Pearl iZUMi Women’s Mountain Bike Gear Review

Pearl Izumi

Pearl iZUMi has been making cycling specific clothing for many years now. Bought by Shimano back in 2008, the brand is now solely focused on cyclists. Gear for road, mountain and triathlete cyclists is their speciality now having recently phased out the running shoes and running clothing they used to make.

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Sedona could not have been a better location to put the Pearl iZUMi mountain bike clothing to the test. (Yah, I know it’s a tough job…)

For the Crankjoy Women’s Bike Test we needed all kinds of gear. Pearl iZUMi was kind enough to send us a wide variety of items to test. Some we liked, some we didn’t.

Needless to say, there are plenty of choices with Pearl iZUMi with regard to color, cut and style. Some of our favourite pieces came from their new casual/technical/riding clothing that is up for any kind of riding you do.

The Versa Line:

This year Pearl iZUMi introduced the Versa Line, designed around a highly versatile rider! (see what they did there?) They describe it as “bike clothing specifically made for nothing specific.”

Riding your cargo bike to the coffee shop or taking the kids to school? Ride in VERSA! Hitting up a sick single track before work? Ride in VERSA! Offseason strength training at the gym so you can crush it next spring? Wear your VERSA! (They’ve got some great men’s style too!)

You get the idea!  The clothes were designed to look equally great whether you are sweating out a workout or just hanging out.

Without further adieu, here is what our testers thought about the Pearl iZUMi gear.


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Pearl Izumi versa henley
Andi says: this shirt makes me “look like I know what I’m doing in my life.” We know we all loved the Versa Henley in short or long sleeves, it’s that one piece you just should not live without. At $65 MSRP why not have a couple?

Andi Zolton:

“I. Love. This. Shirt. It sits well on my frame and makes me look like I know what I’m doing in life. I could probably go for a 4-hour mountain bike ride in it then walk into a job interview and get the position with a $10,000 signing bonus. Sleeve length and diameter is perfect. Semi-form fit is flattering and not at all restrictive. The fabric is durable and the heather texture resists showing stains.”  Andi has been known to wear this shirt 9 days without washing and it still looks great!

Jenna Hoover:

“I am definitely on board with the laid-back, “everyday wear” style mountain bike clothes are moving, and this jersey is no exception! Pretty sure I could wear this jersey with a pair of jeans! Super comfy material that does not scratch, nice stretch in the jersey for movement, and wicking, quick dry material are all positives. I also appreciate the drop tail hem for my long torso – nobody wants their back hanging out!”

Tricia Davis:

“Great cut on this jersey, fits perfectly, sits on the shoulders and flatters my small chest with the snaps, rear is long enough to ride in without riding up exposing the low back inadvertently. The fabric feels like my pyjamas, like super comfy!”

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Pearl Izumi
Pearl iZUMi Canyon short with liner and Launch short-sleeved jersey riding into the sunset in Sedona, Arizona. Left, tester Andi Zolton, right Tricia Davis.  Photo: Brenda Ernst

Andi, Tricia and Jenna don’t all agree on this kit:

The Launch jersey has great style and cut and is very flattering. V- necks are something we don’t usually wear, but the extra room is nice without being too riskay!  The color options are great and really pop.  As far as the fabric goes, its super airy, breathable and light.  It’s perfect for hot summer days. It feels like you are covered, but barely wearing anything at all. For $60 MSRP it’s a great jersey.

The Canyon shorts, however, were another story.  For regular sized testers, who were not named Andi, the shorts were just too short and too tight. Jenna said: “A wee little snug and short for my liking. I’ve got what I like to call “thunder thighs” so I tend to choose riding shorts that do not accentuate that. And oddly enough, although the shorts technically fit, the liners are way too small.”

Here are Andi’s thoughts:  “I found these shorts to be incredibly comfortable and well-fitting. They are the tightest, shortest baggy mountain bike shorts that I’ve ever worn, but they never feel restrictive, nor do they bunch up anywhere. The included liner w/ chamois has a second-skin feel and stays hidden under the shorts so I don’t look like a Fred. The small pocket is good for an ID or house key which I wouldn’t necessarily utilize on a bike ride since I usually have a backpack on, but if I wanted to wear the shorts for a run or SUP session it’s perfect. Light color and thin material keeps me cool in warmer weather.”

So, clearly, if you are a small person, these shorts might be great for you.  Be sure to try them on!  On an up note, a pair of MTB shorts with a liner for $85 is a great value, if they fit you.

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Pearl Izumi
The ladies at Roam Bike Fest loved the Pearl iZUMi gear, and maybe short shorts are coming back? Who Knows!? Photo: Brenda Ernst

The X-Project Elite Women’s Mountain Bike Shoe:

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Pearl Izumi
Solid construction and materials on the X-Project ELITE shoes. Dial them in specifically to your foot and fine tune with the velcro closure across the toe.

Pearl Izumi

The X-Project Elite shoe is Pearl iZUMi ‘s answer to the ladies who need a high-end stiff pedalling mountain bike shoe, but also a good tractioning sole.  It offers great rubber lugs on the sole for walking and a little toe-flex for those hike a bike sections you might encounter (bridges, steep climbs or techy sections.)

The carbon soles and BOA closure come at a price – MSRP on these babies is $275, but what is more important than being able to pedal with your feet staying comfortable all day?

The shoes are durable and wear well, but the black show dirt and dust easily. Need a flashier shoe, pick up the Atlantis color (pictured left) instead.

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The X-Project ELITE shoe comes with the 1:1 insert which you can customize with arch supports and varus wedges to make your alignment and pedalling efficiency supreme.

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Pearl Izumi
The rubbered bottom is durable (I’ve had this pair for about 3 months) and comes with cyclocross cleats if you’re into that.

Here’s what Jenna thinks of the shoe:

“I love these shoes! My feet are super wide, so I often have a hard time finding shoes that make the cut out of the box. These required no break in period. 1:1 insole helps support my high arch. Found no problems with the walkability of the shoes with hike-a-bike while still maintaining stiffness with pedalling.

Andi’s 2 Cents:

“SO comfortable. I have that short foot/fat toe box situation, and this shoe hugs my foot with equal pressure all the way around like a sock. The BOA closure micro adjustability makes it easy to find that comfortable, snug feeling, which is enhanced by the fact that the tongue stays in place no matter what. I do not experience any hotspots along the top of my foot with these shoes.

The sole is rigid but flexes at the toe joint for a more natural feel when hike-a-biking or when running in a cyclocross application. ALSO, it has an option for toe spikes so that I can use the same pair of shoes for mountain biking AND cyclocross.

My Pearl iZUMi shoes in the past have held up very well and I have no doubt that the X-Project Elite will as well. There is a reason that PI has been around for so long.”

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Pearl Izumi
Andi decked out in Pearl iZUMi . Launch Jersey, Summit glove, Canyon short and X-Project Elite Mountain Bike Shoe. WOAH! Looking good! Functioning supreme!

The Women’s Summit Glove: (MSRP $35)

“Along with looking cool, I find these gloves to be incredibly functional. I appreciate the textured neoprene over the knuckles on the back of the hand, and the thin but durable leather palm with reinforcement where it’s needed most. Suede booger-wiper on both thumbs is incredibly soft. Conductive leather on pointer finger and thumb make it easy to take those rolling selfies without fear of dropping your phone in a mud puddle.”


Pearl iZUMi is one of our favorite manufacturers of shoes and clothing for mountain biking.  Check out the latest year-end post with some of our others.

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