The Launch model has been one of Pearl Izumi’s signature baggy shorts for many years. Spring 2017 saw a refresh of this model, and I’ve been testing the latest for most of this calendar year.
Pearl Izumi’s Launch Short is a lengthy baggy short that hits me well below the knee. While your mileage may vary depending on your height and the length of your legs (I’m admittedly on the shorter end of the scale), the Launch trends towards the length of a DH short. Yet that doesn’t keep it from performing well when seated and pedaling.
Most of the Launch features are pedal-oriented, despite the length. The nylon ripstop fabric is durable, yet mid-weight and water resistant with DWR treatment. Elastene material mixed into the fabric helps the shorts stretch and move on the bike. The closure consists of a snap front with a zip fly, with internal waist adjustment. If you so desire, you can add a belt thanks to external belt loops, but I found those unnecessary thanks to the internal adjustment.
If hauling gear is what you’re worried about, there are two deep zippered hand pockets, with a third zippered cargo-style pocket on the bottom of the right leg.
On the other hand, if you’re concerned with pedaling, the shorts come with a detachable 3D Tour Chamois–one of Pearl Izumi’s nicest.
Out on the Trail
The Launch shorts hang longer on my frame than some other baggies, which immediately makes me consider these more of a gravity-oriented short than a trail short. But as they say, you have to get up to get down, and most of my rides include pedaling to the top, even if we do get a shuttle bump up Monarch Pass.
While pedaling, the Launch flexed very well with my body’s movements, thanks to the elastene incorporated into the fabric. Even if I loaded my pockets with a phone, granola bar, map, or trash, the shorts still rode comfortably without flopping around.
Pearl Izumi labels the short as a mid-weight fabric, slated for temperatures from 60° to 100°F, according to their website. However, I found the shorts to run very warm when the temperatures broke 80°. This could be due to my personal thermostat also running hotter than average but as the temps climbed, I found myself sweating a lot in these shorts, and eventually opting for a lighter weight short. That said, I found the Launch very comfortable down into the 50s and even 40s. Thanks to the long leg covering my knee, I could wait for lower temperatures than normal before adding a knee warmer to my kit.
The mid-weight fabric proved durable despite some off-the-bike forays, leading me to choose the Launch for gravity days in the bike park. The shorts paired well with my G-Form knee pads, with no undue catching.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t spend all that much time in the 3D Tour Chamois, as I now wear bibs 100% of the time when riding singletrack. I added a baggy-specific bib liner to the Launch, and found the pairing to work out great. That said, I used the 3D Tour on several commutes to and from town which, at 32 miles round-trip, is no mean feat. I found the chamois to ride comfortably even without Chamois Butt’r, and the venting in the fabric helps drain sweat away.
As the temps climbed I found the Launch to lie hot upon my skin, but in cooler temperatures, and especially during gravity riding, the durable yet comfortable fabric and thoughtful features made the Launch a reliable partner on the trail.
Thanks to Pearl Izumi for providing the Launch shorts of review.