2011 Pearl Izumi Apparel

by Brian Mullin on August 20, 2011

I have been riding with selections of Pearl Izumi’s 2011 mountain biking apparel, including the Veer and Rev jerseys, the Launch Kicker and Launch Plaid shorts, and the Launch gloves since early spring. I have found them to be comfortable, durable and feature laden, and their use of high-tech materials is at the forefront of athletic performance gear. The superb Veer jersey and uber comfy Launch Kicker shorts have been the highlight of the test period, followed closely by the others.

Veer Jersey
The Veer Jersey is the epitome of technical perfection for a mountain-bike jersey, and uses some incredible high-tech materials in a superb blend of synergy. The main body uses their Polyester P.R.O. Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool technology, with a UPF 50+ rating, and the mesh panels use a Polyester, and Spandex blends. Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. Transfer fabric is a high-wicking fabric that transports perspiration away from your skin to cool you and keeping your skin chafe-free. Pearl Izumi partnered with the textile giant Schoeller to create the In-R-Cool technology, which is applied as a finish to the dark material. In-R-Cool bounce’s UV radiation off the fabric rather than allowing it to absorb the energy as heat, keeping you cooler in the process. There are Direct-Vent mesh panels under the arms, and a large section on the upper back where a pack would reside, which gives extra ventilation and breathability. The jersey is cut with a semi-form fit, which is a nice compromise between loose, and racer tight. It has a moderately long 11.5 inch front zipper for ventilation, although I would prefer a 3/4 to full length one for maximum effectiveness. On the back of the hem, it has multiple elastic grippers to keep the jersey in place, and two small pocket sleeves behind the hips for snacks or tools.

Their P.R.O. Transfer fabric was pretty impressive, and it wicked moisture away, really keeping your body at an excellent humidity level, without a clammy feeling. I also liked to wear it with their transferring base layer, and it worked great as a team, even in extremely hot weather, working in perfect synergy for maximum comfort and wickability. The In-R-Cool finish works well, and with the black material, it keeps the heat off you, and you can feel the difference when you are out in the broiling sun. I liked the mesh panels, and the armpit ones offered great ventilation (mini air vents), and the upper back one worked in synergy with a pack, really keeping the sweat spot tolerable and minimal. The hem gripper section made the entire jersey stay put, and kept it from creeping up and minimized undue movement. Even though it had a semi-form fit, the material was stretchy enough that it never felt confining.

Tech Speak => Darker colors usually absorb more heat, but they’re more effective than lighter colors at blocking out the sun, which is damaging to the body. The In-R-Cool uses Schoeller’s Cold Black technology, which is a fabric coating that is a Sun reflector and UV protector, so it offers better heat management and reduces heat absorption. The mumbo jumbo actually works in the real world. They had a demo at Interbike in which a heat lamp was right next to a set of shorts that had this technology, and you could check the temperature (by touch and a digital gauge) at the fabric surface, and it was not hot.

Final Thoughts
The Veer Jersey is a supreme product, and the combination of the P.R.O. Transfer fabric with its In-R-Cool finish, and the Direct-Vent mesh panels, offer incredible comfort, ventilation and wickability, and it’s especially functional in warm and sunny conditions.

Pro

  • Comfortable
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • In-R-Cool technology
  • P.R.O. Transfer fabric
  • Mesh panels – side and upper back

Cons

  • Needs full length front zipper

 

Specs:

  • MSRP: $95.00
  • Pro Style no. 0707
  • P.R.O. Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool provides optimal skin cooling effect and moisture management when you perspire
  • Direct-Vent panels provide superior ventilation
  • 11 1/2″ zipper for venting
  • Elasticized gripper on back to keep hem in place
  • Two back pockets plus zippered sweat-proof pocket
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility
  • Semi-form fit
  • Body: 100% Polyester UPF 50+
  • Mesh: 84% Polyester / 16% Spandex
  • Technology: IceFil
  • Colors: Black/White, Green Flash/Shadow Gray

 

Launch Kicker Short
The two-piece Launch Kicker Shorts are comprised of an outer short made from a Nylon and Spandex blend that has a 4-way stretch, with a ultra long cut, and a removable inner chamois liner. The extra length works well and extends to just below the top of my knees, and they have two-hand pockets and two Velcro closed back pockets, and additional Velcro one on the lower left thigh, all of which have a small leather accent. The front closure uses Velcro, and a robust snap, and a nice long zipper for natures calls.

