info: www.PearlIzumi.com

What The Manufacturer Says

The Women’s ELITE cycling bib combines ELITE Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool with our new Women’s ELITE 3D Chamois for on-the-bike comfort and a unique convenient drop tail for when nature calls. The ELITE Transfer In-R-Cool fabric powered by coldblack provides superior cooling and reflective sun protection. Other highlights include anatomic multi-panel design, silicone leg gripper, reflective elements for low-light visibility, and a form fitting cut.

Tester: Kate Powlison (Size Tested: Small)

Fit: These bibs are skimpier than most, bordering on a tri short. Despite the small size, they still ride up and bunch — enough to start chafing shortly into a ride. My riding friend looked at me and said, “I can tell those shorts are uncomfortable just by looking at you.” Comfort aside, the short length will cause hesitation for anyone who doesn’t want the cellular structure of their rear upper thigh on display.

Function: These bibs aren’t comfortable and well-fitting enough to trust on a long ride. However, when I wore them under a pair of bib shorts on a mountain bike ride, the short length was less of a problem, and actually more of a benefit. I liked how the minimal length kept me cool and didn’t peek out from beneath my baggies.

The drop tail feature is intriguing. It makes taking care of business on the road slightly more efficient and discrete, but not significantly so. I would be more inclined to buy cold-weather bib tights with this feature, for when lowering bib straps means removing multiple layers.

Materials: The chamois, short, and strap fabrics all perform and look fine.

Fashion: Even for someone with short legs like me, these bibs run short.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

Tester: Elizabeth Train (Size Tested: Small)

Fit: I found them tight with excess fabric and too much stretch. For me, the beauty of bibs is that they don’t cut off crucial tummy circulation on long rides. But somehow, these bibs managed to do that.

Function: I’m not sold on the “drop tail” design. There’s all this droopy mesh material that sort of drapes all over your back, but is not actually attached to the back/top of the short. It just hangs there. This feature is supposed to enable one to pee without taking off the top portion, which it does, but not with any grace or ease. It’s very awkward.

Materials: The aforementioned mesh material is itchy and doesn’t seem that breathable, so I found myself uncomfortably hot in these bibs.

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5

Manufacturer Response

At Pearl Izumi we take women’s cycling apparel very seriously and strive to make the best performing gear at every price point. Obviously, we’re disappointed that the women testers did not have a better experience in our shorts.

In an effort to continue refining and developing women’s cycling apparel that truly speaks to what women are looking for – comfort, functionality and aesthetics – we used our test group of 90 women to get feedback on every style in the 2014 line, and made changes accordingly, before it went to production. It is clear that women often have very specific requests regarding inseam lengths, leg openings and waistbands, so the new line will include 16 different styles to offer female cyclists a variety of options to best suit their tastes and body type.

Additionally, both of the reviewed styles have been redesigned for the 2014 spring season and the new shorts will be in stores starting in January. Many of the specific comments made by the testers, such as leg gripper elastic, have been improved to resolve the issues they noted. We are committed to building the best cycling apparel for women and are continuously striving to bring innovations in material, fit and function to market.

Next: Assos T.Lady_S5 Bibshorts »
About the author: RoadBikeReview Womens Test Team

In order to better serve our readership, RoadBikeReview has launched a Women’s Test Team that’s tasked with reviewing gear and apparel made expressly for women. Our quartet of testers are all experienced cyclists, who each bring a unique set of perspectives and needs to the conversation. If you have questions for our testers or suggestions on gear you would like to see featured here, leave us a note in the comments section below or send an email to WomensTestTeam@roadbikereview.com.


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  • jay says:

    Don’t want to piss off Hincapie, he’ll rat you out.

  • Ashok Captain says:

    Greetings from India.
    I’m a guy, but ladies, a salute to all of you and roadbikereview for publishing such an honest review (instead of the usual ‘laterally stiff, but vertically compliant’ one usually reads).
    I have a bunch of women friends who cycle (racing to randonneuring) and will definitely send em this link.
    A review of women specific saddles (pl include Selle SMP, and the Selle Italia womens versions) with a mention of the testers sit-bone distance would definitely be worth doing.
    Happy, safe cycling,

    Ashok

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