by Justin Schroth
The Pearl Izumi name carries with it a reputation as one of top manufacturers of performance apparel for cycling, running, and triathlon athletes. With a well established presence in the road world, Pearl Izumi looks to turn some heads with the dirt crowds by offering a revamped mountain bike line with some stylish new designs that carry the Pearl Izumi quality and craftsmanship. Let's take a look at two of the standouts.
Launch Jersey Highlights
- V-Neck Collar Design
- 100% Polyester
- Sublimated Graphics on Selected Panels
- Hidden Optical Cloth
- Loose Fit
- Colors: Shadow/Lime Hex or Mykonos/Grey Scrib Camo
- Sizes S-XXL
- $65 MSRP
Elevate Short Highlights
- 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex, 4-Way Stretch Ripstop Main Body Fabric
- Water-Resistant DWR Treatment
- Two Zippered Hand Pockets Plus One Additional Zippered Security Pocket on Center Back
- Snap Front Closure with Zip Fly
- 15" Inseam (Size Medium)
- Knee Pad Compatible
- Sold Without a Liner Short
- Colors: Black, Rifle Green, Belgian Block
- Sizes S-XXL
- $100 MSRP
As someone who has owned Pearl Izumi products and has come to expect a high quality product, it was no surprise to me that both the Launch Jersey and Elevate Short looked great right out of the box. Solid seams, high quality materials and no loose threads to doubt the craftsmanship.
With a bit more relaxed fit than their XC jerseys, the Medium size was spot on with the right amount of room in all the right places for my 5’9” 160-pound frame. To be blunt, I’ve never been a huge fan with the styling Pearl Izumi chose for most jerseys, but I was really taken back by the subtle yet modern design of the Launch Jersey. It's a nice improvement. Bonus points when the wifey commented on how fancy I looked heading out for a ride.
With the Elevate Short, I noticed that the material is a bit thicker than many shorts, which should bode well for durability. It's also water resistant thanks to a DWR coating. Although a bit longer cut, I liked that they had an elastic feel and knew that this typically leads to comfort in the saddle and while moving around the bike. Additionally, I was glad to see mesh materials on the inside thighs, side zippered pockets, internal waist adjustments, and a solid and secure snap-closure on the zipper. Be aware that the Elevate Short is sold sans chamois, which is fine in our book, so be sure to pack your favorite chamois for a trail ride if that's your thing. The Launch Jersey and Elevate Short come in at $65 and $100 respectively, which is line with most comparable jerseys and shorts on the market.
On The Trail
The Launch Jersey is made with a lightweight and breathable material that has plenty of stretch, and with a comfortable cut I never felt any tight spots in the shoulders or arms on the trail. Pearl Izumi craftsmanship also meant I never had any thick seams digging in under the straps of my pack or rubbing against my skin. With the bottom half of the front and rear panels composed of a tight mesh material, I was instantly hit with a refreshing breeze once moving, and even with a riding pack the airflow was more than enough to keep me from overheating. Additionally, a hidden optical cloth inside the lower hem of the jersey is nice for a quick wipe of your shades after a day of sucking dust behind your riding buddies.
The longer cut of the Elevate Short makes them an obvious match for those rides that require knee protection, and with the thicker material I could even see these as a perfect pair of downhill shorts for those lift access/shuttle days. Shifting around on the bike in all directions felt effortless, all thanks to the 4-way stretch fabric. For most trail rides though, once I hit the climbs I found myself wishing the Elevate Short were an inch or two shorter as they hung well over my knee caps. The other trade off of the mentioned thicker material was breathability. Although there are mesh materials on the inner thighs, I wish these panels were a bit bigger as the water resistant material meant that airflow on the remaining surface area was compromised.
In the storage category, the large zipper tabs were easy to find and access with gloves, and easily fit a phone/keys. Since I always ride with a pack, I found the rear zipper pocket of no use and would love to see this removed in favor of a lower price point. Additionally, as one that already owns Pearl Izumi liner shorts, it would be awesome to see loops inside the short to fully integrate the two.
Long Term Durability
With their reputation and my personal track record with Pearl Izumi gear, I have no reservations with the long-term durability and quality of the Elevate Short and Launch Jersey. After a few months of abuse, there are no loose seams or stitches, aside from a few Velcro induced fabric pulls.
Fortunately for Vital readers (and unfortunately for me), additional durability testing was performed with a direct encounter with East Coast grit, resulting in scientific abrasion testing after an ill-fated off the bike. After dusting myself off and assessing damage to my body, bike, and ego, I was relieved to find out that both the jersey and short held up great with no rips or tears. A quick wash and they were no worse for wear.
What’s The Bottom Line?
The competitive price, brand reputation, and all-around comfort on the trails makes the Launch Jersey and Elevate Short a solid contender in the ever-increasing apparel market. The styling of the Launch Jersey will keep you from looking like you picked through the bargain bin, and if you’re one that wants your shorts to pull double duty or resist some less-than-perfect riding conditions, you cant go wrong with the Elevate Short.
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.