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Pearl Izumi Quest Review

It’s hard to find a better pair of starter shorts for the price
Pearl Izumi Quest
Credit: Backcountry
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $55 List | $37.50 at Backcountry
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, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Padding and Protection - 25% 6.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 6.0
  • Breathability - 15% 6.0
  • Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness - 15% 6.0
  • Durability - 15% 6.0
  • Style - 10% 5.0

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 Buy Award for tight budgets. 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 can be a real pain. Still, you'll get a good deal of support, moisture management, and cushion beneath the sit-upon.

Editor’s Note: We’ve gone back and retested the Quest bike shorts to get our hands (and bottoms) on the updated Levitate chamois. Our findings are reflected in this May 12, 2022 update.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Very affordable, low chafe, tough material, supportiveComfortable, dries quickly and wicks away moisture on rides, reduces saddle chafe, affordableQuick-drying, supportive, comfortable variable density chamois, three chamois size options, two inseam length optionsAffordable, supportive, durable, breathableAffordable, lean, supportive, cool
Cons Lose comfort after a few hours, waist slips down, can be loose for some ridersPouch seams can chafe, threading might come undoneWaistline may feel uncomfortable, medium chamois may bunch, regular inseam may be long for some ridersLimited padding, fabric can be restrictivePadding may hold moisture, stitching may degrade, less comfort on long rides
Bottom Line It’s hard to find a better pair of starter shorts for the priceAwesome comfort and performance delivered at an easily accessible priceThe ideal meshing of performance, long-distance comfort, and reasonable affordabilityThese are the right shorts for quick, hard-hitting ridesOne of the all-around best performing road bike shorts for its price
Rating Categories Pearl Izumi Quest SUGOi Evolution Bibs Endura Pro SL Bib S... Gore Wear C5 Bib Castelli Competizio...
Padding and Protection (25%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Breathability (15%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness (15%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Durability (15%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Style (10%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Pearl Izumi Quest SUGOi Evolution Bibs Endura Pro SL Bib S... Gore Wear C5 Bib Castelli Competizio...
Main Fabric 80% recycled nylon, 20% spandex Evo Plus (polyester/spandex blend) Main: Elastane 22%, Nylon 78%. Trim: Elastane 20%, Nylon 25%, Polyester 55% 80% polyamide 20% elastane Affinity Pro Lycra
Inseam Measurement 9" 9" 11" 10" 10" (M)
Number of panels 6 8 11 5 7
Fit Type Short Bib Bib Bib Bib
Chamois Levitate RC Pro 700 Series PadEndura Yes KISS Air2
Weight 4.62 oz 7.08 oz 6.03 oz 6.42 oz 5.68 oz
Other Features BioViz reflective accents, silicone grips Compressive EvoPlus fabric, Powerband leg cuffs Silicone grips, 50 UPF rating, 2 leg length options available on manu site. Advanced Road insert with Windstopper Cup, reflective logo, flat hem Silicone grips, reflective details, flat-lock stitching, Vortex BLC textured fabric on legs

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 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 figuring out where they best perform and areas to watch out for.

Performance Comparison


Pearl Izumi Quest bike shorts - the quest shorts might not be top of the line, but they'll get you...
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.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Padding and Protection


The update Quest shorts use a new Levitate chamois pad from Pearl Izumi. This is the basic version of a more robust design included in Peral Izumi’s pro-level offerings. Whereas the premium pads include a handful of fancy innovations and a dual-density layering, the Quest’s pad uses a single foam layer. We wouldn’t call it luxurious, but it gets the job done.


The two design facets that it shares with the more expensive pro version are the Infinite Edge™ and Dynamic Relief Channel™. Both work to make the ride just a little nicer than the typical bike shorts in this range. The chamois pad edging tapers off into a smooth transition, reducing chafe - and it does a fine job of it. The other aspect is the channel, where they’ve removed material from the center of the pad to reduce ischial pressure. This is also really nice to see in shorts in this range. The typical design is to sew a slab of firm pillow into a pair of shorts and throw it on a sales rack, hotspots be damned.

That said, you can expect to have reasonably comfortable rides if you keep them around the hour mark. Once you get into the 90 or 120-minute range, you’ll likely wish you had some more cushioning. That makes them a great choice for commuting, spin, indoor trainer sessions, or Peloton rides.

Pearl Izumi Quest bike shorts - the updated quest shorts use pearl izumi's entry-level levitate...
The updated Quest shorts use Pearl Izumi's entry-level Levitate chamois.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Comfort and Fit


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.


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.

Pearl Izumi Quest bike shorts - the waistband could use a little more work, but it's not a...
The waistband could use a little more work, but it's not a dealbreaker.
Credit: Ryan Baham

The last area to look at for the Quest shorts is the leg gripper. The updated design covers much more area compared to the previous version. It’s a good deal more effective. 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.

Pearl Izumi Quest bike shorts - you don't get nearly the slippage in the updated version compared to...
You don't get nearly the slippage in the updated version compared to the older model.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Breathability


These shorts do a fair job of moisture management. You definitely 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, like its predecessor, the Levitate pad also takes a lot longer to dry after washing. That means there’s more time for bacteria to colonize, so be careful. Make sure to use anti-bacterial and maybe even sin a little by using a dryer on low heat.

Pearl Izumi Quest bike shorts - the thin select fabric should transfer just a little more moisture...
The thin SELECT fabric should transfer just a little more moisture than it does.
Credit: Ryan Baham

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 waist band, 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.


It’s worth noting here that the updated Levitate pad seems to fit the body a little nicer. We didn’t experience too much bunching and almost no chafing.

Pearl Izumi Quest bike shorts - given the amount and intensity of riding we did in these shorts...
Given the amount and intensity of riding we did in these shorts, we're pretty pleased with how they held up, even if they aren't pro-level shorts.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Durability


The 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 odor emanating from your riding shorts.

Style


In our view, the Quest shorts 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 quads, you’ll need to hike them up a bit, which bunches the fabric up somewhere along the line, most likely up to the crotch.

Pearl Izumi Quest bike shorts - the pearl izumis might not be beautiful or elegant like some of the...
The Pearl Izumis might not be beautiful or elegant like some of the top models, but it's hard to go wrong with solid black.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Value


The Pearl Izumi 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.

Conclusion


Having spent a good deal of time in the saddle out on the road and on the trainer, we’re happy calling the Peral Izumi Quest short our Best Buy on a tight budget. A good deal of research went into this decision as well, and we found 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.

Pearl Izumi Quest bike shorts - they're not century shorts, but riders on a tight budget looking to...
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.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Ryan Baham
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