Pearl’s distinctive Izumi X-Alp Enduro III shoes are hybrid race/trail shoes that walk and pedal well – but the looks aren’t for all.
The chunky hiking treads and deep EVA cushioning soles are deﬁnitely more trail shoe in style. They’re comfy and impressively surefooted for clambering or standing about in, while the hard ‘Ride & Run’ shank underneath actually pedals as well as most race-stye shoes, with no hint of a cleat hotspot even on extended rides.
The rounded toes with broad, deep toe bumpers and plenty of toe-wriggling room are also more hike than bike in style. The two short Velcro straps are backed up with a slightly incongruous ratchet for closure.
The combination does a good job, with the padded tongue protecting against pressure points as long as you can tame its tendency to loll off to one side as you put them on.
The plastic buckles tighten well enough, and they’re particularly easy to undo, but there’s a lot of play in them even from new. While we haven’t broken one yet, they’re deﬁnitely more vulnerable to trailside rock damage than a metal buckle.
On the bright side, both buckle and strap are removable and replaceable if our pessimism proves well-founded.
Those tall heel counters don’t get an extra plastic cup, but they’re still secure without being over-attentive of your Achilles’ tendon. Big mesh toe panels make the Pearl Izumis breezy – or more likely damp – but they’re quick-drying and the taller than average sole is a bonus if you’re paddling through the deep, deep summer puddles.