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Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit Review

The Elite Pursuit is 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.
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Price:  $120 List | $59.83 at REI
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Wicking, highly durable, compression short
Cons:  2D chamois, no frills
Manufacturer:   Pearl Izumi
By Rebecca Eckland ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 20, 2018
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The Skinny

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. A dependable short, yes, but one that failed to knock our socks off.

We found the Elite Pursuit to provide great breathability and robust durability, but for overall performance, our testers resoundingly chose the more affordable Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 7.5. Besides saving you money, it also saves your backside on long rides and fits more comfortably on most riders.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Elite Pursuit short is like vanilla ice cream: a totally delicious food item that is often a staple at dessert time, but one that's tough to get excited about on its own. There are many things to praise about this pair, but it's nothing you wouldn't expect from a short that is well over $100.

Performance Comparison


We tested these Pearl Izumi's  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.
We tested these Pearl Izumi's, 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.

Comfort & Fit


Once you slip on the Elite Pursuit, 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 layers of padding it provides, and 2) its "memory." While the chamois is certainly thicker than other shorts in this review (the REI Co-Op Cycles 9" Short and Canari Pro Gel, most notably) the chamois is 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. Not only that, the chamois "slouches" as the miles accumulate, like a tire with a hole in it.


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, alongside the Shebeest Petunia Bib, the SUGOI RS Pro Bib and the Castelli Velocissima Bib.


Durability


Not too long, not too wild, not too cheap: Pearl Izumi dishes up a consistent, comfortable ride 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 testing. This could be problematic for the short.
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 can come 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. In that respect, it ranks close to the Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 7.5, the Castelli Free Aero, and the Castelli Velocissima Bib - all very competent products that will do the job they are designed to do. We wouldn't recommend taking this short on 100+ mile rides, however, due to the chamois which, after 4 hours, starts to slouch.


Value


For $120, 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 - everywhere from mountaintops to your local coffeehouse. Pictured left: Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 7.5. and right  the Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit.
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.

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