Pearl Izumi Women’s Kit

Words Tahnee Juryn
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date May 28, 2015

The female mountain biker is perhaps the most difficult market group to understand. Speaking as a proud member of this demographic, there is no consistency between the diverse and dynamic personalities of women, especially when it comes to our riding apparel and equipment. While some women go to their LBS demanding their favourite grips in pink or floral-themed full face helmets, others sneer at the mere mention of “women-specific” while riding too-long bikes and wearing disproportioned riding shorts. I shudder to think of the design meetings behind closed doors of various riding apparel manufacturers, hairs being pulled and faces growing red over whether a shade of blue is “girly” or “feminine”. Take into consideration the variations of the sport (XC, AM, DH) along with rider confidence and knowledge, and you have a damn near impossible riddle to solve with an exponentially growing demand.

The Launch 3/4 jersey is airy with a loose fit while still hugging female curves and narrower shoulders.

I kept this all in mind while reviewing and riding in Pearl Izumi’s line of women’s mountain bike apparel. My first impressions were good: the kit, comprised of the Launch ¾ jersey, Summit shorts, and Divide gloves, look super rad together. I liked the design of the teals and blues on the matching kit that scream “I am tough but feminine”. A+ for making female riders look good but still look like women.

A nice bonus to the Launch jersey: a sunglasses wipe! Definitely handy on dusty park days for goggles too.

The fit was also ideal for my wide hips, narrow shoulders, and small hands. The jersey hangs light and comfortable, and while I never really like the inner-velcro short adjustment found in riding shorts as a fit “solution”, they also stay snug without any plumber’s butt scare. The gloves, to recycle a tired cliche, fit like a glove.

I did find when pedaling in the shorts that there was an occasional inner chafe from the seams that became irritating, and their shorter length left them with the tendency to bunch up in the crotch area. I wasn’t sure if the length was a “women’s apparel” thing or not, but these traits were noticed.

The placement of the pockets on the Summit shorts makes phone-wielding super awkward. Backpack stashing is a must.

The material of the Launch jersey and Divide gloves is highly ventilated and super breathable, making them ideal for those too-darn-hot summer days when no layers is the ideal amount. The Summit shorts on the other hand have a robustness to them while remaining lightweight, making them more versatile for multiple seasons and riding styles. I would feel confident riding in these all year round, while the jersey and gloves would require a cold and wet weather alternative in your wardrobe.

The Divide glove fits great and the no-velcro wrist means you won’t wreck delicates in the wash.

Now a fact about mountain biking for myself and many of my lady riding friends is that we like to have easy access to phones on a ride. Whether to take pictures of scenery or our amigas riding, or to send a quick text or email, being able to reach into your pocket to grab a phone (or iPod, etc) is important. The gloves meet this need with highly effective touch screen compatible material on the index finger and thumb. I love not having to peel off and wriggle on sticky sweaty gloves off mid-ride. On the other hand, I found that the pockets in the shorts place objects on top of your thigh, making pedaling with bulky items uncomfortable and physically impossible. While many will say not to ride with large items in your pockets, many others (myself included) continue to take that risk, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t have a phone on hand at will, like a cowboy without a gun holster.

The gloves also have the most consistently effective touch screen fingers I’ve encountered.

So a high five to Pearl Izumi for valiantly taking on the impossible task of pleasing all female riders. They’ve nailed the fit on these items, presenting a comfortable ride for summer days. The Launch jersey will be great to have for bike park days and spring-to-fall riding. I’d probably wear the Divide gloves everywhere if I could, just as long as they stayed out of the rain. The Summit shorts I’m torn about: I love their versatility but they may be a tad low key on the storage front. Ultimately, from an aesthetic and functional viewpoint, most women would feel confident and cool in Pearl Izumi’s latest mountain bike apparel for women. No stress ladies, they’re on the right track.

Maybe I’m biased, but the kit all together just looks good. Racing stripes guaranteed to make you 27% faster.


Tough, feminine and makes you 27% faster.

Trending on NSMB

Comments

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - June 2, 2015, 7:52 p.m.

Nice kit, cute rider chick, but… Her socks are too damn long!

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chubby5000
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chubby5000  - June 1, 2015, 10:09 a.m.

Haha 27% faster!

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tahnee-juryn
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Tahnee Juryn  - May 31, 2015, 2:25 p.m.

To add my two cents…I appreciate all the comments, whether of praise or critique, because I'd like to improve my writing in the style and for this website. As for the "women want touchscreens" comment, perhaps I need to reword my intentions but the two were not meant to be related in the way you think @oldmanbike:disqus . They are separate points: I liked that these women's clothes actually fit women while still offering the performance we require in riding gear, performance no different than what a man seeks in his gear. On the other hand, the touchscreen compatibility was a feature anyone would like to know about but, seeing as this is a review for women's mountain bike gear, I was speaking to that demographic in the article. I'm very happy to hear this feedback however, I hope to continue to be a voice for NSMB.com (if Cam gives the go ahead of course). Thanks everyone!

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drewm
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DrewM  - May 29, 2015, 9:05 a.m.

Great review Tahnee!

I don't personally care about quick access to my phone/camera while riding but it is definitely a growing consideration that companies need to take into account.

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oldmanbike
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OldManBike  - May 29, 2015, 5:28 a.m.

Glad to see a solid review of women's gear, written by a woman and without anything juvenile, on nsmb. In my opinion, there's still some clumsiness to it -- Do men's gear reviews describe anything as 'masculine?' And what does being a woman have to do with wanting gloves that work with touchscreens? So you're a step or two behind pinkbike in this area, but so is everyone and you're headed in the right direction, so thumbs up.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - May 29, 2015, 8:22 a.m.

