Hands-on Gear Review

Pearl Izumi Canyon Review

Pearl Izumi Canyon
Price:  $85 List | $85.00 at REI
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Pros:  Lightest weight short and liner combo in the review, Velcro waist adjustment
Cons:  Liner doesn't fully separate, only one pocket
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Shell Fabric:  Transfer Dry
Lining Main Fabric:  Mesh
Chamois:  Foam
Manufacturer:   Pearl Izumi

Our Verdict

Pearl Izumi touts the Canyon short as an alternative to wearing form-fitting lycra shorts, and it is the lightest weight short and liner combo in our review with a simple design. We found the Canyon to be one of the better shorts we tested for pure pedaling, as its lightweight and minimal design didn't hamper our efforts on the bike.

The Canyon is a bit short on pockets with only one zippered hand pocket on the right and no matching pocket on the left.

The Canyon's liner short is constructed from mesh and is connected to the outer short by a strip of the same mesh in the rear portion of the waistband. This feature is unique to the Canyon out of the shorts we reviewed. Unfortunately, it eliminates the ability to wear the two pieces on their own. The strip of mesh could easily be cut with a pair of scissors, but we didn't like the idea of cutting a brand new short.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Luke Lydiard

Last Updated:
Saturday
September 5, 2015

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The Pearl Izumi Canyon consists of a lightweight outer short and a permanently attached mesh liner short. The foam chamois is on the thin side, but the ability of the inner short to "float" against the outer short allow the chamois to be correctly positioned. This short has one zip pocket and hidden velcro waist adjusters which make for a sleek appearance that can take the place of tight Lycra bike shorts.

Performance Comparison


The Pearl Izumi Canyon  along with the Dakine Boundary  is one of the most pedal-friendly short in our review.
The Pearl Izumi Canyon, along with the Dakine Boundary, is one of the most pedal-friendly short in our review.

Style


The Canyon has clean, smooth styling. It reminds us most of a pair of simple board shorts. It's quite obviously a short designed for a purpose, and doesn't have any bells or whistles or any extra flair. The only thing that takes away from its looks are the adjustable velcro tabs at the waist that will most likely be hidden under a jersey. Pearl Izumi could have placed this adjustment mechanism inside of the short rather than on the outside, which would have given it a slightly more polished look.

Since the chamois doesn't fully separate from the outer short, we found it unlikely that we would wear this short for anything except for time on the bike. The Canyon's chamois serves a purpose, but we can't imagine wanting to wear one off the bike. So unless you plan on modifying the short by cutting out the mesh strip that allows the liner to "float," we recommend that the Canyon short be worn for biking only. If you are looking for a short that can be worn on the bike and then converted into an everyday around town short, consider the Fox Ranger which has separating liner and a casual style.

Durability


We found the Canyon to be plenty durable during our tests. No bells and whistles means no bells and whistles to break. The snap which connects the waist kept snapping and the zipper fly and one zippered pocket kept zipping.

This short is made from a lightweight two-way stretch fabric called Transfer Dry, which we found to be one of the lightest outer short materials in our review. The Transfer Dry never pilled or showed signs of wear. The liner is made from a lighter mesh which might be prone to snagging if it weren't concealed beneath the outer short.

Features


The best feature of the Pearl Izumi Canyon short is its adjustable waistband. Waist adjustment is made with bilateral velcro tabs on the rear of the short which are connected to a strip of elastic hidden in the center of the waistband. This system is similar to a few of the other shorts in our review, and works well to keep the shorts in place without needing a belt or drawstring. We would have preferred that Pearl Izumi placed these velcro and elastic belts on the inside of the short, which would add style points and also prevent them from getting snagged on jerseys. Being on the outside of the short does allow for on-the-fly waist adjustment, but we found that typically we adjusted them once and were done with it.

The waist can be adjusted using velcro tabs attached to elastic on either side of the waist band.
The waist can be adjusted using velcro tabs attached to elastic on either side of the waist band.

Pockets are another feature that we like to have in our trail riding shorts. Unfortunately, the Canyon comes up a bit short in this category with just one right hand zippered pocket. While the one pocket is made from mesh and secured tightly with a zipper, we found it odd that Pearl Izumi didn't place another pocket on the left side.

The Canyon has well articulated bike specific fit  making it great for long days of XC riding.
The Canyon has well articulated bike specific fit, making it great for long days of XC riding.

The liner of the Canyon is made from mesh rather than a lycra type material, and we found that it breathed well in hotter temps. The rear of the liner is fixed to the rear of the outer short by a strip of the same mesh, which allows the liner to be pulled up without hiking up the outer short. The legs openings of the liner are not secured with silicone but rather just tight elastic. We found the elastic to be just slightly too tight compared to the rest of the short.

Comfort


Pearl Izumi's 3D Tour Chamois is one of the least padded chamois in our review.
Pearl Izumi's 3D Tour Chamois is one of the least padded chamois in our review.
The Canyon is equipped with Pearl Izumi's 3D Tour Chamois. This chamois is made from foam and has two different thickness areas: most are very thin with thicker foam beneath the sit bones. The 3D Tour Chamois was one of the least padded and most basic in our review. Though the chamois lacks padding, we did find that we were able to position the chamois correctly due to the ability of the inner short to "float" against the outer short. Basically, this means that the inner short can be hiked up, pulling the chamois into position without pulling the outer short up to the navel. The strip of mesh which connects the liner with the outer short allows for about 3 inches of vertical adjustment between the two.

Protection


Mountain biking isn't an exact science, which means we all fall from time to time. The type of terrain you ride and what kind of skills you have dictates the frequency you spend sliding in the dirt. If you tend to find yourself on the ground frequently, this short isn't for you. We found that the qualities that make the Canyon efficient for pedaling mean that it wouldn't provide much protection in a crash. The inseam is short, and the lightweight material moves upward easily, which is good for range of motion but not for protecting your thigh in a crash.

The lightweight material and mesh liner are best suited for warm and hot rides rather than cold or rainy conditions. The Transfer Dry material from which the outer short is constructed is very breathable, but does not have much water resistance.

Fit/Pedal Friendliness


The Pearl Izumi Canyon is one of the best shorts in our review when it comes to pedal friendliness, largely do to the fabric from which the short is constructed. The outer short is made from Transfer Dry fabric which is a lightweight two-way stretch material. The outer short of the Canyon fit quite well, with a well articulated design allowing for a seated pedaling posture without too much binding in the back or bagginess in the front.

The inner liner short is made from mesh with six panels and a well-placed foam chamois. The legs of the liner are secured at the bottom by a mesh wrapped elastic band, which did not painfully grab like other shorts that use a silicone band to keep them in place.

If efficiency is your top priority in a short then we recommend the Dakine Boundary which is made from a very lightweight 4-way stretch material and has a very ergonomic cut. The Boundary is sold without a liner for $90.

Best Application


This short is most at home during cross-country marathons, pedaling mostly in the saddle, rides on warm and hot days, or for casual road riders looking to skip the Spandex. The short is too lightweight and lacking in protection for enduro or downhill riding.

Value


The Canyon is the least expensive shorts in our review to scored three of five possible stars. It retails for $105 less than the Sugoi RSX, which shares the same number of pockets and scored similarly in our pedal friendliness test.

Conclusion


The combination of a lightweight stretch fabric and a cycling specific cut make the Pearl Izumi Canyon one of the best pedaling shorts in our review. The semi-permanent liner is decent quality.

Luke Lydiard

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Most recent review: September 5, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
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3 star: 100%  (1)
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