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Pearl Izumi began in 1955 with a man in Japan — Kinji Shimizu — delivering clothing to his local customers on his bike. He was fascinated with fabric, but it wasn’t until 1964, when his son was given a chance to ride in a new nylon cycling jersey made in Italy, that he started making the kind of garments that would come to define Pearl Izumi.
Pearl Izumi has always looked to new fabric technology to improve the performance of its cycling garments. The company boasts a large number of industry firsts such as sublimated jerseys, lobster gloves and eight-panel shorts. Then there is its “Speed Shop” located in Colorado that is solely devoted to finding more speed for elite athletes.
Not all cyclists are fixated on speed and performance though, hence Pearl Izumi’s range of “Escape” apparel. This range forgoes the cutting-edge aerodynamics that characterise the company’s “Pursuit” apparel to focus instead on temperature control, moisture transfer, and comfort.
That doesn’t mean that Pearl Izumi’s Escape apparel is devoid of high-tech materials. The company offers three levels — Select, Elite, and P.R.O. — with increasing amounts of fabric and construction technology to satisfy a range of performance needs and budgets.
The Elite Escape LTD jersey is a mid-level offering made from 100% polyester. Pearl Izumi describes this jersey as a combination of “classic graphics and tailoring with cutting-edge technology to create a jersey that’s designed to keep you feeling (and looking) cool during all-day adventures.”
“Elite Transfer fabric” provides this jersey with its moisture transfer capabilities while “Direct-Vent panels” at the sides and under the arms provide extra ventilation. Designed for warm-hot conditions, there is a full-length zipper at the front and three pockets at the rear.
Pearl Izumi’s Elite In-R-Cool bibshorts are also designed for warm-hot conditions, making use of “coldblack” finishing that reflects the heat of the sun to keep the dark fabric cool to the touch. Direct-Vent panels are used for the braces to provide extra ventilation for the upper body.
These shorts make use of Pearl Izumi’s mid-level Elite 3D Chamois, which provides “4-way stretch” and “pressure relief technology.” The legs are finished with the same Elite Transfer fabric used by the Elite Escape LTD jersey with short silicone patches for extra grip
Pearl Izumi characterises this Chinese-made jersey and Vietnamese-made bibshort as “form-fitting”. A size medium in each compares well with other brands such as Assos, with some stretch in the fabric to accommodate the upper and lower guns as well as a bit of middle-age spread.
It’s been several years since I’ve worn Pearl Izumi but I found this kit very familiar. All of Pearl Izumi’s hallmarks were in evidence, such as the high-quality fabrics, superb padding, and the kind of precise fit that meant I never had to fuss with any part of either garment while I was on the bike.
All of this means that shoppers need only worry over pricing and styling. The former is very reasonable given the quality of the materials and construction — I’d expect this kit to withstand at least a year of regular use — while the latter is quite conservative (though there are a couple of bolder colour combinations).
The Elite Escape LTD jersey is available in five sizes (S-XXL) and five styles (Linear white black, Linear red dusk, Razor Tibetan/lime, Razor blue x2, Diagonal blue x2). Elite In-R-Cool bibshorts are also available in five sizes (S-XXL) and three styles (black, black/white, black/lime). For more information, visit Pearl Izumi.
RRP: Elite Escape LTD jersey, AU$145/US$110; Elite In-R-Cool bibshorts, AU$165/US$135.