Pearl Izumi’s Expedition bib shorts nearly nail a ‘feel nothing’ level of comfort thanks to the fabric used and a great pad. However, a small elastic tab on the inside can become a noticeable niggle, and the price might be a bit of a turn-off for the budget-conscious.
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The Expedition bib shorts from Pearl Izumi are made to carry a bunch of kit while keeping you nice and comfy during those bigger rides. As such, it gets the brand’s Elite Escape 1:1 Chamois that’s built with a floating top sheet that’s intended to reduce friction.
Then, the whole bib short uses a compressive ELITE Transfer fabric that’s made with some recycled fabric. It’s a super-thin material that’s been laser cut to reduce seams stretching around your shoulders.
Along with the cool fabrics and the smart chamois, there are three pockets, two at the outside of either thigh and one at the back, large enough to stow a packable jacket. There are also a couple of impressively soft and unobtrusive silicone grippers on each cuff.
I usually go for a medium in both bibs and shorts, and the Expedition fits me to a tee. As a rider who’s mainly found aboard a mountain bike, I wore these bib shorts under baggies.
As soon as you stretch the straps around your shoulders, it’s super clear how comfortable the Expedition bib shorts are.
That very same comfort continues as you get into the thick of it, hours into a ride. That’s mostly thanks to the laser cut and super thin shoulder straps. They conform to the body really nicely to the point where they become absolutely unnoticeable.
The pad is perfectly comfortable, too, performing just as well through to the closing hours of a big ride. However, I’ve found a minor niggle; there’s a small elastic hoop on the inside of the bib short.
It can sometimes get really noticeable and not particularly comfortable, especially when you’re hunched over the bars or just sat during a deserved mid-ride break. It’s not totally clear why it’s built into these shorts unless you want to hang them by it when drying.
It’s not just about comfort with the Pearl Izumi Expedition bib shorts, though, as they come with a pretty respectable carrying capacity, especially if you’re not one for baggies. As mentioned before, the pocket at the rear is vast enough to store packable jackets, and the pockets at either side are ideal for phones, keys, and multitools.
However, if you’re looking to carry loads of kit in your bib shorts, there are other options out there that get even more pockets. For example, Pearl Izumi’s Cargo Bib Liner has many of the same features but an additional two pockets at the back. That one will save you a tenner too.
Offering up some pretty firm competition are the Madison Roam Cargo Bib Shorts, rocking the same number of pockets as the Pearl Izumi Cargo Bib Liner, but it’s priced at £80, a significant saving against the Expedition Bib Shorts. However, the straps aren’t quite as invisibly comfortable as Pearl Izumi’s offering.
Suppose you’re looking for all-out comfort and can forgive a niggly elastic loop and an upper-end price tag. In that case, you’ll get on swimmingly with the Pearl Izumi Expedition Bib Shorts. They’re more than comfortable enough for long days in the saddle, and the carrying capacity on offer is super useful.