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Pearl Izumi Summit Shell Short Women's Review

A lightweight pair of mountain bike shorts that is best suited for short rides in warm weather
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Pearl Izumi Summit Shell Short Women's Review
Credit: Pearl Izumi
Price:  $100 List
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Manufacturer:   Pearl Izumi
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2022
  • Fit and Comfort - 30% 7.0
  • Pedal Friendliness - 30% 6.0
  • Protection - 20% 5.0
  • Pockets - 10% 8.0
  • Style - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

While not the ideal pair of shorts for longer rides in unpredictable weather, the Summit Short is incredibly lightweight and breathable. The one zippered pocket is big enough to hold a smartphone and some lip balm. At ten inches, this inseam will not overlap well with most knee pads, especially as the shorts tend to ride up while pedaling. Without any water resistance or ruggedness to protect from inclement weather or pokey branches, this model is best suited for short rides in warm weather and is cute enough to fit in at the food trucks after.
Fun pattern
Not waterproof
Ride up when pedaling
Short inseam

Our Analysis and Test Results

A super lightweight pair of shorts that are breathable and stretchy. They are not water-resistant but dry quickly making them ideal for rides in the heat. The relatively short inseam doesn't offer much protection from UV or trail hazards, but they would fit right in at the beach.

Performance Comparison

pearl izumi summit shell short women's - the pearl izumi summit short is lightweight and breathable.
The Pearl Izumi Summit Short is lightweight and breathable.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Fit and Comfort

If the Summit Short were just casual summer shorts, we wouldn't have any complaints about the fit. The sizing guide is spot on, the shorts fit as intended, but they don't seem cut for movement on the bike, especially on longer rides. We found the fabric gathers and binds in the thigh creases when peddling. The webbing belt pulls to tighten but only pulls from one side, meaning waist adjustment, if needed, will not be symmetrical. However, this style is offered in twice as many sizes as most mountain bike shorts, so finding a good fit that won't require a huge amount of adjusting with the belt should be easy. The fabric is super stretchy polyester and soft on the skin, making them comfortable for short rides.

pearl izumi summit shell short women's - the short inseam on the summit short doesn't offer a ton of...
The short inseam on the Summit Short doesn't offer a ton of protection from trail hazards but is fine for shorter rides.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Pedal Friendliness

The four-way stretch polyester moves well when riding and doesn't make any loud swishing sounds. The Summit does not have a gusseted crotch, however, and this means there are fewer ways for the fabric to move. We found that the legs ride up a lot, and tend to stay up rather than sliding back down, even when standing to pedal. This was especially noticeable on long climbs and was annoying enough that we kept pulling it down, not ideal when you want to focus on the trail instead of your shorts.

pearl izumi summit shell short women's - the summit short tends to ride up and stay up.
The Summit Short tends to ride up and stay up.
Credit: Laurel Hunter


With a 10-inch inseam, the Summit is one of the shorter lengths in our test and is really too short to work well with knee pads. It also provides much less protection from brush and UV rays. However, the greatest flaw for us is the complete lack of water resistance. Most mountain rides will have some chance of changing weather, and the Summit will leave you soaked in a rain shower. For shorter rides with a clear and warm forecast, however, the wind resistance may offer enough protection. And the lightweight fabric does dry quickly, should you encounter a brief shower.

pearl izumi summit shell short women's - the summit short is not at all water-resistant.
The Summit Short is not at all water-resistant.
Credit: Laurel Hunter


With five pockets, the Summit is pocket-positive! The zippered pocket on the right thigh is large enough to hold an iPhone or snacks and is the only one we would recommend putting things in while riding. This pocket is not tacked down and can flop around, but the cut of the shorts mostly held it in place. With a snug fit and top entry, the open hand pockets in the front are not the easiest to use, even for casual use. The two rear pockets are primarily decorative, though they do provide extra protection for your backside.

pearl izumi summit shell short women's - hand pockets in the summit short.
Hand pockets in the Summit Short.
Credit: Laurel Hunter


How could we not love multi-colored birds perched on bike chains? The fabric is fun and memorable without being gaudy. The webbing belt with a shiny aluminum hook adds a bit of style, as well. Overall, the Summit looks like lightweight, casual short that won't be out of place at the pub or cafe.

pearl izumi summit shell short women's - the aluminum buckle adds some flair but is limited in how much it...
The aluminum buckle adds some flair but is limited in how much it can adjust the fit around the waist.
Credit: Laurel Hunter


Falling in the middle of the price range of shorts in our test, but lacking in durability and protection that make them usable in a broad range of conditions, we don't feel these are the best value.


Pearl Izumi's Summit Shorts are cute and stylish shorts that lack the technical features and fit recommended for all-day mountain bike rides in mountain terrain. They are best for short rides or rides to the beach.

Laurel Hunter