Pearl Izumi Women's Interval bib shorts review

The Interval shorts from Pearl Izumi provided a race ready fit and great chamois, but the drop tail design was a disappointment

Cycling Weekly Verdict

The fit and fabric of the lower body really impressed us, and the chamois was comfortable. Unfortunately, the drop tail solution wasn't a winner for us, though some riders may be comfortable with this design.

  • +

    Performance fit

  • +

  • -

    Drop tail doesn't stay put

Pearl Izumi's Women's Interval bib shorts are designed to tick the boxes for riders seeking a performance fit, and the brand has incorporated its drop tail 'comfort break' solution, with a few tweaks.

>>> Best women's shorts reviewed 

The design uses a seven panel construction with a high stretch fabric. The "muscle hugging" (Pearl's words but they certainly rang true) fit on offer at the legs was the biggest positive for me. Sizes range from XS to 2XL, and the small I had on test was as expected.

The key fabric is Pearl Izumi's 'In-R-Cool fabric', and this material aims to keep the skin cool and offer sun protection. Testing these shorts on the turbo trainer, it wicked sweat well and kept me comfortable.

The leg cuffs measure in at two inches, with silicone flashes on the underneath to hold them in place. Testing these shorts over leg warmers and on bare skin, they did the job in both cases without digging in.

Pearl Izumi has added some 'BioViz' reflective elements, with 'P' logos and strips at the outside of the thighs, and these are a nice addition.

The chamois within the shorts is the 'Elite Escape 1:1' pad - this is the same as that utilised in the Pursuit Thermal tights I tested in the winter months. In terms of padding, it's quite a light option but the four-way stretch top sheet and two-layer suspension core provided me with all the comfort I needed on long rides.

The upper was where things began to unravel when testing the Interval bib shorts. On the first rides, in fresh spring conditions, I became acutely aware of a slither of cold skin on my lower back. I stopped, hiked the shorts up and went on my way. The pad stayed put and the lower body section didn't move around, but I definitely had the feeling that my lower back was exposed.

Upon return, a quick check in the mirror was able to confirm that this was indeed the case.

Leaning forward exposes the lower back

Where the heavier weight winter tights use a tough elastic waistband to keep the lower body in place, with the 'comfort break' drop tail tucked in nicely, the Interval shorts feature laser cut seams. These seams feel lovely and soft against the skin - but the upper rides up instead of tucking into the waistband.

There are plenty of women's bib shorts that feature a lack of coverage at the lower back - for example dhb's halterneck design leaves the skin exposed. However, in this case the movement from covered to uncovered when leaning over the bike, and the lower cut on the short section meant I was much more aware of the gap.

Lower back is covered when standing

In terms of its actual use, the drop tail design did work. I do like shorts to have a feature that allows for comfort breaks without removing upper layers - but I'd always maintain that you spend more time cycling than going to the toilet so the solution shouldn't interfere with performance on the bike.

These shorts come in at £149.99 and this is a reasonable price when the quality lower body fabric, good fit and effective grippers are taken into account.

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.

A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly. 

When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.

She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6. 

Height: 166cm

Weight: 56kg

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