Pearl Izumi Levitate Bib Keeps Riders Floating On [Review]

The Pearl Izumi Expedition Pro bib chamois is a premium piece of cycling kit that's comfortable and functional.
Photo: Pearl Izumi

We don’t often review bibs on Singletracks. Mountain bikers and baggies have become largely synonymous, and bibs and tights roll with road bikers. There’s some self-aggrandizement amongst mountain bikers though, where we tell ourselves we’re too cool to wear bibs and they’re reserved for dorky roadies, overly concerned with aerodynamics.

While baggies and casual clothing have done a lot to expand the sport, there are still many mountain bikers who prefer a bib, especially on long rides. Pearl Izumi’s latest Expedition PRO Bib Short is a helluva bib with functionality mountain bikers can appreciate.

The deets and ride impressions

Photo: Hannah Morvay

The Expedition PRO Bib Short is now Pearl Izumi’s flagship bib priced at $265 and has the bells and whistles to match. It’s made from “luxurious Italian PRO Transfer fabric,” which comes from a mix of nylon, polyester, and elastane. Some of these materials are recycled fibers.

The edges are laser cut. Pearl Izumi calls these “raw edges” and they eliminate a sewn hem, known for inducing squeezing or “sausage leg” where the fabric ends. These have a 10.5″ inseam, dropping down just above the knees for more coverage. Cargo pockets along the thighs are perfect for stuffing a phone or snacks into. There’s a rear pocket at the base of the straps too.

All of this means that the inside of the Expedition feels soft and inviting. When I first donned the bib, I thought I’d need a large. It takes some wriggling to get everything where it needs to be; the legs situated right, the crotch all up in the crotch. When everything was in place, I realized that I was still in fact a medium. The Expedition PRO just fits like a second skin. Once it’s on, the bib feels like home.

The silicone grippers are spread throughout the interior base of the legs as mentioned, rather than a ring of silicone for a raw edge, which lends to its second skin appearance. The base of the legs stay right where they need to be. The cargo pockets along the side feel like a no-brainer and I’m not sure why every bib doesn’t have them. It’s absolutely the easiest place to grab your phone, keys, cards, or snacks from, especially while you’re moving.

Instead of a DWR coating on this fabric, Pearl Izumi uses something called PI Dry. A DWR coat will fade over time leading to water seepage through the material. PI Dry is said to offer permanent water repellency. PI Dry should last at least 100 washes whereas DWR lasts about 20. The technology is built in at the fiber level to “prevent the fabric from absorbing water.” Water sheds very naturally from the fabric. It’s still permeable, but it drys and breathes very well.

Lastly, the major area to cover with the Expedition Pro Bib is the Levitate chamois. The name itself is downright promising. The Levitate is a dual-density chamois. The bottom layer uses a high-density foam, damping vibrations from the terrain. The top layer is an Ultra high density foam, giving riders “more travel” to use above their saddle for a more forgiving ride.

The chamois has a relief channel, like a saddle would for perineum pressure relief and the Infinite Edge which tapers away from the central area of the chamois for a more seamless look and feel. Often with a thick chamois you get the feeling of duck butt or a diaper, where the foam doesn’t really contour to your crotch and starts to fold and protrude.

Again, it took a minute of adjustment to get the bib and chamois into place, but it’s certainly one of the more comfortable chamois I have ridden in. I haven’t had it shift around on me. By pressing a finger into either side of the chamois, it’s easy to feel the difference between both densities and so far, it’s kept me levitating — for lack of a better word — above the saddle, without hot spots or stickiness.

Last but not least, the Expedition has a drop tail. This is likely something most riders have been through; applying anti-chafe cream, yanking up the bib, and getting ready to head out the door when doody calls. The Expedition Pro has a drop tail so you can pull the rear down, push your hips back, and… you know. It’s not as comfortable as completely removing it, but that should serve as a reminder not to get too caught up on Instagram, because your friends are ready to ride.

Closing thoughts

Photo: Hannah Morvay

If you’re reading this, that likely means you’re someone who puts in the miles and needs a bib that will support you along the way. $265 is not a small amount of money, but the Pearl Izumi Expedition Pro bib is a premium piece of kit ready to keep you comfortable on long rides. Inviting and durable fabric, drop tail and cargo pocket functionality, and the right fit make the bib a great choice.

Party laps

  • Pockets and droptail
  • Second skin fit
  • Sheds water well and still breathable

Pros and cons of the Pearl Izumi Expedition Pro Bib chamois

Dirt naps

  • Pricey

Related articles

  1. 9 Men's Mountain Bike Shorts Under $100 for Summer
  2. These Women-Owned Brands Are Making Fierce Mountain Bike Apparel
  3. Do you Wear a Chamois for Mountain Biking? [Survey]
  4. Aussie Grit Ignite Shorts Combine Bib Chamois and Baggy Shorts in One [Review]