Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cycling gear review: Pearl Izumi Drop Tail tights

Due to certain biological, ahem, differences, women tend to get treated as second class consumers when it comes to bib shorts and tights.  Men don't have an issue with bibs during most bio-breaks, but for women it means getting nekkid essentially, unless one wears the jersey under the bibs.  This option is uncomfortable and deprives the cyclist of access to jersey pockets.  And let's face it, bibs are more comfortable.

Enter Pearl Izumi (PI)...they, among a limited number of manufacturers, actually make a superb set of women's specific bib shorts and bib tights.  I actually own a set of bib shorts and bib tights with the drop tail, but have only seen and read about the other brands.  One uses zippers, and another a buckle that is sort of in the middle of your back...not too comfortable for us recumbent bike riders, eh? 

PI uses a simple system where the back half of the waist isn't sewn to the upper.  The upper hangs down, like a shirt tail and you just tuck it in, on the back side.  Simple, easy, smooth...and bio-breaks are like pulling down a pair of shorts, that stays up in front.
The tights are the thermal kind, meaning cool weather use.  They are lightly fleeced inside, with the spandex outer.  They are warm but breath well so you don't overheat or get soaked in sweat.  Some of the tights are chamois-free, like mine (not needed on recumbent really), while other models from PI have chamois pads. The tights have reflective sections on the legs, and long ankle zips, to facilitate removing them with your bike shoes still on.  The tights upper half isn't really bibs, it's more like a sleeveless body suit, that has a half length zipper.  The thermal lining on the upper is especially nice as I seem to get cold easier on the bike than I used to.

I really like the PI drop tail gear.  It is well thought out, and well made.  It's NOT just recycled men's gear with a different chamois pad in it.  My only gripe is the retail price is so high I can only afford them from eBay or perhaps I should start making a monthly pilgrimage to the Pearl Izumi outlet store in Ft. Worth.

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