Great Chamois Comfort and Sleek Bib Design
I’ve worn Pearl Izumi products for many years, but never tried their P.R.O. level of apparel (except gloves), Pearl’s top of the line. I’m very particular when it comes to chamois comfort, and my first impression of the P.R.O. Escape women’s bibs was very favorable regarding the chamois, as well as the bibs overall. I found the chamois to provide lasting comfort on rides of any length, and the bibs to be sleek and stylish, with nice touches and an overall comfortable fit.
Key Style Features
These bibs fit great, even after multiple washings. They are true to size so you can believe the sizing chart.
For better moisture transfer and breathability, the bib straps are a mesh fabric called Mineral Direct-Vent. I also like that Pearl kept the bib straps black as not to show sweat/dirt (like white straps can do) and when riding in the drops, if your jersey hikes up, you don’t see a patch of white along the lower back.
Another plus is the side of the bibs come up far enough to provide a clean, sleek line under your jersey – you wont get a muffin top. The leg grips are nicely designed and avoid the “sausage leg” look that you might encounter on some shorts that squeeze too tight at the cuff.
One design element I didn’t care for was the low-cut front, which dips several inches below the bellybutton (see photo). I don’t have a gut, but I’d prefer to see the bibs come above the bellybutton to provide more coverage.
There is also a center bib clip that the marketing materials say is designed to let you customize the front strap position. Because the bib straps are so comfortable, I think this is an unnecessary feature. I also found the clip itself extremely small (approximately 1/2 inch), which made it difficult to unclip, even though it was easy to clip.
The 8-inch inseam (size medium) is a nice, comfortable length. For longer legs like mine, I’d prefer a little longer inseam, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me on these bibs.
Soft Chamois Adds to the Comfort
The chamois used in the P.R.O. Escape bibs is extremely comfortable. Even when on the trainer for long periods, there’s no discomfort. The chamois provides maximum comfort using:
- Breathable 4-way stretch and pressure-relief technology
- Variable-density padding, providing more cushion in areas where needed most
- Thermoregulation technology to regulate temperature
- Soft next-to-skin fabric provides added comfort
Nature Breaks Still Not That Quick
As I’ve written in other reviews/articles, I’m in search of the perfect women’s bib designed for easy on/off when nature calls. It seems to be the biggest barrier for women switching from shorts to bibs.
As for Pearl Izumi’s drop tail, it functions great when removing your shorts, but reattaching requires you to be a contortionist. The way the drop tail is designed, using hook and eye closures (like a bra), you detach the rear bib strap from the shorts. This can be easily done without removing your jersey. But as soon as you detach the bib strap, it springs up by your neck due to the elasticity of the fabric.
Then, when it is time to reattach the rear bib strap to the short, you find that the bib strap is not easily retrieved, especially under your jersey. It’s hiding up around your shoulders somewhere. I tried this reattachment process the first time at home — even using the bathroom mirror to locate the strap — but was unable to grab the rear bib strap and reattach it without removing my jersey and removing both bib straps. I would say there’s some additional design work needed to improve this concept.
When I wear these bibs, I go back to removing my jersey and the straps instead of disconnecting the drop tail.
Pearl Izumi has made great strides in their women’s bibs and chamois. I really like the look and feel of the P.R.O. Escape Women’s bibs and definitely give high marks to the comfort of the chamois. From the comfortable shorts and leg bands to the no-tug bib straps, I’m very pleased with these bibs.
However, as with many brands of women’s bibs out there, no one has perfected making nature breaks easy. Some makers are getting better but are not there yet. If any woman has found the answer, let me know. Until then, I will continue my search for the Holy Grail.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.