Finding a good pair of mountain bike shorts is more than just getting a pair of baggies, it's about fit, function, style and comfort too.
There's a lot of different preferences out there when it comes to MTB shorts. Some riders prefer the harder wearing fabric, most suitable for downhill riding. While others prefer soft-shell for maximum movement on the bike. With features, fastenings, zips and vents, there's much more than meets the eye when it comes to finding a great pair of shorts.
Admittedly, I've always considered Pearl Izumi to be road specific when it came to their garments. Having collaborated with women's specific organisations such as Strongher, Pearl Izumi is somewhat largely unrecognised on the trails.
So I was a little intrigued when I was given a pair of their women's Elevate shorts to review. Despite their sterling reputation for producing comfortable performance chamois shorts, these MTB's are supplied as is.
Having blasted them around the trails, gotten them wet, muddy, washed and dried a few times, it's time to reflect on how well these shorts performed.
The Elevate shorts are deep purple in colour, which I wasn't a fan of at first, but then I got them on, and they contrasted my Juliana Nevis, I have to admit, they looked good.
In the hand the 4-way stretch rip-stop fabric felt soft with just enough flex to feel confident that I wouldn't have my movement restricted on the bike.
There are two reasonably sized zipped pockets on the front with a mesh liner, and a smaller stash pocket at the rear on the waistband. They aren't super big pockets, just enough space for a phone, some coins and your lip balm perhaps. Thinner mesh fabric has been used on the inseam for improved air flow, which compensates for the lack of vents on the rest of the garment.
The fastening system is a Veclro snap closure with a full zipper, and Velcro adjustable tabs on the inside waist band to get that fit just right.
I quite like the fit of these shorts in comparison to others I've ridden in. The waist is comfortable and secure, and it sits low on the hips so there's no digging in pressure marks when you're riding.
The leg length is usually something I struggle with, but the Elevate shorts appeared to run down low enough to my knee that there was minimal - if any - thigh gap with my knee pads on.
There's a great reason why Pearl Izumi is a TWC Brand Champion, and that's because they put a lot of care, attention and testing into their kit.
I've been quite impressed with their women's MTB Elevate shorts, primarily because I never considered Pearl Izumi and realistic buying option for mountain apparel. However, they faired really well on the trails with their DWR water-resist treatment, snag-free fabric and comfort.
For a summer and fair weather short, I would have expected a better air flow throughout the leg area. The short may benefit from zipped vents, or larger mesh areas to help the air circulate.
Even after getting them filthy, muddy, washed and dried, I'm impressed to see the colour is still a deep dynamic purple and the fit is still spot on without any fraying or fuzziness on the Velcro features.
Sizes: X.Small - Large
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