IMHO bib tops are one of the top advances in cycling over the past 50 years, right up there with all the technical improvements in bicycles. Compared to the old drawstring shorts, bib tops allow much fuller breathing and are more comfortable to boot. I haven't done a comprehensive comparison, but these PI's are definitely extremely comfortable. In particular PI's chamois is so comfortable that I don't bother with gel saddles or even chamois cream (so far at least). And the uppers are great, even on hot summer days. I prefer the all-black version I got a couple of pairs with the neon bands at the bottom of the legs and the neon color seemed to fade a bit with washing.
These are great bibs. Pearl Izumi hits the sweet spot between technology, fit, price and quality. You can spend a fortune on bibs, and I have, but the incremental performance and quality improvements just don't justify the added cost. Even the high-end Pearl Izumi bibs aren't worth it. These are the perfect compromise on all criteria.
These bibs seem to fit just right. I'm a guy that is not an elite racer. Rather my BMI is in the healthy range. These bibs give just the right amount of compression to be 'all-day' comfortable.
The best way to measure life of bibs is the number of washings they endure. These seem to be just fine in that regard. However, I learned long ago that cool water temperatures and air drying extend the life considerably.
I recently picked up the Pearl Izumi Elite bibs (PI) on Gold Express Deal, and would like to compare them against a direct competitor that I've been riding for about 3.5 years, Louis Garneau Neo Power (LG). I am 6'4', 210 pounds and I have XL sizes of each.
Material: The PI are made of a shiny, slippery, and slightly thinner spandex compared to the high compression, matte finish LG. At first I viewed this as a potential downside, as the shiny, slippery stuff makes its way into low end cycling apparel. But after a long hot ride, I feel that it breaths better and may be less prone to rubbing.
Design and Fit: The PI are slightly larger than the LG in XL. LG uses the same material for the bib portion straps as the rest of the of the piece, and these straps have to be stretched into place over my shoulders: Very nice snug, compression fit. The PI by comparison use a very light mesh for the bib straps that could fit a man with a much longer torso than me. They aren't loose over my shoulders, but they aren't nearly as tight as the LG. I was concerned with the potential for the PI not staying in place, but this turned about to be unfounded. Plus, the PI straps breath better. Overall though, initial quality impression was better for LG.
Chamois Pad/Comfort: LG changed their chamois from my first (and favorite) pair of Neo Power Bibs to my second and third pair. I feel I like each pair slightly less. My newest LG Neo Power rub in a particular area and can be very uncomfortable. I just finished a 84 mile ride in the PI and both initial comfort and comfort on the 84th mile were significantly better than LG for me. Both LG and PI pads seem to be about same thickness (if not LG sl thicker/more diaper like), but I feel the PI may have larger surface area and be wider at the thinnest point between the legs. Win for PI here for my sit bone and saddle combination.
Conclusion: Both are excellent. Get whichever is on sale! I am tempted to try the top-line Pro PI now.
I have been a huge fan of PI stuff for twenty-plus years now. My only quibble has been some inconsistency in sizing in recent years, as PI started upsizing stuff for us fatter Americans. Thus, I have had to return some XL jerseys for Large, however, on shorts, bibs, knicks, and tights I have stuck with XLs with good success.
Recently I retired two pair of bibs that I have had for probably ten years-and one only because an errant saddle bag strap wore a hole in the inner thigh! I replaced them with one pair of the new PROs and one of these Elites. I wanted to see if the PROs were worth the 30% premium over the workhorse Elite models.
Sizing-wise, both pair of XLs fit my 6'! 182lb frame well. Though I am blessed with a 32 waist, I do have large glutesupper thighs, which has always necessitated I go XL but then run the risk of a looser waist or less compression in the thighs. That was not the case with either here. Both provided firm and comfortable compression with no excess material evident anywhere. I will say that the PRO might run just a tad smaller, which is exactly what I was once told by an inside rep at PI.
Regarding finish, the PRO clearly has a more refined look with smoother and flatter seams and a few more panels used in its construction. I cannot say that I discerned any difference in the feel of the fit as a result of this, however.
Finally, the pad in the PRO felt a bit firmer and, well, a bit more pro. But for my typical two-to-three-hours-max ride, the Elite pad held up well and was consistent with other brands I have tried. If you're a long-distance rider, you may find the slightly firmer PRO ride an advantage.
Summing it up, the PRO model is clearly a step up above the Elite but for a fairly significant premium. If you are more value-conscious and are not a typical four-hour-plus rider, you will likely be happy with the cheaper Elites. But if you are one whose ego demands having PRO on your logos, and you are a high-mileage rider, you will likely find the additional premium over the Elite worth it.
Needed a new pair of bib shorts this spring, and went for these because of generally good experiences with Pearl Izumi shorts (and a little color to match my bike and a couple of jerseys, I admit). Fit is good. Comfort was good over a few rides, one century. Price was good on sale.
I upgraded some older Pearl Izumi shorts for these and am really pleased I did. They do feel cool on the legs and the chamois is really, really good. My one minor thing is that they do run small. I'm 5ft8, 145lb and the large feels pretty snug. The length is also short, so if you like shorts to go close to your knees, these are not for you. For sure, order a size up.
The Elite In-R-cool bib fits well and the pad is great. I have a year old bib (same model) and they hold up well. With pricing hitting $200 on some bibs, this one is priced right, so I give it high marks for value. I would recommend this bib to purchase.
The short is comfortable however i have noticed that the material in the thigh area of each leg has thinned out. The issue with that is that i do not wear them that often.I would say less than 8 times. So i was dismayed to see that the wear is excessive for the times worn. The shorts were washed with other shorts that did not show this kind of wear. So, personally I would not buy this bib short again.
For years, I wore higher end Pearl Izumi shorts. I never understood the whole bib thing - more material, more expensive. Well, so many of my friends swore by them, I thought I would give them a try. They are fantastic. No more hoisting up the edges of my shorts as the waistband creeps down. The bibs give me a nice tucked in feeling all around. And with a jersey over the top, no one knows you look like a WWE guy from the 80s. The only drawback would be needing a bathroom break...I have yet to tackle that task, but I imagine it will involve getting mostly stripped!!
This is my 5th pair of Pearl Izumi shorts but my first pair of bibs. I find they are comfortable and wear well, but the obvious unspoken secret is they are a total pain to use the facilities in. Especially when you're sweaty with a pull over jersey.
On any morning ride over about 40 miles I usually need to go and I find I'm reaching for my shorts not my bibs.