I got some sorely needed cycling gear for Christmas this year, literally. I’d torn my favorite Pearl Izumi Elite Bib Shorts in my crash. Fortunately, my clever wife was able to repair them. There’s two clothing items you never want to skimp on: shoes and shorts. Riding is never any fun when your feet or butt are sore. With shorts, it’s all about the chamois and let me tell you, chamois has come a long way. The chamois in the Pearl Izumi Elite Bib Shorts is top notch and you find this out on rides longer than 25 miles. I have some other bib shorts and the chamois isn’t nearly as good a quality and I only wear them on shorter rides, otherwise my butt gets sore and we can’t have that.
I got one pair of the Performance Elite Bib Short. I really like these shorts on long rides because they have pretty good core support and the chamois is first rate. They also provide a fair amount of compression for my legs which helps me ride longer at a higher average heart rate without cramping. I was surprised how much of a difference these shorts made on a recent 60 mile ride.
The other pair of shorts I got were the Hincapie Performer Bib Short. I had made a suggestion for these because I’d seen that they had gotten good reviews. They were a bit thinner in terms of material and the chamois didn’t seem as thickly padded as the other shorts I got, so I was a bit skeptical at first. However, that skepticism quickly faded when I rode the Dam Loop in Austin. It was a nice day for a ride with temps in the low 70s. These shorts are very comfortable and I like the fact that they are light weight. This will be important when I ride in the Texas heat. The chamois is very well designed and provides just the right amount of padding in all the key areas. They don’t provide as much compression as my Performance Elite shorts.
The other item I got was a pair of Spenco Classic gloves. These are old school crocheted gloves that are very comfortable. I was pretty bummed when I destroyed my Pearl Izumi crocheted gloves in my crash. I’d had them for almost 10 years and they never got stiff or wore out. The Spenco Classic gloves have the same suede-like palms as the Pearl Izumis, except with more padding. They appear to be very well made.
Last, but least, I got my all-time favorite jersey: the Primal Illegal Alien jersey. I have no idea how my wife managed to find this gem since Primal stopped making them years ago. My last one suffered greatly in my crash and at the hands of the paramedics who worked on me afterwards. There was no repairing that damage. This jersey had special meaning for me since it was a birthday gift from my wife and boys many years ago. It’s a very recognizable jersey and I’ve only ever seen it worn by one other person. Primal’s made some of the most distinctive jerseys over the years. I wish they would bring some of their older designs back because they are pretty unique.
We’ll see how the gloves and shorts hold up over time. All three were very reasonable and a good alternative to the higher-priced standard set by Pearl Izumi. So perhaps you can save some money without sacrificing performance.