These are some incredibly comfortable shorts, and they stretch and undulate now matter how you are maneuvering around, and they allow unbelievable body contortions and movements without any binding. Due to the stretchiness, they can snag on the nose or rear of the saddle if you aren’t careful, and then you have to extract yourself, which can cause issues. I do wish it had a zippered pocket, since I think it’s a necessity to secure a valuable item that you don’t want to lose? The length is about perfect, it covers right over the top of a set of knee guards, but not any further so that they would bind on them.

For the waistbands size adjustment, it use a elastic interior strap system located on the back half of the waist. To tighten, you pull the elastic strap forward, and then insert a small button into the straps pre-cut slots, and the rear section scrunches. It isn’t the easiest system to use, and takes a few tries to figure out, but it works fine, and is solid once its set. The liner hangs from the shorts using a bombproof strap with a snap closure, and it’s an excellent system that is robust and easy to use. The superb inner chamois is incredibly comfortable and well padded, and mesh material is stretchy, breathable and wickable. The superb inner chamois is incredibly comfortable and well padded, and mesh material is stretchy, breathable and wickable. Their MTB 3D Chamois is very innovative and functional, and the three-layer, variable density padding is pre-shaped (curved and sculptured) for the nether regions, so nothing bunches up, maximizing comfort and shape.

Final Thoughts
The Launch Kicker Shorts are incredibly comfortable, and the 4-way stretch material is excellent for body maneuvering, and combined with the superb 3D Chamois liner, is Uber Comfy. On occasion, the stretchy material snags on the nose of the saddle, but the compromise for the additional comfort is well worth it.

Pros

  • Comfortable, comfortable, comfortable
  • Superb 3D Chamois liner
  • 4-way stretch material
  • Ultra long cut

Cons

  • Occasionally snags on the saddle nose
  • Lack of zippered pocket

 

Specs:

  • MSRP: $120.00
  • Pro Style no. 0278
  • Transfer stretch fabric
  • Snap and hook and loop front closure with zip fly
  • Adjustable interior waistband
  • Two hand pockets and two back pockets
  • Detachable liner with MTB 3D Chamois
  • 13″ inseam [size medium]
  • Body: 85% Nylon / 15% Spandex
  • Liner: 80% Polyester / 20% Lycra
  • Colors: Black, Coffee, Foothills Green

 

Launch Short – Plaid
The two-piece Launch Shorts are comprised of an outer short made from a Cotton and Polyester blend with an UPF 50+ rating, with a long cut, and a removable inner chamois liner. The extra length works well and extends to the top of my knees, and they have two-hand pockets and two back pockets, and a small zippered stash pocket by the lower-right thigh (perfect for car remote or small tool). I find that zippered pockets are a functional necessity on a pair of rugged bike shorts, offering security for pocketed items. It has one small elastic side panel by the hip for additional comfort and stretch. The front closure uses Velcro, and two robust snaps, and a nice long zipper for natures calls.

These have turned out to be a great pair of shorts, that are durable, cool looking, and well made. When I first started to test them, I didn’t like them much, since I found the material thick and somewhat stiff. Fortunately, they softened up and became more comfortable, and it just took some washing, and a lot of rides to break them in. They are still not the softest material around, but they are incredibly durable and tough. You don’t feel like you might tear them, or have to be careful when you sit down on something, they are robust and built like a tank. They also are smooth on the saddle, and never snag on the nose or rear section, which makes maneuvering around on a bike effortless.

It uses the same waistband closure system, and chamois as the Launch Kicker Short, refer to it for further information.

Final Thoughts
Make sure you like plaid, since there is only a color variation, but I like them, and you don’t look like a geek when not biking, and they can be used sans-liners. I like Plaid Launch Shorts, as they are durable, snag resistant on the saddle, have an excellent chamois and are fun to wear. The materials thickness and stiffness make them less comfortable initially, but long term life is increased.

