Pearl Izumi Bibs Have Something for Everyone
Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. (left, above) and Elite model In-R-Cool bib shorts are more similar than different. Even though the top-of-the-line P.R.O. has the finishing touches you’d expect, both are outstanding performers for any level rider.
Both are rated by Pearl as suited for cyclists who ride 3-7 times a week. Both have the same silicon leg grippers, inside similar elastic cuffs, to keep the shorts in place on your legs. Both feature high-quality materials, styling and comfortable, well-fitting chamois. Both deliver the same In-R-Cool technology that “provides optimal cooling and reflective sun protection” of UPF 50+.
The Differences are Minor
The fairly minor differences between the two models are in the slightly higher-end P.R.O. chamois, the “Minerale” fabric (“derived from minerals – providing exceptional evaporative cooling, odor resistance and added UV protection”) — and in the somewhat tighter fit.
While the material in the lower (shorts) portion of these bibs appears the same to the eye, the upper bib portion is obviously different. The P.R.O. model features a denser, yet equally stretchy fabric, compared to the mesh fabric in the Elite uppers. The top of the P.R.O. bib runs slightly higher on the chest, too.
And while the P.R.O. model features a “4D” chamois, vs. the “3D” Elite chamois, even Pearl’s marketing material makes it hard to tell the difference. Sure, They’re shaped slightly differently, one’s orange, the other red. But they both feature almost all the same underlying technology (“breathable 4-way stretch,” “pressure relief technology,” and “active carbon yarns [that] improve thermoregulation”).
Both are Great on the Road
I’ve been wearing both interchangeably for a few months, on all types of rides across varying distances up to a century. Both models are stellar bibs, in short. They fit well from bottom to top, they stay in place around your legs, in your crotch, and up top. They are comfortable in every respect, no matter the distance or time in the saddle.
In fact, the only real difference I can tell between the two is in the slightly distinct fit each offers. The P.R.O. is tight-fitting and holds everything snugly in place, while the Elite is a little less snug, especially through the mid-section. This seems to be a hallmark, as you might expect, from model to model across Pearl’s line — in both jerseys and shorts. (I also tested the Select bibs, a level below Elite, but found them to be too loose-fitting to my liking.)
Based on the P.R.O.’s bib fitting higher on the chest, for bio breaks, this means you really have to tug down on it to avoid having to take off your jersey and lower the straps. The Elite is easier to work with in this respect.
The Bottom Line
If you’re in the market for bibs and know what you like in terms of the “feel” of the fit, these two are both terrific options to consider. Both are comfortable in fit, great performers on the road, and reasonably priced for quality gear.