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Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit Review

A solid bet if you’re looking for a longer short that is made of comfortable, wicking fabric and that will last for nearly forever, but there are better chamois options for about the same price
Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit
Photo: Pearl Izumi
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Price:  $130 List | $120.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Wicking, highly durable, compression short with color accents
Cons:  2D chamois, no frills
Manufacturer:   Pearl Izumi
By Rebecca Eckland ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 20, 2018
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 6
  • Padding and Protection - 25% 5
  • Breathability and Fabric - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Style - 10% 6

Our Verdict

There is something to be said for presence: Pearl Izumi is one of the long-standing, recognized brands of cycling shorts. Our testers found this to be true for the Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit as well; solidly made, sturdy and dependable. This short is, in the words of one reviewer a "Goldilocks" short — good for short rides, long rides and everything in between. But, like Goldilocks, the short is not too hot, not too cold, settling into the middle ground somewhere. It's a dependable short, but not as stellar as our award winners.

Updated Colors

Pearl Izumi now offers the Elite Pursuit LTD, which boasts limited edition graphics. Though these shorts have a different color scheme now, the design and materials remain the same.

May 2020

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $120.00 at Amazon$54.33 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$130 List$124.95 at REI
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$50.00 at Backcountry
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Pros Wicking, highly durable, compression short with color accentsLightweight, comfortable, highly breathable short, great priceUnique halter-bib, colorful patterns and designs, attractive look and fitComfortable, casual vibe, long lengthGreat fit, fun pattern on the short, super cute
Cons 2D chamois, no frillsNot the most flattering short, 7" inseam too short for taller ridersCompact chamois, short inseamExtra loose, side pockets, fabric shows wearBelow-average chamois, shorter waist, not comfortable on longer efforts
Bottom Line A solid bet if you’re looking for a longer short that is made of comfortable, wicking fabric and that will last for nearly forever, but there are better chamois options for about the same priceHigh-quality but reasonably priced, if you're looking for a high performer that doesn't break the bank, this pair deliversThis bib's unique design offers both fun style and functional performanceIf your daily routine involves a bike ride, a yoga class, and meeting friends or clients for lunch, then this might be your shortA great-looking short that left us wanting more from its performance
Rating Categories Pearl Izumi Elite P... Louis Garneau Optimum SheBeest Petunia Bib Terry Bicycles Hi-R... Pearl Izumi Escape...
Comfort And Fit (30%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
Padding And Protection (25%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Breathability And Fabric (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Durability (15%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
9.0
Style (10%)
6.0
7.0
10.0
5.0
8.0
Specs Pearl Izumi Elite P... Louis Garneau Optimum SheBeest Petunia Bib Terry Bicycles Hi-R... Pearl Izumi Escape...
Main Fabric 66% nylon, 34% elastane Signature Mat, Quantum, Mesh 80% polyester, 20% spandex 77% nylon, 33% spandex 88% nylon, 12% elastane
Inseam Measurement 9.0 in 7.0 in 8.0 in 9.0 in 8.5 in
Number of panels 6 panels 10 panels 6 panels 6 panels 6 panels
Chamois women's elite pursuit 1:1 AirSport Women's Shelastic 2.0 Standard Standard
Weight (in ounces), size Medium 5.7 oz 4.6 oz 5.6 oz 7.0 oz 4.4 oz
Fit Type Form-fitting Form-fitting Form-fitting Form-fitting Form-fitting
Other Features In-R-Cool fabric is cooling and has UPF rating to 50+ Three different fabrics, stash pockets, flat-lock seams bib design with halter strap for easy lowering Wide, high rise waist for comfort and support Wide, elastic free waistband, silicone leg grippers

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


We tested these Pearl Izumis, and all the shorts reviewed, in the...
We tested these Pearl Izumis, and all the shorts reviewed, in the most extreme conditions: heat, cold, rain, and blistering sun to find the absolute best in women's cycling shorts.
Photo: Rich Staley

Comfort & Fit


The Elite Pursuit is a solidly made short with reinforced seams that fits a cyclist like a glove. From the well-made six-panel design, the wide waistband and the longer length, there's no denying this is a quality short. The long legs offer compression, and the colored/reflective strips provide for visibility in low-light conditions.


The wide waistband tames the tummy, keeping it securely fastened for the duration of the ride. Wide silicone bands around the thighs keep the shorts in place, while the extra width keeps the shorts from "squeezing" and preventing the "sausage thigh" look.


Padding & Protection


There are two basic rules when it comes to determining whether or not your short's chamois is worth the salt you are going to sweat all over it: 1) the amount of padding it provides, and 2) its ability to bounce back after a tough pounding (a.k.a.: your ride). While the chamois is certainly thicker than some shorts in this review, it's also the Achilles Heel of this otherwise excellent short.


While one would expect the orange chamois to have a contoured landscape—thicker below the sit bones and thinner elsewhere, the Elite Pursuit's chamois is as mountainous as Kansas. Because of this, the chamois doesn't "move" with the rider, but tends to bunch awkwardly.


That's not to say it's downright awful: the short does fine for rides under two hours. Once the miles start to accumulate, though, the chamois bunches and becomes quite uncomfortable. The short is protective in other, important ways: high-visibility reflective strips add much-needed safety on early-morning or evening rides, and SPF 50 protection keeps your thighs from getting fried.

Breathability/Fabric


Our testers appreciated the nylon lycra blend that offers swift wicking and quick-drying responsiveness. It wicks away sweat with ease, keeping you nice and dry, even on a hot, summer day. In the soak-test, the Elite Pursuit stood its ground against other shorts included in this review. The short performed among the top 30% of shorts we tested.


Durability


Not too tight, not too smooth, not too cheap: Pearl Izumi offers comfort and compression that will last you for your cycling life. We were incredibly impressed with the warranty policy that will keep your shorts in tip-top condition for years after you purchase them. Pearl Izumi offers a lifetime guarantee on their shorts for anything other than road rash. These shorts are sure to be your go-to short if you want a short that will probably last longer than you will.

The inner thighs already began to see some wear after 2.5 months of...
The inner thighs already began to see some wear after 2.5 months of testing. This could be problematic for the short.

Style


If you want more than basic black, Pearl Izumi offers you several options to coordinate your cycling kit. We also appreciate that Pearl Izumi offers cyclists more than just one option: in addition to basic black, stripes down the side of each leg comes in a small variety of colors.


Best Applications


This is the short that can handle day-in, day-out training. From short rides to longish rides, the Elite Pursuit has you covered. We wouldn't recommend taking this short on 100+ mile rides, however, due to the chamois which, after several hours, starts to slouch.

Value


We expected something more out of the short. It's good, but with better performers costing similar or even less, it's hard to say the Elite Pursuit brings excellent value to the table.

Cycling shorts enable you to go to all sorts of amazing places -...
Cycling shorts enable you to go to all sorts of amazing places - everywhere from mountaintops to your local coffeehouse. Pictured left: Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 7.5. and right, the Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit.
Photo: Rich Staley

Conclusion


We like it, but we feel we should have gotten more from the Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit considering its price range. This is by no means a bad short, however, and some riders may appreciate the longer length of the legs, the color options down the side of each leg and the excellent customer service/warranty policy offered by Pearl Izumi.

Rebecca Eckland