A few weeks ago, a special delivery arrived at my front door containing some items from Pearl Izumi. A discerning shopper, I have been carefully evaluating it all ever since. So if you're thinking about updating your cycling wardrobe, I can say with authority that Pearl Izumi is a great place to look. Here's why:
On the "Canyon" Shorts (pictured in "Silt")
Pearl Izumi calls these their "Go anywhere, do anything" shorts and it's true — they're flexible as all get out. On the outside, they look like a nicely fit short that casually goes from commute to trail ride. On the inside, there is a removable chamois-short that makes them oh-so-comfy (it's the same "3D" chamois technology as the Symphony shorts reviewed below, so read on!). But the best part? When it's time for the chamois to hit the laundry pile, I can easily just throw on my Symphony shorts or another chamois-short and keep the outside layer going. This is important stuff because I wear them almost every day, now that there are mountain bike trails between me and the office. I feel a lot better about showing up in this kit rather than full-on spandex. The one thing I would change? A little zipper or velcro on one of the pockets. Then again, the fabric is so soft and silky and hangs so nicely, I'd worry that bulking up the pockets would interfere with a really nice athletic fit. So jury's out on that. (Photo: amazing limited edition graphics on LTD MTB Jersey and adjustable waistband on the Canyon Shorts)
On the LTD MTB Jersey (pictured in "Peacock")
Besides featuring limited edition graphics, this jersey has a lot going for it. First of all, full-zip. Yes. All jerseys should be full zip IMHO. Next it's got a great lightweight feel to it, and the waist is free-moving enough that it doesn't get bunched up around your middle. It looks great fully-zipped, which is a must during gnat season and hey, it even matches my backpack! (Photo, clockwise from top: Super comfy "3D" technology on the Canyon Shorts chamois liner; Me outside my office, going from singletrack to city ... and back again ... showing off my LTD MTB Jersey and Canyon Shorts; handy snaps to keep the liner and outer-shell of the Canyon shorts moving in sync.)
The chamois and trim are bright orange, making them easy to spot in an overflowing cycling shorts drawer. Important, because if they're in the clean pile, they're the ones I'm reaching for. I've worn these shorts a lot in the month+ I've had them and the chamois is one of the best I've enjoyed, ever. It's as supple as they day I took them out of the box, and it wicks sweat away as promised so it's very comfortable to ride whether it's 30 minutes to work, or 3 hours out on the trails. The grips on the cuffs are great — I've had grips that actually cut into my leg (you know what i'm talking about) but these ones have nice round grippers (they remind me of the stoppers on cabinet doors to keep them from slamming) that I hardly notice at all while they keep my shorts firmly in place. Although not a functional feature in any way, I love that they're grey on the inside, while black on the outside ... attention to detail is always well-received, and a sign that Pearl Izumi is on it. Length is also good; not too short, not too long. There are a TON Of colourways available too which makes these fun to stock up on.
On the "Transfer Lite Racer-Back Baselayer" (in the picture above ... but you can't see it)
I also picked up a great racer back undershirt for these early season rides that has already come in handy more than once. Sometimes you need that "just enough" layer to keep you going and Pearl's is the most comfy I've tried. The neck even comes up high enough to keep those spring gnats out of your sports bra. And that's a huge plus. (gross. gnats.) And the tail is long enough you don't get mid-section bunching. Very sleek.
So ... if like me, you find yourself in a cycling wardrobe update year, I highly recommend the offerings from Pearl Izumi. You can get it at many fine Toronto retailers or enter your postal code to find a shop near you.