The Pearl Izumi Launch is a very solid choice for aggressive riders who don pads from time to time. It’s conservative and well built and should last more than a few seasons. It comes with a pretty good chamois liner, making it a good value.
Fit The Launch shorts run on the roomy side. They easily fit hip padded shorts, but for cross country riding where you are moving around on the seat a bunch, they might snag—less of an issue with more stand-up style lift riding. I love the grippy elastic strip at the back of the higher waistline to prevent plumber’s crack/slippage. It comes with the 3D tour chamois, a solid, well-fitting liner, though with padding on the slimmer side. The short is very long, with a 15-inch inseam on the mediums.
Style The launch is a nice, conservative short. It’s athletic looking, with understated colors and a bit on the baggy and long side. You won’t stand out wearing these, which might just be your aim.
Comfort The loose fit and stretchy fabric make for a comfortable ride. The Launch is a nice short to wear if you are on an all-day expedition (though you’d consider swapping out the liner for something beefier in that case). Reasonably breathable, though not the top choice for a hot day due to their heavier fabric.
Features The Launch has three zippered pockets, and they are all enormous. The rubber-tabbed zipper pulls are easy to operate, even with gloves on. There is no waist tightening system, apart from the belt loops, but the elastic strip on the back waistline makes up for that, even if you weigh down the pockets with snacks and a phone.
Protection These shorts are meant to protect (while not being too heavy and burly). The long inseam should keep the trail rash to a minimum if it comes to crashing, and the looser fit will interface well with all manner of pads. It’s cut from a very stretchy, very durable fabric.
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HOW WE TESTED
Our testing team tested the shorts in and around Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota; Sedona and Tucson, Arizona, Jackson, Wyoming and Moab, Utah over a period of two months on asphalt, gravel, and singletrack in temperatures ranging from the low 40’s to the mid-90’s and on distances that ranged from six miles to 56. Our testing team did not intentionally set out to test the durability of each pair of shorts in a crash. Instead, to judge the shorts’ ability to withstand impact, they scrutinized their construction materials, the weight of the fabric and the stitching. Though, there may have been some crashes anyway.