Review: Pearl Izumi Versa – Functional Versatility

Pearl Izumi Barrier Jacket

The functional style movement in bike clothing is one that I fully support especially if I can wear it off the bike comfortably.  This is where Pearl Izumi’s new Versa Collection steps in.  The line takes aim at bridging the gap between casual clothing and stylish mountain bike wardrobe.

As much as I like bright clothing especially to be seen during hunting season there’s something to be said for the understated style.  Luckily the Versa Collection includes shorts, jerseys and jackets in a variety of colors for both men and women.

“We set out to design a new line of bike apparel that could truly allow you to choose your own adventure. It had to be comfortable. Functional. Extremely versatile. But before we started our first napkin sketch or stitched a single seam, we agreed to one simple mandate: Design every piece of Versa apparel for a one-hour ride. At least. The rest? Totally up to you.”

Pearl Izumi Versa Short

Versa Short – $100

These shorts are truly a comfortable casual piece that are at home hanging out at the local coffee shop or on the trails.  The length is about about average trail length compared to other mountain bike shorts.  I measured the inseam at around 11 inches.  I have a 31″ inseam and they fall just at the knee on me.

The fabric is a little thicker and warmer than the average short.  I first wore the shorts on a warm summer day and thought, man these shorts will be super nice later in the year.  Fast forward to some brisk fall days in the 50’s and the Versa shorts are awesome.

There are two front zippered pockets big enough for even the largest cell phones.  Two more pockets are in the rear (one zippered) as well as one small zippered lower left leg pocket.  There is no lack of places to put stuff in these shorts.

Pearl Izumi Versa

The only thing the shorts lack is waist adjustment which isn’t a big deal if you buy the right size short.  I would probably buy one size smaller than normal to try to get away with not using a belt.

PI Versa Polo

Versa Polo Shirt – $70

You’d have to look hard to realize the Versa Polo is actually a performance piece of cycling apparel.  It’s as soft and comfy as it looks too.   Reflective accidents on the upper left back and both sleeves are a nice touch for after dark riding from the pub.  I really like the style of the chest pocket, but haven’t found a use for it yet.   It’s a bit too small for my pocket protector.  Overall the shirt does its job well of providing cool wicking comfort that doesn’t scream typical mountain bike wear.

Pearl Izumi Versa

Versa Barrier Jacket – $140

The Versa Barrier Jacket is a definitely the most stylish cycling jacket I’ve ever owned.  I now can’t wait for cooler rainy days to sport this one.   Understated graphics, hood and a soft water resistant and wind resistant fabric give a very comfortable (and quiet) feel.   The fit is roomy without being baggy enough to flap around in the wind.

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Pearl Izumi Barrier Jacket
Sleeves are plenty long for being stretched out on the bike without breezes shooting up your arms.

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Pearl Izumi Versa Barrier Jacket
A covered zipper flap and deep pockets are nice touches to make sure stuff isn’t falling out of the jacket.

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Pearl Izumi Versa Barrier Jacket
Adequate tail length to keep mud and drafts out as well as reflective piping to be seen.

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Hidden mitts are tucked neatly inside the cuffs of the jacket when you need warmer digits.

The hidden mitts are brilliant for extra wind protection over your regular gloves or a light glove if you forgot to pack a pair.  They stow away seamlessly and are always there if you need them.   You’d never know they are there unless someone told you.

Versatility Check

Style and functionality of the Versa line is definitely strong. The clothes offer high comfort along with great on the bike and off the bike versatility.  Nice details in pockets, reflective coatings and hidden mitts are well appreciated.  These are bike clothes I look forward to packing for trips as dual-purpose clothing that can be worn on the bike as well as on the town.

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