July 18, 2014
These shoes were made for biking! And - er - walking?
Some mountain bikers consider having to get off and walk a failure.
Others look on a bit of hike-a-bike as an essential part of a good day in the mountains. The Pearl Izumi X-Project shoes were designed to give all the stiff-soled pedalling advantages that racers and hard-charging riders look for, while still allowing you to dismount for cyclocross run-ups, Walna Scar-style push-slogs, and just plain old cafe stops without crippling yourself or walking like a road rider.
The upper on the 1.0 is thin and light, with minimal seams and stitching and maximal venting. The stripped-down features still give you a pair of velcro straps, an easy-to-use ratchet strap and a padded upper strap with adjustable anchor point.
Down below, there’s a lurid, see-through sole with hollow lugs topped with grippy rubber. Underneath the lugs is a woven, tapered carbon shank that is ‘tuned’ to flex enough to let you walk and run in them, while under the heel, trainer-like EVA foam cushions the heel from running impacts.
With usual lack of thought, I first used these at the 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross, where there is probably an hour and a half of hike-a-bike. Despite some expected heel rub after five hours of racing, the shoes allowed me to run, trudge and climb comfortably. Since then, they’ve been raced and ridden all over. Heel fit is fantastic and they allow flat-out run-ups in ’cross races while still feeling very stiff to ride in. I’d say they’re more aimed at this than Lake District romps – and they’re way too vented for winter use (you want the 2.0s for that).
Overall: Stiff to ride in, (just) flexible enough to walk and run in. For the small number of riders praying for this kind of shoe, here it is.