In case you’re unaware, bike-specific shorts make mountain biking 100 times more enjoyable. I’m serious. If you’re not wearing padded shorts, please do yourself a favor and consider purchasing a pair before your next mountain bike ride. Trust me. Don't like the look of spandex? Don't worry. There are plenty of “normal-looking” baggy shorts on the market today that have a padded inner liner—including the Pearl Izumi Women’s Launch Short.
Fabric & Fit
Made of abrasion-resistant stretch fabric (94% nylon 6% elastane), the Launch Short is surprisingly soft considering I never once scuffed up these shorts when banging into rocks and trees on the trail, and random household items while getting ready. UPF 50+ within the fabric protects your skin from harmful UV rays.
The semi-form-fitting design was surprisingly semi-flattering (as far as mountain bike shorts go), and hit me a bit further up the knee than another pair of baggies I own. I liked the shorter fit from both a fashion and function standpoint. Aesthetically, I wasn't swimming in the shorts, as they actually fit the frame of my body (my XS was true to size). While riding, the cut was high enough so as not to rub behind my knee with every pedal stroke.
A detachable liner featuring Pearl Izumi's women's MTB 3D Chamois comes with the shorts and is secured by loops and snaps inside the body. The liner is made of a mostly polyester mesh fabric, which coupled with the lightweight feel of the outer shorts, kept me cool in warm weather.
Minerale technology claims to transfer moisture away from the skin, cut down on dry time and reduce odor. In my time testing out the shorts (which was over a period of several months), I didn't run into any moisture or odor problems. For comparison's sake, another pair of baggie shorts I own of a heavier fabric are much quicker to heat up and slower to dry.
I must mention that although the outer shorts fit just right, the liner was just a bit snug. It took some effort to pull it up and into place. The good news? Once it's in place, it isn't going anywhere! I was also able to wear another brand liner underneath with great results.
On the front, two zippered pockets adorn both sides. I could easily fit my whole hand and wrist inside (these aren't your favorite skinny jeans), and was able to store a mix of small food items, tools, keys and a cell phone safe and secure while riding. There are no pockets on the rear, but I can't imagine I'd put any rear pockets to use while on the bike anyway.
The shorts also feature a button-front closure with a zipper fly and an adjustable waist. You'll need to do any adjusting beforehand, though, as the elastic is hidden on the inside waistband of the shorts and secured with a small button. Not exactly the fastest method of adjusting I've used. However, once it's tailored to your size, you don't have to worry about it moving on its own. I didn't have to adjust anything on my sample size.
An additional feature includes reflective logos on both the front and rear fabric so you can be seen easier at night.
Pearl Izumi recommends washing these shorts with simple detergents with no additives. Additives in detergent can inhibit the technical performance of the shorts. Use the dryer carefully by placing it on a lower setting. Available in sizes XS to XXL. Made in Taiwan. MSRP: $100