MSRP: Jersey (SGD$149); Tights (SGD$129)Product Courtesy of Key Power InternationalAvailibility: Now

I have often seen riders who have invested heavily on their bikes riding with simple cotton t-shirts and shorts during their weekly rides. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it often makes me wonder why they would not spend on proper riding gears to enhance their riding experience. Has the importance of jerseys and tights/berms been frequently overlooked? 

I did not start off with proper riding myself. Jersey and tights was not exactly the “in” thing back then and they were too expensive for me to afford one. It was after 4 years of riding that I finally decided to break the bank for one. I never rode without proper cycling gear ever since. A good set of cycling gear kept me comfortable in changing riding conditions.

Where it all started

Pearl Izumi is one of the few Asian companies which are renowned for its athletic wear. For over 50 years, they have devoted themselves in the development of performance apparel of the highest standard. Their products are now widely sort after internationally. The founder, Mr Kinji Shimizu, got the name, inspired by the fresh, clean spring water that passes through his boyhood home in Japan. Pearl Izumi means clean spring water in Japanese.

The Top

I was given a set of its Team jersey with matching tights for this review. What struck me instantly is how thin the top is. This jersey is ideal for a tropical country like Singapore where temperature is often above 30 degree Celsius. Other features include a full length hidden zip, Raglan sleeves, aerodynamic cut and elasticized cuffs, waist and pockets. The jersey is made of 100% Polyester, Lumiace Waffle Polyester, to be precise. This waffle like Polyester has many touch points and will absorb sweat quickly from your body. The large gaps in the cross sections of the threads will then aid the evaporation process, keeping the body comfortable.

The moment you don on the jersey, you will notice the distinct race cut. Unlike U.S. manufacturers, this jersey fits an average Asian like a glove and show off your shoulder and biceps. The thin Polyester worked as claimed, keeping the body cool when riding in the burning afternoon sun and reasonably warm for those chilly night rides. The full zip also helped in the ventilation control to achieve optimum comfort level. The body is always relatively dry even when the jersey was soaked.

The elasticized cuffs and waist has a thin layer of non-slip surface to ensure they stick to the skin and will not shift around as the rider pedal on. While this feature is not new, I am impressed when I actually went through my whole ride without the need to adjust my sleeves. The cuffs stayed in position throughout the ride, without feeling restrictive. Lastly, the rear pockets are sewed on with extra folds at the bottom, this allowed me to stow bulky items comfortably.

The Bottom

Pearl Izumi’s tights are as comfortable as the jersey. Made of 80% Polyurethane and 20% Aero Spandex, which provides great elasticity and fit, the tights feel unrestrictive as I go through the pedaling motion. In fact it feels as comfortable as a second layer of skin.

Comfort does not stop here. The SMT cushion used in Pearl Izumi’s tights are gender specific, differing in shape and density to suit the different anatomy. In addition, the SMT smooth top layer helps to prevent abrasion and has a high absorption rate to bring sweat away from the body. Last but not least, the SMT are claimed to be ultra-durable and will retain its shape even after prolong usage. While I cannot comment much on the durability portion due to the short review period, I certainly appreciate the thick SMT cushion which kept my bottom happy after 4 hours of riding. Do note that the tights under review are built mainly for roadies and is not recommended for mountain biking. The Spandex is too thin and soft to withstand the cuts from branches and thorns.

Conclusion

This set of jersey and tights does not come cheap. At its price range, there are many other options available and some of these can cost as low as a third of the price. So should you pay more?

For that price, what you get is a set of high quality, made in Japan, jersey and tights. You can be assured that only material of the highest quality is used. Once you have tried the jersey, you will realize how thick and hot some of the cheaper alternatives can be. For those who like to show off their good body built, you definitely cannot give Pearl Izumi a miss. The cut of the jersey will ensure that you show off the best of you.As for the tights, I believe in paying more for good quality cushioning and one that last. Over the long run, it saves you money as you do not need to constantly replacing the tights when the cushion goes dead. I had many bad experiences with cheaper tights which almost all the problems come from the cushion. The cushions are usually too thin, of a wrong shape or do not last more than a year.

A recreational cyclist might find it hard to justify spending so much on a set of jersey and tights. But if you are an enthusiast who demanded only the best from your gears, then you should be looking at the wide of Pearl Izumi cycling gear. There is bound to be something that suits your needs.

Perl Izumi is distributed by Key Power Internation Pte. Ltd. For more information, check out http://www.keypowerintl.com/