Stiff enough for decent pedal power, flexy enough for comfortable walking, the Pearl Izumi X-Project hopes to cover ground as both a trail and XC shoe
Pearl Izumi’s newest SPD shoe has been designed for running as well as riding, as it’s intended for cyclocross riders as well as mountain bikers. That makes it ideal for hike-a-biking on those often daft, but always fun, adventures that wander a little off-piste.
As you’d expect from an XC/CX-style shoe, the pedalling part of the sole is very stiff — Pearl Izumi’s patented full-length tapered carbon-composite plate sees to that. Obviously flexibility is needed for walking, and a thoughtful blend of running shoe EPA in the heel together with moulded rubber traction lugs on the sole means there’s enough cushioning, flexibility and grip, even in muddy conditions.
Ventilation is pretty good too, with large meshed areas throughout the upper. Adjustment via the broad straps and ratchet is spot-on, with the pressure spread evenly and comfortably across the top of the foot with no slippage from the heel cup, despite me having to go up a size (44 from 43) to achieve a good fit.
If you’re after a stiff and lightweight clipless shoe that still has a little bit of trail style and is as good off the bike as on, then these come highly recommended.