It’s already in the starting blocks: the notorious transitional period. These spring days can be very fickle. If you want to get on your bike now, you‘ll have to be prepared for all eventualities and weather changes. Of course, this ability to change is primarily required from outerwear, but other equipment should also play along. And that’s exactly where Pearl Izumi comes in. Fortunately, the American bike brand icon is broadly positioned in the road bike sector and has three lines to offer, which reflect the different requirements of road bikers. The heart of the range is certainly the ELITE series: a perfect blend of comfort and performance. But Tobi’s spring test didn’t stop there – it went through Pearl Izumi’s entire range!
Onto the bike …
„ … with the jacket: Sometimes, the transitional period is not so easy. You ride out in the morning when it’s freezing cold – but later, around noon, the temperatures climb a lot, so that the outfit you chose for the morning is already much too warm. And this is where Pearl Izumi’s ELITE Escape Convertible comes in: It‘s a jacket that turns into a vest in a flash and vice versa. It feels just as at home at temperatures around 10°C as it does at 20°C.
The material is kept thin, but provides good thermal insulation thanks to its windproof properties. Its breathability is also good for a jacket in its price range. After all, whenever you’re under a lot of strain, you have to make sure that it doesn’t get too wet underneath your clothing. The thin textiles also make the jacket/vest look good when stowed away; the packing volume is surprisingly small. This is certainly an important aspect for a transitional jacket! In addition, this characteristic qualifies the ELITE Escape Convertible to be carried along as a constant emergency companion in summer as well.
The size chart worked reliably: I ordered size L according to the chart – and it fitted. The fit is typically ‘race tight’, but not too tight – in other words, exactly as the ELITE series wants to be.
Intelligently placed zippers on the front of the shoulders make the sleeves and shoulder pieces surprisingly easy to take off. This means that the sleeves cannot be zipped off individually, but form a bond with the narrow back part. This is good, because you don’t run the risk of losing a single sleeve. Plus, the additional material on the back also makes a difference in the warmth performance of the jacket/vest.
But I particularly like the safety aspect of the ELITE Escape Convertible! For one, of course, the intense bright colouring of the yellow version is immediately noticeable. But also, Pearl Izumi’s HiViz technology is used here, which converts existing light into conspicuous signal colours even in poor lighting conditions. I always felt very safe, even on dark February evenings.
… with the pants: I found these pants very comfortable and warming. Their wearing comfort was not only due to the SELECT Escape Chamois, but also by the smooth and cuddly material, which easily wicks away moisture and leaves rain outside. The cut is – as you would expect from tights – tight, but comfortable. The size chart and the actual size match up, too.
I chose them as transitional pants. And was taught a better lesson … because from my point of view, these pants are also suitable for year-round riders. With them, temperatures can easily go below 10°C. By the way, I tested the version without bibs. Generally, I would recommend the variant with bibs. The SELECT Escape Thermal Cycling is a real alternative for riders who want to train outdoors all year round. But of course it also works well during the transitional period, as the high-quality fabric ensures good moisture transport and is not too thick.
… with the toe warmers: The matching ELITE line accessories for your feet! I chose the ELITE Thermal Toe Cover in L/XL for shoe size 44, which was a great fit. The cut-out for pedal cleats is large enough and the workmanship overall is great – they’re very sturdy. So far I‘ve only used overshoes if anything, so I was a bit sceptical if these things would do the trick.
I was a little surprised when I compared riding with them to riding without them. The difference was quite clear – the toe warmers have a good heat output. Their advantage is quite clear: they‘re used at decisive points of the shoe, where wind, cold and rain penetrate it most. And in the neon yellow version they even contribute to safety.
… with the gloves: Matching the convertible wind jacket, I tested the Escape Softshell Lite Gloves extensively. These are very light while offering excellent wind and cold insulation.
The grip on the handlebars is fully guaranteed thanks to silicone strips on the inner surfaces. And if you ever want to check your Strava route on your smartphone, you don’t even have to take off the gloves, as their fingertips are suitable for operating a smartphone or bike computer. And it really works – I tested it extensively.
In my opinion, the temperature range in which you can wear the gloves is even wider than the manufacturer promises. Officially it is stated to be between 4°C – 7°C. However, if you‘re properly warmed up, I would still use these gloves up to 2°C before I would switch to warmer and heavier ones.
My Pearli conclusion regarding the transitional outfit
The jacket, which can also act as a vest, is simply practical and kills two birds with one stone. For the hobby biker, this is a great piece at a good price. The vest alone can also be used as an emergency vest in summer, which every road biker needs, due to its small packing size. But if you call yourself a pro, you might be interested in a higher quality level out of Pearl Izumis product range.
I would also recommend my other test subjects. Their sizes always corresponded to the manufacturer’s specifications, which I personally find very important – especially if you want to buy them online. Plus, in today’s traffic, their reflective elements are very important.“