The Pearl Izumi Pro Air Vs Shimano Evolve Jersey is a hotly contested battle between two exceptionally comfortable and lightweight cycling jerseys that were designed for speed and longer rides.
These two excellent cycling jerseys have been carefully designed and tested to provide the rider with a lightweight, breathable and anatomically fitted experience, which in simple terms means you glide through the air like a greased eel on your fancy road bike.
Let’s face it, most road cycling jerseys follow a similar pattern, namely in the slim fit, front zipper and three rear cargo pockets and these two big dawgs are no different.
Basically it comes down to the little details that make the big differences – the fabric chosen, the fit of the jersey and the little extra extras, such as waterproof pockets, silicone grippers and reflective elements.
Guess what? The Pearl Izumi Pro Air and the Shimano Evolve both contain a lot of minor details, so let’s stick with it.
Pearl Izumi Pro Air vs Shimano Evolve jersey: price and availability
In UK you can buy both Pearl Izumi Pro Air Jersey and Shimano Evolve Jersey from Freewheel United Kingdom for £ 199 and £ 149.99 respectively.
US customers can also purchase the Pearl Izumi Kit directly from their site, where it costs $ 200. Several sites in the United States also sell the Shimano Evolve jersey, with prices ranging from $ 110 to $ 150.
Pearl Izumi Pro Air vs Shimano Evolve jersey: materials and fit
Both jerseys are cut to fit the skin perfectly, as they both look and feel extremely racy right out of the package. Shimano’s Evolve jersey is arguably the tightest here, but that’s because it features some specially designed panels to promote the perfect cycling posture when you’re on the bike.
In short, the rear panel is stretchy enough that it doesn’t get too tight when folded up in full aero mode, while the arms also move freely when you change positions on the bar. Having said that, it’s tight on my arms, and caused a red line on my biceps. Maybe I need to stop training?
The Pearl Izumi Pro Air Jersey is incredibly light and feels like riding naked (or at least shirtless). Although similar to the Shimano in terms of comfort, it is actually slightly less cloying thanks to the fact that it is so light.
When it comes to fabric, the Pearl Izumi offering is arguably the most technical, with an Italian knit and an ultra-light French-made stretch woven Pro Transfer fabric with something called “In-Rcool”. We’re not 100% convinced on this, but it’s very cool and very light.
The Shimano model, on the other hand, takes a dual-layered approach, with the fairly traditional stretch fabric on the exterior and a built-in quick-wicking base layer that wicks sweat and helps keep things cool.
As a result, both are rather unnecessary in the dead of winter, where you’ll essentially be freezing your nipples. Pair it with a jacket or gilet, and you’ll be fine, but these are most definitely for summer use.
Pearl Izumi Pro Air vs Shimano Evolve jersey: features and style
Personally, I’m not convinced by the Shimano Pro Air in green, which actually looks more like a vibrant turquoise, but that’s just a personal taste. However, it comes in a much more attractive charcoal.
The Pearl Izumi jersey can be found in different colors, but Freewheel only offers it in a discreet navy blue with a contrasting neon yellow zipper. These subtle hues look great on the bike and complement a range of bib shorts without making you look like a mismatched noob.
Pearl Izumi also offers three deep and secure pockets on the back, one of which has an additional zippered security pocket to store cards, cash and whatever else you don’t want to take with you.
Neon piping and BioViz reflective elements extend to the rear, which adds an extra element of visibility when riding in low light conditions. Likewise, the hem has a powerful silicone grip that does a great job of keeping things in place when fully folded up.
Above all, it uses an innovative construction method, which means all the panels are glued rather than stitched, so it’s incredibly soft against the skin. Closer to wearing a racing suit than a jersey.
Shimano’s clamp is not as patterned or as aggressive as its rival Pearl Izumi, but I had no issues with it during faster sprints. Although the back pockets lack a zipped part, which is a shame.
Additionally, Shimano’s cooling vents are found in very specific places, such as the chest, armpits and shoulders, which means the body stays warmer on cooler mornings. I found myself not having to put on a vest when I went out with the Shimano Evolve, whereas I did with the Pearl Izumi Pro Air.
Pearl Izumi Pro Air vs Shimano Evolve jersey: performance
The Pearl Izumi Pro Air and Shimano Evolve are both big ticket items, with around £ 50 separating the two. The extra money ordered by the Pearl Izumi jersey goes towards glued panels and trick fabrics, which feel good against the skin.
The materials are also more natural and are generally lighter against the skin, but Shimano’s attention to fit and shape is second to none. It is tight in the right places and does not move when changing position on the bike.
The clip on the Pearl Izumi jersey is slightly more aggressive and even the fully loaded back pockets don’t bounce back, and the addition of the zip area only adds an extra dollop of peace of mind when carrying cash. , maps and other important items.
Both jerseys feel extremely expensive and are starting to stray into Rapha, Assos, and the upper end of Castelli range territory, but both contain similar professional characteristics. After testing both, I felt the Pearl Izumi Pro Air generally performed better and provided the best overall fit. It was cool, comfortable and good aero, although I had to put on a gilet on a few colder occasions.
Shimano offers some sort of base layer built in with their jersey which helped keep things warm and I found I remained fairly comfortable throughout a ride even when the wind picked up. . But the pockets of this jersey are quite small and it doesn’t offer an easy-to-access zip section.
Pearl Izumi Pro Air vs Shimano Evolve jersey: verdict
Although very similar in their approach, the two jerseys fit and feel very different when stacked against each other. Is it worth spending more on the Pearl Izumi Pro Air? In short, yes. The fabrics are nice and the fit is overwhelmingly excellent, but the money is downright ridiculous.
Shimano seems like a better price, but do you really want to spend that kind of dose on a Shimano branded product when you might be seen at Rapha, Le Col or Castelli? It’s tough, but Pearl Izumi does a much better job of feeling like a true premium player.