Review and photos by Justin Schroth
Pearl Izumi has long been in the cycling game creating clothing, shoes, and accessories for road, triathlon, and mountain bike athletes. Building on their experience and reputation for creating high quality apparel, Pearl Izumi has launched a new line of mountain bike apparel for 2015, including the new WRX jacket. While there are a huge range of options on the market for general outerwear that is lightweight, functional, and protects from the elements, Pearl Izumi adds their own touch with some cycling specific features. Read our review to find out how we got along.
MTB WRX Jacket Highlights
- MTB Barrier fabric for high performance wind and water protection with abrasion resistance
- Full-length internal draft flap with zipper garage seals in warmth
- Hood that fits over a trail bike helmet
- Elbow pad compatible fit
- Armpit and hood vent
- Body: 100% polyester woven twill with a 2.5 layer charcoal membrane
- Weight: 272 grams
- Colors: Black or Yellow
- Sizes: Small-XXL
- MSRP: $175
The WRX jacket was designed to be a lightweight jacket that is easy to pack down and store for the riders who won’t let a little precipitation get in the way of a day in the saddle. Once tossed on and zipped up, the jacket felt very lightweight with a nice thin material that didn’t feel too bulky nor offer much resistance when moving around. I am 5’9" and about 160-pounds, and although Pearl Izumi describes the WRX as “semi-form fit,” the jacket still had enough room to comfortably add another layer or pads without being overly baggy and cumbersome once hunched over in the saddle.
Sometimes it’s the little things that count, and with the WRX, an attached helmet-designed hood, a sealed zipper with an internal draft flap, zipper cover on the collar, and abrasion resistant elbows add some nice touches to the jacket.
At first, I kept reaching to the sides to slide my phone in a pocket, but Pearl Izumi keeps it simple with no pockets on the WRX jacket. Note that if you're not a huge fan of the "Citronelle" yellow color, Pearl Izumi offers up a traditional black option as well.
On The Trail
We all know that once you are in the saddle and reaching for the bars, most non-cycling apparel quickly shows its true colors. Arms that are too short, tightness in the rear back panel, or the dreaded plumbers crack that makes an unwelcome appearance because the lower back panel does not provide enough coverage. Thankfully Pearl Izumi kept the riding position in mind and avoided all of these common pitfalls, providing arms that are generous in length, and an extended cut in the rear.
I’m a big fan of having no seams/Velcro around the wrist, so the simple elastic cuffs were a wise choice in my opinion. Even the attached hood is designed to fit perfectly over a helmet, and somewhat surprisingly it easily stays in place without restricting your vision when looking side-to-side, once again thanks to the elastic opening.
On a cool 60-degree day the jacket provides enough airflow thanks to the two side vents, but like with most outerwear that offers some water resistance, once the temperature goes up it can get a little clammy inside. Since evolving into a fair-weather rider in my ‘old’ age, I honestly never had a chance to take the jacket out on a full rain ride, but still felt like the moisture protection needed to be tested.
The ‘wind and water-resistant’ feature held up pretty well to a constant shower stream, and after about a minute or two in the shower I was still dry underneath. Based on this uber-scientific experiment, I have confidence that the WRX jacket would hold up well during a typical rain ride.
Things That Could Be Improved
As someone who doesn't often ride with many layers nor any pads for most rides, I would like to have a slightly less baggy fit. Although I did have some extra room in the sleeves so it’s quite possible I should have just gone a size down to a small.
As mentioned, I can’t break the habit of going to put my phone in my jacket pocket, and having a simple zippered pocket in the front would be nice for those quick runs to the store (or the bar) after a ride. It's possible that Pearl felt a pocket could compromise water-resistance, or it might have been omitted to help keep the price down, but I still feel it would be a useful addition.
Long Term Durability
Although the WRX is made from lightweight materials throughout most of the jacket, the added elbow protection provides the right amount of durability without adding bulk. Thankfully during testing there were no off-the-bike experiences or rough interactions with trees/thorns to test the limits of durability, but all seams, zippers, and stitches appear top quality and seem to have been constructed with care. Most Pearl Izumi gear I own is still going strong on its 3rd or 4th season, and at this point I have no reason to believe the WRX jacket will be any different.
What's The Bottom Line?
Compared to other cycling jackets on the market that provide the same weather protection, the $175 price tag is at or below most such offerings. Although I’d like to see some zippered pockets, Pearl Izumi makes up for it with a lightweight jacket that is perfectly cut for life in the saddle.
Visit www.pearlizumi.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.