Pros

  • Durable and tough
  • Superb 3D Chamois liner
  • Snag resistant on the saddle

Cons

  • It takes some time to break in
  • Material is thick and stiff (good and bad)

 

Specs:

  • MSRP: $90.00
  • Elite Style no. 11111130
  • Snap and Hook and Loop front closure with zip fly
  • Adjustable interior waistband
  • Two hand pockets and two back pockets
  • Detachable liner with MTB 3D Chamois
  • Screen print on Solid
  • 11″ inseam [size medium]
  • Plaid Body: 48% cotton 52% polyester UPF 50+
  • Weight: 181 g/m2
  • Liner: 80% polyester 20% elastane
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Colors: Black Plaid, Coffee Plaid

 

Rev Jersey
The Rev Jersey is a simple comfortable jersey, with a nice loose cut, and is made from 100% Polyester. It has a small zippered pocket on the right hip, and a cool pattern on the back, which of course will be hidden if you wear a pack. Like all of Pearl Izumi’s jerseys, their transfer fabric provides excellent moisture wicking capabilities, keeping you comfortable without a clammy feeling. It has a 10-inch zipper for venting, although I would prefer a 3/4 to full length one for maximum effectiveness. The loose cut, along with the stretchy material, offer great comfort and wearability, making it very functional for off-road performance.

Final Thoughts
The Rev Jersey is comfortable and stretchy, with a nice loose cut, and has great wicking properties, and offers a great value. Simple is as simple does.

Pro

  • Comfortable
  • Transfer fabric
  • Good value

Cons

  • Needs full length front zipper

Specs:

  • MSRP: $65
  • Select Style no. 11121118
  • Transfer fabric provides superior moisture transfer
  • 10″ zipper for venting
  • One zippered side pocket
  • Screen print
  • Loose fit
  • Body: 100% polyester
  • Colors: White/Black, OJ/Black, Green Flash/Black, Black/White

Launch Glove
The Launch Gloves palm and fingers use Clarino synthetic leather, which is soft and durable, and the back uses a combination of Airprene, Nylon, Polyester, synthetic leather and Spandex in different sections, depending on the required functionality. I had to look up what the heck Airpene was, and it’s a breathable elastometric material? On the heel of the palm, there is a small gel pad, that offers a tad of comfort, and is thin enough not to be overwhelming, or to lose tactile sensitivity. The outside of the thumb has a soft microfiber section, which was extremely functional for wiping up sweat, and other bodily fluids. The index and middle finger have some lightning bolt sections of Silicone screening for gripping, which worked great for braking and shifting. Between the thumb and index finger, they doubled up the Clarino, for durability and robustness, but I found it too thick, and it sometimes caused irritation and discomfort in that inner fleshly part of the hand.

The gloves take some time to break in, and were tight and slightly stiff during initial usage. After they’re worn in, they are a pretty comfortable glove, without any bind spots, or odd sensation on the fingers, like your finger tips falling asleep. They have a Velcro strap to tighten them down, but there is nothing to grab onto to pull the darn things off, so they are annoyingly difficult to remove with a glove finger. They need some sort of tab or something to pull on, else it takes some fine motor skills to pull them off. They need to revisit the design on this, as the usage is extremely poor.

I am a glove destroyer, and they have performed pretty decently for the abuse I have tossed at them. The palm and fingers have been robust, and the Silicone is just not starting to flake off on the finger tips. Unfortunately, both gloves have torn and the hemming has detached in the section of the hook and loop closure.

Final Thoughts
The Launch Gloves are comfortable, and the palm and fingers have been durable, but the lack of a pull tab for the hook and closure and the tearing and detached hem in the same area are a major bummer in a glove of this caliber.
Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Palms and fingers are tough

Cons

  • Lack of tab for hook and loop closure
  • Both gloves tore and hem detached by hook and loop closure
  • Doubled up leather section between thumb and index finger can irritate

Specs:

  • MSRP: $38
  • Collection Style no. 14141105
  • Clarino™ synthetic leather palm is soft and durable
  • Gel pad in heel of palm for comfort in the rough
  • Innovative palm patterning reduces bunching for a performance grip
  • Soft, low-profile wiping surface on thumb
  • Silicone-screened finger tips for a performance grip
  • Hook and loop closure
  • Palm: 90% synthetic leather 10% airprene
  • Back: 35% airprene 26% nylon 20% polyester 15% synthetic leather 4% spandex
  • Colors: Black, Coffee, Foothills Green/Khaki

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous August 22, 2011 at 2:24 am

It's just one thing after another.

Reply

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