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Clothesline: Two women’s drop-tail bibs put to the test

Pearl Izumi Women’s P.R.O. In-R-Cool bib short $175

Pearl Izumi designers took a different approach to the issue of women’s natural breaks in bibs with the Women’s P.R.O. In-R-Cool bib. The straps come together in the back to hook to the bottom of the shorts, like a bra closure.

The P.R.O. Bibs have a similar clasp system in the front as the Gore Alp-X, thought it sits a bit lower. It didn’t chafe and certainly made the straps more comfortable.

The chamois is comfortable, easy to move in whether riding or running, and is very soft, but the leg bands are particularly sharp along the edge and over time they chafed annoyingly.

Returning to the natural break issue, these shorts missed the mark. The whole idea of the drop tail is to make going to the bathroom in bibs more simple, but unless I am willing to ask for help or use them as standard bibs, the clasp makes the process such an excessive operation that once I left them unhooked and just pulled them up like normal shorts. To their credit, the shorts stayed up fine.

Picture, if you will, a halter top. One loop goes over your head around your neck, rather than two straps going over your shoulders. From the halter around your neck, there is a tail that hangs down with hooks at the end. They hook to the “drop tail” running up your spine.

Most likely, the system would work great if it hooked just above the tailbone, or even at waistline, but at any rate the tail from the halter should drop down to the hooks. Instead, it hooks between the shoulder blades, and you bring the bottom part up to the top section.

When dressing, my shoulders are just flexible enough to allow this. When dressing underneath three layers with gloves on in a Porta Potty, there was absolutely no reaching the strap to hook it again, unless I asked an overly-friendly rider in the parking lot to go far beyond the call of courtesy and help me.

Besides that, it just wasn’t easy to pull the shorts down with the strap around my neck, and it turned into an all-around unpleasant experience.

The MSRP on these is $175, which is less expensive than the Gore options, but in the same price range. While they are a great pair of shorts on and off the bike, and nicely designed with women in mind, I use them like regular bibs and wouldn’t recommend them if you are hoping for shorts that won’t make you a burden when your group ride pulls over and it takes you five minutes longer than the men to pull your shorts up.

www.pearlizumi.com