Warmth is guaranteed, but in my experience so too was an awkward fit that really let down what would otherwise be a solid mid-market option. The Pearl Izumi Men's Cycling Thermal Bib Tights are priced at an acceptable amount that is within budget for riders who will be on the bike all winter long, but you may need to size up. If you can, try before you buy.
Repels water well
Made from recycled material
Not very breathable
Lacks a good amount of stretch
Let’s get the good stuff rolling: the Pearl Izumi Men's Cycling Thermal Bib Tights certainly keep you warm whatever temperature the thermometer is reporting. For a pair of winter tights, that’s a prerequisite that the Japanese brand passes with top marks.
When rain's coming down or splashback from a puddle ends up on the tights, the water never penetrates the fabric, while as an added plus the tights are made from recycled material.
However, as warm and environmentally friendly as Pearl Izumi’s tights are, they lack in other areas, not least in the sizing department.
An inaccurate sizing guide could be compensated for good breathability and stretchiness, but sadly a high rating cannot be scored in these areas, either. Only devoting a small area for a strip of dotted reflectors was also a disappointment.
For the price, they are a sound purchase, but there are better options on the market that won’t set you back much more.
Pearl Izumi Men's Cycling Thermal Bib Tights: construction
Pear Izumi has opted for strong fabrics to form the base of these bib tights, nylon accounting for 56% of the material and polyester 30%, leaving Lycra to take up the remaining 14%. What this essentially means is that you’re getting a set of tights that will be very hard to rip or pierce.
The entirety of the leg is backed by a thermal fleece that definitely warms the rider and keeps them at a comfortable temperature. The PI Dry water repellent technology, meanwhile, bounces light rain back off.
Towards the ankles, the fabric gets noticeably less stretchy, with the tights doing away with the need for zippers. That at least adds comfort for there’s no zip awkwardly protruding into the skin, but the lack of manoeuvrability in this area was a stress whenever pulling the tights on.
An Elite Escape 1:1 chamois with, what Pearl Izumi describes as, a “floating top-sheet design that reduces friction”, provides the comfort between body and the bike, and it is a good level of thickness that prevents any chills appearing from the saddle.
The bib mesh is made from 80% polyester and 20% elastane that provides a good degree of stretchability.
Pearl Izumi Men's Thermal Bib Tights: the ride
At 63kg and 174cm, a size small is what Pearl Izumi's website recommended me to opt for. But from day one these tights felt far too small, and even as I hoped they would stretch over time, they never did. From reading other reviews, this issue is not limited to just me.
Put simply, I never felt comfortable. I had to constantly pull the tights up as high as they would go for the chamois never quite sat in its intended positioning, and the weak straps had me fearing that they would snap as I forcibly lugged them over my shoulders.
It was possible to ride for a bit with poorly fitted bib tights, but after a while it became an uncomfortable inconvenience with bits of the tights digging into me in awkward positions, resulting in me forever shifting my position. As a consequence of this, I often felt trapped by the lack of breathability.
Aside from being a tad too wide, the chamois is solid, doing its job as can be expected, and the same can be said for the water repellence and the thermal fabric inside the tights. I am convinced these tights would keep the cold at bay if I ever had to be out riding below zero.
But the really poor sizing and heavy feel of the ankle straps meant that too long of my ride was spent moving around to get a better fit. And for me that ultimately limits what would otherwise be a reasonably-priced and well-constructed winter tights.
Value and conclusion
Ok, so the sizing problems really made my experience with these tights less than a totally positive one, but get the sizing right - go a size higher, would be my best advice - and you’ll have a good pair of tights that will do the job for most riders.
They’ll keep you warm in a British winter and they are within budget for riders who will be riding all winter. Just remember: size up.
Sizes: S - XXL
Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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