I have been a huge fan of PI stuff for twenty-plus years now. My only quibble has been some inconsistency in sizing in recent years, as PI started upsizing stuff for us fatter Americans. Thus, I have had to return some XL jerseys for Large, however, on shorts, bibs, knicks, and tights I have stuck with XLs with good success.
Recently I retired two pair of bibs that I have had for probably ten years-and one only because an errant saddle bag strap wore a hole in the inner thigh! I replaced them with one pair of the new PROs and one of these Elites. I wanted to see if the PROs were worth the 30% premium over the workhorse Elite models.
Sizing-wise, both pair of XLs fit my 6'! 182lb frame well. Though I am blessed with a 32 waist, I do have large glutesupper thighs, which has always necessitated I go XL but then run the risk of a looser waist or less compression in the thighs. That was not the case with either here. Both provided firm and comfortable compression with no excess material evident anywhere. I will say that the PRO might run just a tad smaller, which is exactly what I was once told by an inside rep at PI.
Regarding finish, the PRO clearly has a more refined look with smoother and flatter seams and a few more panels used in its construction. I cannot say that I discerned any difference in the feel of the fit as a result of this, however.
Finally, the pad in the PRO felt a bit firmer and, well, a bit more pro. But for my typical two-to-three-hours-max ride, the Elite pad held up well and was consistent with other brands I have tried. If you're a long-distance rider, you may find the slightly firmer PRO ride an advantage.
Summing it up, the PRO model is clearly a step up above the Elite but for a fairly significant premium. If you are more value-conscious and are not a typical four-hour-plus rider, you will likely be happy with the cheaper Elites. But if you are one whose ego demands having PRO on your logos, and you are a high-mileage rider, you will likely find the additional premium over the Elite worth it.
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