Sometimes I feel a love/hate relationship with baggy shorts. I’ve been unimpressed overall with most of them for their lack of breathability and their “too baggy” feel on the trail. While I rarely wear bibs or standard bike shorts on my mountain bike, I have regretted wearing baggies on several occasions where I felt too hot or too encumbered by the bulky nature of some baggies. That said, however, I have found a great baggy shorts solution in the Pearl Izumi Divide MTB shorts.

Pearl Izumi Divide MTB Shorts Features:

  • Transfer stretch fabric
  • Snap and hook and loop front closure with zip fly
  • Adjustable interior waistband
  • Two hand pockets and one rear pocket
  • Detachable liner with MTB 3D Chamois®
  • 11.5 inch inseam (size medium)
  • Colors: Black/Shadow Grey (tested), Foothills Green
  • MSRP: $115

Pearl Izumi Divide Shorts Review

While I’ve been reluctant to switch back to full-on lycra on the dirt, I’ve become fairly impatient with many of the current baggy shorts designs. Many of them are simply too “freeride-ish” for intense trail riding. I’m in and out of the saddle, pounding through extended climbs and meandering my way through technical singletrack and I don’t want any baggy shorts that are too hot or too cumbersome. While the Pearl Izumi Divide Shorts are not super-streamlined, I thought their design would be compatible with my flavor of trail riding. As it turns out, they have been pretty darn solid.

I’ve come to appreciate the most recent trend in baggy shorts — the separate liner and short. On the surface, it seems a bit silly since many of these shorts are not much more than a pair of board shorts paired with a chamois liner. Luckily, the Divide Shorts are purpose-built for mountain biking.

What makes the Divide Shorts great is the 4-way stretch of the fabric. Hard pedaling and trail maneuvers are met with a flexible, non-constricting pair of shorts. Not once did I feel that the shorts were putting a damper on my climbing or descending. Not once did I think to myself, “Man, these shorts are hot and constricting,” like I have with other baggy shorts.

I’m giving the 3D MTB Chamois top marks for keeping the man area and sit bones happy. I’d daresay that this chamois is the most comfortable on the market today. Having been completely impressed with the Pearl Izumi PRO In-R-Cool Bib Shorts for road riding, it’s easy to see that Pearl Izumi knows how to make a good chamois.

The downside with having a separate liner and short is that sometimes they get quite contorted after washing. It can take some serious Boy Scout skills to untie the granny knots that my dryer put in them. But, if you separate them for washing you then have to search for two items instead of one. I will also mention that my pair of shorts did come from the factory with a sizable hole in the left pocket — I’m confident that was an anomaly, but I’ve got to mention it.

Good Divide

  • Stretchy material moves with you
  • Chamois is ultra-comfortable — even on a hardtail after the longest of climbs
  • Usable pockets
  • Breathes very well
  • In spite of length, stretchy fabric allows for unrestricted movement
  • Adjustable waistband dials them in for size
  • Super-stylish for apres-bike adventures

Bad Divide

  • Maybe a little longer than I’d prefer
  • Separate liner has its pluses and minuses
  • I had a hole in my left pocket (I’m sure it was an anomaly)

Bottom Line: Pearl Izumi Divide MTB Shorts

The Divide shorts offer ample length and style to satisfy the Lycra-averse crowd and the stretchy fabric never feels constricting under any riding conditions. I’m really liking these.

Buy Now: Pearl Izumi Bike Shorts at CompetitveCyclist

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. Short are great, customer service even better. Had a problem with my pearls, they took care of me and in a speedy manner…nothing but pearl from here on out for this dirt bag mtn biker…

  2. Why are pockets on bike shorts? I have never been out on a ride without my camelbak, which is were I hold all my stuff. Everybody I ride with uses some type of hydration pack to hold their excess gear.
    Pockets, pockets…I don’t need no stinking pockets!
    I use and love the Smartwool Betasso shorts that I purchased based on a review on this website. And you were spot on. Even though they do have pockets, they are so form fitted that they don’t get in the way.

    • I agree with you on the pockets. While riding, pockets are useless. It’s the casual (pre and post-ride bit that I’m referring to). I use the pockets all the time for my car keys and iPhone pre and post-ride, but would NEVER ride with anything in my shorts pockets.

      That’s what jersey pockets, saddle packs or hydration packs are for.

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