Pearl Izumi Plus tights £100

Protection against winter’s worst

BikeRadar score 2/5

Generous use of AmFIB wind- and waterproof laminates mean these Plus tights offer a hardy barrier against the elements and are still admirably warm in just-above-freezing temperatures.

A fuzzy MicroSensor-Thermal liner stretches from the back of the knees upward and a DWR (durable water-repellent) coating covers the front and back of the upper section and inner half of the thighs. 

The DWR treatment protects well against road spray from the rear wheel but its curious omission on the lower legs – which are especially prone to spray from the front wheel deflected off of the down tube – means it doesn’t take long for that region to get soaked.

To be fair, your legs are still protected by AmFIB laminate, but if Pearl Izumi truly intend for the Gavia Plus to be a ‘cold and wet’ garment and not just a ‘cold’ one, some surface water repellency down below would be good to have.

Unfortunately, the Gavia Plus tights also suffer from some basic pattern oversights and fit better standing upright than on a bike (is this stuff designed for cycling or running?). The waist is cut far too high – even in the rear – and the height is maintained all the way around to the front where there is at least 50mm of excess material. Not only does this create some uncomfortable bunching throughout the midsection but it also makes the tights prone to slippage, especially since the chamois-free configuration also requires you to wear a pair of slippery shorts beneath.

Sure, there is a drawcord on hand but unless you’re planning on cinching it tight around your liver – instead of the bony protrusions above your pelvis where it actually has some purchase – expect to tug up on these things a few times during your ride and best of luck to you if you plan on using these off-road where the inevitably saggy crotch will invariably snag on the saddle.

Gripper elastic is limited solely to the zippered ankles though the openings aren’t tight enough to actually grip on to anything. The fit around the knees is also a bit looser than we would prefer but we can forgive the issue in this case as stretch laminate materials are notoriously difficult to use in that area and we have yet to see anyone totally nail it.

Just to make sure we weren’t crazy, we also tried on a smaller sample as we fell right in between two sizes. The girth was markedly reduced as expected and the fit around the knees improved but the limited-stretch AmFIB fabric then felt almost too tight on our 1.73m, 70kg (5ft9in, 155lb) tester’s build.  However, the waistband was nearly the same height, the ankles were still looser than they should be and, oddly enough, the length didn’t change much at all.  

All in all, the Gavia Plus tights provide good protection against the weather but a number of disappointing issues overshadow what would otherwise be a quality garment. Even recreational riders will likely be disappointed with the fit. Racer-types will probably want to pass altogether, though the bib version might work okay.

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