Hang on a second. You are saying that in dealing with issues regarding women we are a step or two behind PB? And that everyone else is? Maybe I am misunderstanding you? And this is strange in light of you saying this about us earlier: "Kudos for the non-sexist & non-heterosexist language. NSMB a step ahead of the prevailing meathead mtb media again.

And you are challenging what a woman finds important based on her experience as a mountain biker (and one who works with female riders at the retail level) from your male perspective? You don't see the contradiction here?

You also sent us some props, and I appreciate that, but otherwise I think you are barking up the wrong tree. But maybe you should read this.

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oldmanbike
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OldManBike  - May 29, 2015, 9:04 a.m.

Seems like an overly defensive reaction to an overall positive comment.

What I'm saying is what I said: IMO it was a good review that would have been better without some tired gender language. If "Tough but masculine" would be a ridiculous subhead, is "Tough but feminine" the best you can do?

I'm not seeing those kinds of unforced errors in recent PB reviews of women's gear like this:

And I don't see PB running pieces with thumbnails like this:

You ask, "And you are challenging what a woman finds important based on her
experience as a mountain biker (and one who works with female riders at
the retail level) from your male perspective? You don't see the
contradiction here?" No. What I'm challenging is the editorial decision to describe in gendered terms something that would never be discussed in gendered terms in a men's glove review.

Whatever. Not here to fight, just offering one opinion about how to improve.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - May 29, 2015, 9:23 a.m.

Fair enough. I do appreciate your perspective and I agree that we have work to do in terms of bringing a consistent voice to reviews for women. When they are infrequent the sort of sign posting Tahnee employs seems appropriate.

Tahnee is sharp and this is her first piece for us. We think she's got potential but there is much to learn. As I have said recently, we have deliberately courted an audience that holds us to a higher standard. So thank you for doing that.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 29, 2015, 11:49 a.m.

You're always great with taking criticism on board Cam. I'm interested to know whether you (or whoever else edited this) made the decision to put the feminine angle on the two things @oldmanbike:disqus brought up. I doubt it. A woman highlighting some features that could be important for women in general, while not immune to error, obviates this criticism to me.

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oldmanbike
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OldManBike  - May 29, 2015, 12:12 p.m.

Wait. I hope this doesn't go this direction. In my book, the issues I raised were purely editorial issues. The
editors alone are responsible for those choices, no matter how they
originated. Give the poor author a break. (And by the way I disagree with your premise that if this was written by a woman then it obviates any criticism, but whatever.)

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 29, 2015, 12:32 p.m.

Yeah, waiting is a good idea. I don't think you understood me, and maybe that's my fault. To be clear, I know you're saying they're editorial problems, and I'm saying you don't know enough to say that. I'm asking for clarification on that from Cam as well as betting that it was not editorial.

I also don't have a problem with the things you do and I'm not beating on the author at all, I think she did a good job and said that elsewhere here.

I did not say that being written by a woman obviates any criticism. It's misleading to suggest that I did.

Wait.

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drewm
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DrewM  - May 29, 2015, 10:19 p.m.

Tahnee is sharp and earning her chops, but just wanted to point out that she has previously had an excellent piece (not a review) published on NSMB.com, and it's definitely worth a read:

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - May 30, 2015, 11:25 a.m.

Sorry - first review.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - May 30, 2015, 11:32 a.m.

Earlier in the editing process Tahnee made more of the feminine angle and we worked together to tone it down some - but in the end I wanted her perspective and insight (based on her riding experience and that she has gained from helping women in the bike store where she works) to shine through.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 30, 2015, 12:40 p.m.

My 2 cents is that the feminine angle is a positive.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 29, 2015, 11:14 a.m.

I get that this is a compliment overall, despite being 2/3 negative. My thoughts FWIW: In a context so dominated by men, I do not think it's unreasonable to make the text obvious that this is about aspects valued by women. What is typical or expected is often subtext, aspects less common warrant discussion. Seems appropriate to me. Tahnee also seems to make a reasonable case for highlighting the touchscreen compatibility of the gloves, and while my bald yet hairy masculine self would also value that feature, I feel it's making a mountain out of a molehill to actually have a problem with it.

To suggest Pinkbike is something to aim for in almost any respect, gender issues in particular, is telling. To me it detracts from the seriousness of the comment, but I'm sure there are people out there who are on that page.

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oldmanbike
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OldManBike  - May 29, 2015, 11:42 a.m.

Reasonable points. Certainly I'm talking about a couple wording choices here, not solving world hunger.

I may be off-base about PB in the larger scheme of things, I don't know. I wasn't aware of Batty's posts before. I'm a reader, not an insider of any sort. All I can say is that I've been consistently impressed over the last few months with PB's handling of stories involving women. Racer profiles that treat them like athletes not eye-candy, women-focused stories and reviews that don't trade on lazy stereotypes.

A couple that have struck me:

That was the basis for my comment.

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oldmanbike
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OldManBike  - May 29, 2015, 12:57 p.m.

Having now read up on the discussion that's resulted from the blog post Cam linked below, I can certainly see why my "step or two behind pinkbike" comment struck you as stupid.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 29, 2015, 1:21 p.m.

Didn't think you were stupid for a second. Just have a different perspective to me.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 29, 2015, 1:33 p.m.

And who is that bozo with the most popular comment on the first article you linked there? Haha. I put it down to a broken clock being right twice a day, but perhaps I'm being too harsh. Being harsh comes a little too easily to me as you might be able to tell.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 28, 2015, 4:11 p.m.

And may all the women (and guys too hopefully) out there riding MTB continue to trouble those in design and marketing by being diverse individuals.

Nice review.

Reply

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