Pearl Izumi’s ELITE In-R-Cool shorts are designed for serious cyclists. The most important feature is PI’s anatomically-shaped ELITE 3D chamois, which comprises three layers, all breathable and possessing four-way stretch. The chamois incorporates pressure-relief technology, and the fabric is made of a thermo-regulating carbon-based yarn. All that techy stuff means that the pad fits where cyclist meets seat, stretches when the cyclist moves, and is cooler than conventional chamois. It’s available both male and female versions.
The shorts come in a nine-inch length (the same features can be found on PI's tri shorts, cycling bibs, and winter-weight tights) . They’re a six-panel design with some shaped modifications: the main panel wraps completely around the inside and rear of the thigh, and two shaped panels on the front and outside of the leg provide additional support. Instead of elastic cuffs, the hem of ELITE shorts folds over and has little silicone grippers on the inside. All the seams are flat-stitched to prevent chafing, bunching and other discomfort. PI adds reflective designs at several points for improved visibility in the dark.
Like many current cycling shorts, they’re made from a polyester-Spandex® blend (generically known as “elastane”). PI uses something they call “coldblack” technology: a weave that looks like it’s black but is actually reflective, especially of UV light. This tech keeps the shorts cooler to the touch, even as the temperatures head for 100 degrees. The solid-weave fabric reflects 50% of UV, and two mesh at hips reflect 20% of UV light while improving ventilation.
ELITE is PI’s medium-quality line of gear for intermediate to advanced cyclists. It has technical improvements over their entry-level SELECT line, but is neither as techy nor as expensive as their PRO products.
My thoughts after a couple of years’ use
- They run somewhat small, but then they are supposed to be tight.
- They are definitely the coolest shorts among my five pairs
- They aren’t as “cushy” as some gel shorts, so new owners should build up those calluses.
- Some of the seams looked badly-sewn when I got them, but they’ve held up fine.
- After a year or so of laundering (in Woolite®, no fabric softener, line dried) the “coolblack” fabric turned “coolbrown.” They also seem a little transparent, like lululemon yoga pants
Overall, however, these are excellent shorts. I wouldn’t recommend them to a beginning cyclist, but more advanced road cyclists should find Pearl Izumi ELITE In-R-Cool shorts comfy, supportive and cool as the temperatures climb. Just don’t expect them to stay black!