Tested: Pearl Izumi’s X-Alps Launch shoes

Pearl Izumi is well known among cyclists for its line of apparel and shoes, but if you’ve been a diehard flat-pedal fan, then Pearl Izumi has likely been off your radar. That, however, is all about to change. New for Peal Izumi’s 2018 spring lineup is the X-Alp Launch shoe. The X-Alp is sold in two models—one that features a stiffer shank, allowing for the use of clip-in pedals, and the other strictly designed to work with flat pedals. Our flat-pedal testers have struggled to find a top-quality pair of shoes from any company other than one—and that is due to that company’s exceptional rubber compound that provides a tacky connection between the rider’s shoe and pedal. Pearl Izumi has a great reputation for its line of clip-in shoes, so while we had our doubts, we thought the company might have what it takes to make a great flat-pedal shoe.

Tech Features:

The X-Alp Launch shoes are available in men’s and women’s versions, as well as flat or clip-in models. We snagged a pair of the men’s flat-pedal shoes, which are sold in two colorways— Smoked Pearl or a darker color called black/Shadow Grey. The X-Alps come in European half sizes from 39 to 49. Pearl Izumi’s goal for its new shoe was to provide riders with a comfortable, durable and lightweight shoe, perfect for all-day adventures. The flat-pedal-specific shoes are ideal for trail riding but could also be used by more aggressive riders. Pearl built these shoes with a dual-compound Vibram Megagrip sole for added traction and an EVA midsole for shock absorption. The X-Alps offer quality construction with bonded seamless uppers and a reinforced toe cap. Our size-44 test shoes weighed in at 750 grams for the pair and sell for $150.

Field test results:

The X-Alps are a quality shoe designed for the needs of trail riders. Our test shoe had a comfortable lace-up fit, a stiff sole for pedaling performance and a sturdy toe cap, which provided ample protection against rocks and other trail debris. The X-Alps fit true to size and have a lightweight feel compared to other flat-pedal shoes on the market. They are priced competitively too. The X-Alps offered enough traction with our favorite pedals to keep us satisfied and in control, but they weren’t the tackiest soles we’ve ridden. Throughout our testing, these shoes proved to be durable with no signs of pre-mature wear. Overall, our test riders, who were skeptical at first, agreed that Pearl Izumi’s latest flat-pedal shoes can compete with all the rest. If you’re a flat-pedal rider who wants to try out something new from a company that knows a thing or two about biking shoes, then check out Pearl Izumi’s X-Alps Launch shoes. www.pearlizumi.com


• Fits just like a tennis shoe
• Durable and quality construction


• Soles are not quite as tacky as other shoes we’ve tested


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