Mountain bike shoes can be found to fit nearly every riding style from XC to DH, but is there one shoe that can comfortably do it all? The PEARL iZUMi X-ALP Launch SPD doesn’t really look like it could be that shoe. The shoe fits nicely into the wolf in sheep’s clothing category. At first glance, they look like flat pedal shoes that are heavy, flexy and absorb water like Terry cloth short shorts (sorry if you’re too young to know about those).
PEARL iZUMi X-ALP Launch SPD | $160 | Composite Shank | Vibram Sole |834 grams – Size 42.5
Initially I thought that I might just be using the Pearl iZUMi X-Alp Launches for very casual mountain biking. Then I discovered their comfort, reasonable stiffness, lightweight and unassuming appearance fit right in with my daily ride needs.
Fit: The shoes are super comfortable. Toe-box is spacious enough for my fairly average foot width and the heel cup is comfortably padded. I’ve had no issues with any kind of hot spots or blisters even with some light hiking. Walking around in these is fairly comfy for a cycling shoe. I’ve spent 10+ hours in the shoes several times while guiding. They are about as comfy as it gets for a reasonably high-performance SPD cycling shoe.
- I can be lazy and not untie shoes and wiggle my foot in with reasonably good results. yea, they might not be as tight as a cinched down BOA, but do I really need my shoe to be that tight?
- Traction on the rocks is great – the Vibram soles are just soft enough to give great traction on the rocks.
- Great shoe for places like Moab, Sedona and Grand Junction where there are lots of rock where traction is needed
- Don’t seem to be quite the sponges as other shoes in this category of casual performance shoes.
- Available in half sizes!
- Wearing really well – after close to 1,000 miles there are very little signs of wear.
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- Traction off the bike isn’t great unless you’re on rocks. The lugs on the front of the shoe aren’t quite substantial enough to dig in on the steep hike a bikes.
- They don’t work with Siri. wouldn’t be great to have shoes that tie themselves….Hey Siri, can you tie my shoes? :)
The PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch shoes surpassed my expectations. Previously my go-to shoes lean more to the XC side, but these shoes are making me almost forget about that. Funny thing is that these shoes are actually a few grams lighter than the top end more XC oriented PEARL iZUMi X-Project Pros. They aren’t as stiff, but they aren’t really that far off. I honestly can’t detect a difference in efficiency.
Who are they for?
I think these shoes are perfect for anyone from casual trail rider to DH sender. If you ride flat pedals, there is a flat pedal version available also. They may look slightly out-of-place on the spandex xc race course, but their performance really wouldn’t be that out-of-place. Those who don’t demand the absolute stiffest shoes and don’t mind one extra step of tying their shoes every once in a while should be a perfect match for these. With that in mind, riders who want a comfortable, high-performance shoe without the sometimes fussy BOA and ratchet closers should check out the X-Alp Launches.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]