Our path to success is strewn with attention to detail and world-class innovation and so in true Pearl Izumi fashion, when we wanted to find the champion among nine of our cycle shop speed styles for racers, our test team took to the A2 Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, NC to get to the bottom of it the only way we know how. Each of the contenders had full aerodynamic design but the true test was to see how the gear performed relative to a racer’s individual style. Because we know that riders tend to favor certain speeds and angles over others, and this is where the performance of their cycling clothing is truly tested. Our aim is to produce gear for cyclists that not only responds to their personal demands on the road, but also serves to enhance their overall performance.
When it comes to cycle gear design, the aerodynamics are so finely tuned that even the slightest change in the length of a sleeve makes a big difference to energy saving and overall performance. Nine suits were put to the test at three different wind speeds: 25, 30 and 35mph, paying particular attention to how they influenced the performance of the rider at varying angles and speeds. By applying weighted averages we were able to collate the data and bring it down to just one number that showed which of the bike clothing really had the best performance of the lot. Pearl Izumi’s Training Jersey was used as a baseline for the test and its performance in the wind tunnel was then compared to that of our Speed Jersey with Shorts, a Race Suit, and finally the Mach 5. The point of it all? To determine which of our garments stood out as the top performer.
The test results showed significant improvements in performance between our baseline Training Jersey and its competitors. First up was our Speed Jersey, which showed an average energy saving of 6.6 watts. With variations in speed and angle, this jersey saved between 5-20 watts energy. Riders actually feel faster when wearing this jersey, and with good reason – they actually are going faster than when they wear the Training Jersey. It was no surprise that our Race Suit showed results that blew both the Speed and Training Jersey out of the water. To get into the science of it – the longer sleeve means more aero fabric on the arms, which in turn results in less drag on the rider. Less drag means increased energy savings and higher performance. If a rider were to wear a full-sleeve suit with the advantage of full aero fabric, the gains would be more significant. And combined with a speed sleeve – even faster. (Take a look at this cool comparison we made that illustrates more benefits of body coverage while cycling). The Race Suit delivered an average energy saving of 18.9 watts, with a range of 12-45 watts during the testing process. The Mach 5 performed like a beast – an average energy saving of 25.4 watts, with a range of 15-54 watts throughout all the wind tunnel tests.
Choosing the right gear for cycling can be an overwhelming task and that is why we’re here doing what we do best. An average racer looking for optimal performance from their garments with every ride can’t go wrong with a long sleeve Race Suit. It was the singular stand-out option during the tests, with the most consistent delivery of great results overall. Its lowest energy saving was an impressive 20 watts, while 30 watts was the highest. If you’re a racer looking to invest in speed and moreover, consistency in high performance, then the long sleeve Race Suit is your best shot. We have the proof. Athletes who want the kind of cycling gear that gives them a performance edge can’t go wrong with our Speed Jersey. Not the kind of results as with our Race Suit or Mach 5, but still better than our Training Jersey and good enough to make it onto our list. The faster you go, the more energy you will save. And that’s good math in our book.