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Pearl Izumi Quest Review

It’s hard to find a better pair of starter shorts for the price
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $50 List | $50.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very affordable, low chafe, tough material, supportive
Cons:  Lose comfort after a few hours, waist slips down, can be loose for some riders
Manufacturer:   Pearl Izumi
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 12, 2020
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#11 of 11
  • Padding and Protection - 25% 6
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 6
  • Breathability - 15% 6
  • Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness - 15% 6
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Style - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The PEARL iZUMi Quest Shorts combine a handful of high-performance features to come up with a nice pair of sensible bike shorts at a really accessible price-point. This is why they earned our Best on a Tight Budget Buy. You won't be riding any of the big European tours in them, but they'll get you on the road and in the saddle in comfort. They're ideal for commuters and riders just getting in the sport and realizing riding without padded shorts is a real PITA. Still, you'll get a good deal of support, moisture management, and cushion beneath the sit-upon.

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Our Analysis and Test Results

When we test bike shorts, we keep an eye to the best use for each pair we put on. Not all shorts are going to knock it out in each category, and not all shorts are for every rider. The Pearl iZUMi Escape Quest bike shorts are really meant for commuters and riders new to the sport. We spend the rest of this review looking at their performance across a handful of our performance measures, sussing out where they best perform and areas to watch out for.

Performance Comparison

The Quest shorts might not be top of the line  but they'll get you in the saddle and get the job done without crushing your bank account.
The Quest shorts might not be top of the line, but they'll get you in the saddle and get the job done without crushing your bank account.

Padding and Protection

The Quest shorts use a blended thickness SELECT Escape 1:1 Chamois. It has the greatest thickness in the areas it should, centered beneath the ischium. It has moderate thickness under the perineum, and it all tapers off toward edges. The effect is a moderately comfortable pad.

Some riders feel that it's a wee bit too thick, giving that brick feeling that can sometimes happen with excessively dense or thick padding. It can bunch up a bit as well. Hard-assed as we are, we're not impervious to this effect. We also found that the pain set in after an hour or so. That's one of the reasons we suggest that these shorts are best suited to riders just getting into the sport, putting in less than an hour or 90-minutes per ride. Commuters should be fine.

That's a whole lot of padding. Maybe a little too much...
That's a whole lot of padding. Maybe a little too much...

Comfort and Fit

One of the things we like about the chamois is that even though it can bunch up some, it tapers off at varies its thickness to limit chafing.

Its 6-panel design moves really well with the body. The material is heavy on the nylon side, giving it a strong, supportive feel that we think most riders will appreciate. It also helps the shorts stay on your body without having to squeeze the life out of you with a punishing waistband.

The waistband could use a little more work  but it's not a dealbreaker.
The waistband could use a little more work, but it's not a dealbreaker.

If anything, it could use a little more waistband. Like most shorts, it tends to suffer from slippage at the waist, but that's a difficult problem to overcome in shorts-only as a genre. If you want to solve that, you'll need to bite the bullet and grab a pair of bib shorts - and expect to shell out a little more cash.

The last area to look at for the Escape Quest shorts is the leg gripper. They use a good silicone design along their hem that doesn't seem to squeeze or chafe a whole lot. You don't see much slippage In our view, they're just fine if you're on a budget and need to get into something. If you have the extra cash and can splurge though, you might find some of the higher-end bib shorts to be a better choice.

The grippers could also use a little fortification.
The grippers could also use a little fortification.


These shorts do a fair job of moisture management. You get a little breeze in the thighs, though the fabric seems to hold onto sweat a little more than you'd expect with their SELECT Transfer fabric. You get something a little better than average with these shorts. They're better than cotton shorts, of course, but they're not at the level of some of the premium shorts.

The chamois also holds a lot of moisture. You don't get it too bad when you're riding, but after you've washed your shorts and they're drying, the pad takes a lot longer to dry, which means there's more time for bacteria to colonize, so be careful. Make sure to use anti-bacterials and maybe even sin a little by using a dryer on low heat.

The thin SELECT fabric should transfer just a little more moisture than it does.
The thin SELECT fabric should transfer just a little more moisture than it does.

Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness

The 6-panels keep you nice and flexible while the nylon-heavy fabric feel supportive and efficient. The overall feel of pedaling in the shorts is good, very free, and natural without major concerns of anything slipping too seriously. We mentioned the waistband, but that's going to be a general concern with any shorts. The more in and out of the saddle, the more waist slippage you'll get.

The only real complaint we have here is that the chamois is just a little too wide. The SELECT Escape 1:1 Chamois surely does seem to limit chafing, but that doesn't help the saggy diaper feel with the overly supple padding. It can bunch and tends to rub on itself a little more than is ideal. Again, not a deal-breaker, but when the rides start to move north of the 90-minute range, you'll notice it.

These shorts bunch up a bit  which is partly owing to the loose cuffs.
These shorts bunch up a bit, which is partly owing to the loose cuffs.


The Escape Quest bike shorts are comprised of 88% nylon and 12% elastane. With all that nylon, you can expect shorts that are tough as hell. That's another reason we're enthused about them. They're going to be able to put up with some abuse.

The only area we found with a degree of concern was the padding. The chamois tends to hold moisture and doesn't seem to have any special anti-bacterial treatment or top-sheet like a lot of the premium shorts. This means that if you let it sit in some dark or damp place to air dry, it's probably going to have a lot of bacteria growing that oughtn't be there if you want to continue having good rides and limited BO emanating from your riding shorts.


In the words of Jimmy Kimmel's Cousin Sal, "You get what you get, and you don't complain." In our view, the Quest Escapes have something like average appeal. It's not necessarily appeal, but we'll mention that the shorts have a few BioViz™ reflective elements. But hey, being seen in the dark, is its own sort of style. You get a little patterning along one of the side panels to mix it up, but it's not especially visible. They're a bit long on the thigh, so if you're trying to show off the ol' vastus, you'll need to hike them up a bit, which bunches the fabric up somewhere along the line, most likely up to the crotch.


The Quest shorts are some of the most affordable shorts on the market. If you're just trying to get into a pair of shorts while starting out or need something for quick commutes, you'll find them to be well worth it. If you're doing lots of miles, you might want to look at your budget again and invest a little more.


Having spent a good deal of time in the saddle out on the road and on the trainer, we're happy calling the PEARL iZUMi Quest shorts our Best on a Tight Budget Buy. A good deal of research went into this decision as well. We found a handful of complaints and kept them in mind as we went through our testing, and in fact, we did find that the shorts weren't the best on the planet for doing long rides. That's another reason we suggest that these bike shorts are best for price-conscious commuters or riders just starting out who are doing 15 or 20 miles here and there. Maybe the occasional 30-mile ride. The padding is just not quite there for the long rides. In our view, if you're going to be doing lots of riding, especially long rides, you ought to invest in your bum and the related morale, but in a budgetary pinch, these are going to be a top option for low-cost shorts to get you on the bike in some degree of comfort which may or may not start to drop off after an hour or 90-minutes.

They're not century shorts  but riders on a tight budget looking to get in 60 or 90 minutes at a time ought to give the Quest a hard look.
They're not century shorts, but riders on a tight budget looking to get in 60 or 90 minutes at a time ought to give the Quest a hard look.

Ryan Baham