With so many great options in the flat shoe market these days how do you even begin to pick the shoe that is right for you? Well Pearl Izumi threw their hat in the ring with their new X-Alp Flow shoe. We got our feet in a pair of these and have been putting them through the paces over the last few months. Here is our take on how they ride.
THE LAB The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Flow mountain bike shoes feature a dual compound sole with sticky, siped rubber on the ball of the foot to help create maximum grip on your pedal pins while the Chevron shaped lugs made from a harder compound rubber are used on the toe and heel of the sole to help with durability. The design also lends itself useful for creating traction on those hike-a-bike sections.
Inside the shoe you will find an EVA midsole to help absorb shock of hard landings and trail chatter.
The uppers are seamless and use minimal overlays, which helps keep the shoes light and comfortable while reducing the chance for hot spots by molding to the shape of your foot. Anything that maximizes comfort is a big plus for us when putting in long days on the bike! They are currently available in three colors: Pine green, navy blue and black.
THE DIRT The first thing I noticed about the X- Alp Flow when I opened the box was how nice they looked. This is a shoe you could spend all day riding in and then head straight to your favorite brewery without changing and not look like you are wearing some clunky riding shoes.
Not only do they look good, but they feel light in comparison to the Ride Concepts Wildcats and TNT’s that I had been wearing before this. The shoes weigh in at 340 grams, or 12oz, in a size 43 shoe. That weight savings comes at a price, and that price is the lack of protection and padding offered by the X-Alp Flow. If you aren’t a hardcore shredder skidding through boulder fields or frequently dabbing in root balls, then perhaps this is your dream shoe.
Ok, enough about aesthetics and comparisons. How do they feel on the bike? Well the sole is not as flexy as a pair of Vans but nowhere as stiff as my RC TNT’s. Instead they’re somewhere in the middle. They have enough flex to allow you to wrap your foot around the pedal nicely for some good pedal feel. I tested these shoes on Deity Compound and TMAC pedals with rides ranging from long gravel rides, dirt jumps, chunky technical DH trails and everything in-between.
The shoes are comfortable for long days on the bike. Even though they do not have a ton of venting they seemed to breath well even in temps up to the mid-80s. The siped rubber patch on the ball of the foot allows you to move and reposition your foot with ease and feels great on smoother trails or dirt jumps, but when you get into some real rough and chunky terrain I would prefer more of a pattern for the pedal pins to really dig into in order to feel fully confident that my feet weren’t going to blow off the pedals.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Flow is a basic and comfortable shoe. While I don’t prefer them on trails that are really rough or technical, I think they are a great shoe for all day excursions on the bike or for more casual riders who don’t need a bulky shoe. I will definitely be wearing them for some upcoming bike packing trips as well as long gravel grinder days. Odds are you will catch me casually wearing them out and about also. Props to Pearl Izumi for creating a nice blend between casual and lighter to mid duty riding.
Not Enough Pedal Grip for Gnar Lack of Paddin & Protection
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