Pearl Izumi Elevate Shorts

Review: Pearl Izumi Elevate Shorts

Short makers take note: zippers rule

When it comes to riding clothes, the cream definitely rises to the top. If I really start liking a pair of riding shorts, I’ll reach for them every time I’m going out–even if there’s a cleaner pair in my closet. The Elevate shorts have held that unenviable honor for several months now, with a combination of first-rate fit, secure storage and a touch of water resistance.

Many shorts these days use a Velcro fly, which probably saves weight, but I’m neurotic enough that I can’t leave the house for a ride if the two sides of the fly aren’t perfectly flush and aligned, so the zipper fly used here is something that I appreciate every time I have to take a wee in the woods. Plus, the sound of Velcro makes me feel like I should be sitting at a knee-high table sketching undecipherable pictures of whatever it was I liked to draw in preschool.

Zippers also serve as closures for the vertical hand pockets on both legs as well as the horizontal waist pocket in back. The hand pockets have room for a phone and then some, and while the back pocket is smaller, it can still fit a phone if you’d rather stash yours there.

Pearl Izumi Elevate Shorts


The Elevates’ 15-inch inseam comes down over the knee, offering plenty of gaper-gap protection. They’re constructed of 95% nylon with 5% spandex, yielding some nice four-way stretch on top of an already relaxed fit. The waist is adjustable with internal Velcro straps, which can also serve as anchor points for the button loops on a chamois short or bib liner.

The combination of a slightly heavier construction and the DWR treatment is enough to ward off light spray from a few consecutive puddles or wet flora, but the Elevates aren’t going to do much for you in an actual rain storm.

There are shorts that come with a chamois for half of the Elevates’ $100 asking price, but you wouldn’t buy two $2000 used cars that both have blown head gaskets instead of one $4000 car that doesn’t, would you? I’ve worn these on just about every ride since August, for everything from days in the bike park to after-work rips and six-hour adventures, and they haven’t flinched with so much as even a loose stitch. A few days after each use, they mysteriously rise out of my laundry pile for just one more ride before they really need to be washed.


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