By Brandon Bilyeu
Expedition PRO Bib Short: $265
Expedition Shell Short: $95
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: online, retail
Expedition PRO Bib Short: Black, Dark Ink Floral
Expedition Shell Short: Phantom Gray
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 20+ hours
Sizing: Bib Shorts in S – XXL and Shell Shorts in waist size 28-38 (increments of 2)
Reviewer Measurements and Fit Comments: 5’10” (178cm), 150 lbs (68 kgs), 33″ (84cm) waist, 38” (96.5cm) hips, 33″ (84cm) inseam, 37″ (94cm) chest. I tested size Medium for the bibs and 32 for the shorts. Both pieces fit perfectly so the size charts seem true to size.
Shimano Sells Pearl Izumi
Starting off with a bit of industry news, back in May 2022 Shimano sold Pearl Izumi to US based United Sports Brands which is part of the private equity firm Bregal Partners. Thankfully, from the consumer side we won’t see any disruptions in supply or new products as the transition is made.
Pearl Izumi is also making a big push on the environmental front, with 90% of current products made with sustainable materials and a push to be carbon neutral by 2025. The PRO Bib Short and Shell Short both use recycled nylon in combination with virgin polyester and elastane.
Expedition PRO Bib Short – Pad, Pockets, and Potty Breaks
- New Levitate PRO chamois is excellent
- Lots of storage options with thigh and back pockets
- Soft fabric, great fit
- PI Dry fabric sheds light water easily
- Men and Women versions available
- I’m not sure the drop-tail nature break design quite hits the mark
The Expedition version of the PI PRO Bib Short is designed for gravel riding with the main differences being the addition of pockets and a drop-tail for easier nature breaks. The bib short also utilizes PI’s new top-end Levitate PRO chamois.
From my experience PI’s past chamois’ tended toward the thicker end of the spectrum and the new Levitate continues this trend. The previous PI chamois was thick, generously padded, and quite comfortable, but the thickness and single density construction caused some unwanted pressure in my perineum/soft tissue. The Levitate addresses this issue with a relief channel down the center and I can report that it works great.
PI also upgraded to a dual density design that feels more supportive and cushioning than the previous version. The top sheet that interfaces with the skin is super soft and feels great. All together this makes for a very comfortable chamois that absorbs bumps well and the generous cushioning keeps things comfortable for long days in the saddle. In general, I find a thinner chamois to be more comfortable, but the Levitate is the first ‘thick’ chamois that I don’t have any issues with. It is just a great chamois and kept me in complete comfort even on a long seven-hour ride.
For added storage capacity the Expedition PRO Bib Short has a pocket on the outside of each thigh and a single pocket at the base of the bib straps. The thigh pockets are great for slim items like phones or snack bars and hold the contents securely. The rear pocket usage depends on what top you are wearing. If you have a standard jersey with three stuffed rear pockets then comfort dictates small items in the bib pocket. If you go for a more casual shirt without pockets then bulkier items can be comfortably stored in the bib pocket. The total capacity of the three pockets on the shorts is good, but not a direct replacement for jersey pockets that can expand and hold more gear.
In what is a first for me, the bibs also incorporate a drop-tail design for quicker and easier nature breaks. Typically seen on women’s bibs, for men the idea is that going number two can be accomplished without removing any upper layers. The ideal usage seems to be in gravel racing / riding where long days increase the likelihood of a number two event, time may be critical, and throwing all your upper kit on the dusty / muddy ground is not appealing. There’s also always the prospect of last minute pre-race portable toilet events.
So how does it work? In theory you grab the rear of the bibs and just pull them down over your bum as you simultaneously squat. Sounds easy, but in practice it turned out to be a bit of a wrestling match. The best result was when I first tried on the bibs and wanted to test out this feature. The force required was significant and the resulting squat constrained by the elastic bibs was not exactly comfortable. I never actually needed to use this feature on a ride, but for the sake of testing did try to use it after several rides. The main issue I encountered is that sweaty bibs don’t want to slide over the skin as easily as dry bibs. So, where my dry test was tough, the post-ride test was nearly impossible. I think the usefulness of this feature will really come down to personal preference.
The cut and fit of the bibs is spot on with good support and compression without feeling constricted. The Italian fabric is super soft and feels luxurious against the skin. The drop-tail does mean there is a little extra fabric at the lower back that is a bit bulkier than the rest of the bibs, but doesn’t impact comfort. The bib straps are wide, raw edged, and so soft they just disappear.
Bottom line – the Expedition PRO Bib Shorts are ridiculously comfortable. The new Levitate chamois provides seemingly endless comfort and the pockets improve versatility. The drop-tail design didn’t work great for me, but it doesn’t detract from the function of the bibs.
Expedition Shell Short – Simple Style for a Casual Look
- Casual look that is not a parachute in the wind
- Non-constrictive fit due to good stretch
- PI Dry fabric sheds light water easily
- Just a shell (no chamois), can wear over bibs/shorts
- Still looking . . .
For those in search of a comfortable but casual riding look the Expedition Shell Short is a good option. The ‘shell’ refers to the fact that the shorts do not come with a chamois, but instead are intended to fit over bibs/shorts. The fit is trim to keep from catching too much wind while riding, but loose enough that it’s obvious you are wearing a short (your roadie spandex secretly hidden below).
Stretch is very generous in the legs and this is important for unrestricted movement on the bike. The fabric is also very slippery so there is no chaffing on the skin or abrasion on lycra worn underneath. If you happen to be wearing bibs with thigh pockets the stretch allows you to easily pull up a short leg for pocket access. The waist has almost no stretch to keep the short from slipping down and has belt loops if you want to add extra support. A front zipper and snap make taking the shorts on/off easy.
Storage comes from two hip pockets and one side zippered pocket. The hip pockets are located high up on the short and have level openings to keep the contents safely inside while riding. These two pockets are not super deep so can’t hold a modern cell phone, but keys, cards, and bars fit nicely. The side pocket is much more generously sized and can easily accommodate a smart phone.
Bottom line – a comfortable and lightweight short so you can hit the gravel and beer garden without looking too serious. Also great for post ride lounging.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Regensburg, Germany. He’s a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.