I have no idea why this product photo is coming across so huge. I’m just going to pretend I mean for it to be that way so that you can see this shoe in excruciating detail.
Full disclosure, I take my cycling shoe cues from Geargals sponsored athlete Rebecca Gross. What she wears, I wear. She was on these for a while, so I got them too, then she was on the X-Projects so I got on board with them and her taste in shoes has not let me down.
I use the same shoes for road, mountain, and tour cycling because…well, just because. I am pleased to report that the X-Project is a great shoe for that because…well, because it’s a great shoe.
This review is going nowhere if that’s the sum of my argument.
Let’s start over. This is a great shoe because it really does hit that sweet spot of ultimate versatility. Its carbon sole is nicely stiff for pedaling, but get this – when you are off your bike and walking, it flexes almost like a normal shoe. No clip clopping around like an overshod pony. I hear there are bike races that start out with a running sprint to the bikes (I hear about them, but I hope it’s not true because oh, my god what a horrible thing to do in a bike race) and I’d guess these shoes would be great for that, though I haven’t run in them and have no intention of doing so. For a normal person who just wants to occasionally get off her bike and walk around, I can confirm that these shoes are killer for that. They don’t feel like cycling shoes when you are walking in them, and the fact that “doesn’t feel like cycling shoes” is a plus for cycling shoes says a lot about cycling shoes.
While pedaling they feel great. No complaints at all. I love the fastener; no laces and minimal velcro. There’s one velcro strap, but it’s a set it and forget it style down by the toe, and I really feel these shoes really didn’t even need it. I don’t know why they have it at all. Probably a nod to some cycling sensibility or another that makes people get all cold-sweaty and twitchy if their shoes don’t have a velcro strap.
Fit is pretty narrow. I can ride these shoes completely unbuckled and not feel as if I’m missing anything. I’m in a pair that is sized up a full size and a half and I don’t feel they are too big. I would suggest sizing up in these, though what is really needed is a version with “wide” sizing.
What is SUPER cool about the fit is that the shoes come with customizable insoles. There are a series of invisible pockets in the insoles that take little wedges (that also come with the shoes) so you can dial in the arch support and camber that you want in the shoes. It’s really fun. I followed the instructions for using the wedges for my foot type, and it was fine, but I ultimately ended up going back to just a normal insole because I didn’t have any problems with those.
The only thing I actively dislike about these shoes is the venting system. They have HUGE vents right over the toes. The airflow is unreal. I’m a cold person and I live in a cold climate most of the time and even when I don’t, I never feel as if my feet are too hot. I don’t need vents of this substantial size (or any size. I don’t need vents. Don’t like ’em, don’t want ’em). However, most people will probably love these vents.
All in all, a great shoe with fancy looks, comfortable walking flex, and excellent on-bike performance. Can’t go wrong.
Pearl IzumiBorrowing from its top-tier mountain shoe, Pearl Izumi created the X-Project 2. 0 Women's Shoe to offer a slightly more wallet-friendly option for the self-sponsored rider, which features the same carbon sole as its pricier sibling and requiring few sacrifices for its more palatable price. Aimed at riders who need light, responsive shoes with a tread that won't leave them struggling through run-ups and barrier hopping, the X-Project 2. 0 makes a worthwhile 'cross or XC investment. Pearl Izumi starts with a synthetic upper that achieves its streamlined, contoured fit with the use of heat-bonded seaming rather than traditional stitched seams. This translates to a breathable and flexible upper that's far less likely to create hot spots or pressure points. The bi-directional closure system gathers equally from each side, further contributing to the shoes' tailored fit and allowing you to dial in the precise fit that will work for you without ending up with numb feet halfway through a race. Within the shoe, Pearl Izumi's 1:1 Insole System provides arch support specified to the left and right foot, while an EVA foam heel -- borrowed from softer, springier running shoe technology -- helps absorb impact when you're forced off the bike to run through a challenging, rock-laced section of trail. Underneath the shoe, the power transfer you count on in a race is delivered via a full-length tapered carbon fiber plate, which manages to dutifully deliver watts to the pedals while remaining forgiving enough for you to hike or run with. The rugged outsole, built with durable rubber tips on hollow TPU lugs, adds significant traction but very little weight to the shoe all-together.$239.95
Pearl IzumiMost high-end mountain bike shoes sacrifice traction and walk-ability in order to provide maximum power transfer to the pedals. Not content with making this sacrifice in walk and hike-ability, the Pearl Izumi X-Project 2. 0 Shoe delivers the powerful energy transfer of a fully rigid carbon-fiber soled shoe, without reducing its ability to grip over rough terrain and flex in the right places when you're walking over impassable trail obstacles. What's the X-Project 2. 0's secret to delivering powerful energy transfer without sacrificing traction or flex over hike-a-bike sections? Pearl outfitted this shoe with a full-length carbon fiber sole plate that's tapered to provide just enough flex when you're walking and hiking over trail obstacles and loose dirt surfaces. Run-shoe EVA foam placed under the heel dissipates impact and alleviates discomfort when you're hiking over craggy, rock-strewn trails. Co-molded rubber tips placed over hollow TPU lugs provide tenacious grip (for a cycling shoe, that is) without adding excess bulk or unnecessary weight. And since there's a full-length carbon plate, you'll still enjoy the excellent power transfer needed for rapid acceleration and quick uphill bursts. The shoe's upper consists of a fully bonded synthetic material that forgoes seams along the toe box to eliminate hotspots and nasty pressure points. Strategically placed mesh vents promote breathability during warmer weather for enhanced comfort. Additionally, you'll appreciate the bi-directional closure, with micro-adjustable Boa reel for a dialed fit that evenly distributes pressure to alleviate uncomfortable bunching and pressure points.$239.95
Pearl IzumiSitting proudly at the top of Pearl Izumi's X-Project line, the X-Project 1. 0 Men's Shoe features an efficient carbon sole and a streamlined fit, recommending it as a lightweight, responsive choice for 'cross or XC racers. If you're looking for a shoe that's tough enough for slick run-ups and rock-laced sections of trail but will still provide you with the power transfer you need when you're mashing in a final sprint, we'd recommend covering your feet with the X-Project 1. 0. One of the most notable features of the X-Project 1. 0 is its carbon-plate sole, which Pearl Izumi designed with a tapered shape and some flex to adapt it to hiking and running while still allowing you to benefit from the rigidity and lightness of carbon when you're pedaling. The sole is reinforced by an outsole featuring molded rubber tips on hollow TPU lugs to lend the shoe enough traction to dig through mud, rock, sand, and any other challenging conditions you end up running your bike through during a race. The EVA foam heel takes a cue from cushioned running industry technology, helping to lessen the impact on your joints if you end up having to hike or run repeatedly throughout a long ride or race. To set the 1. 0 apart from the rest of the X-Project line, Pearl Izumi shapes the upper from its . 9mm Second Skin synthetic. According to Pearl, is the thinnest upper available on the market. Its flexible fit conforms to a variety of foot shapes, making hot spots and pressure points unlikely with its use of heat-bonded, rather than stitched, seaming. Second Skin also allows for ample air transfer, helping to pull moisture from your feet and socks. The dual BOA dials give you extensive adjustability pre-ride or from the saddle, allowing you to achieve a secure fit that helps prevent numb feet in the middle of a trail.$319.95
Pearl IzumiYou never know exactly where you're heading when you start a ride, so if having a shoe you know can handle off-trail wanderings and new routes is important to you, we'd take a look at the Pearl Izumi Women's X-Alp Launch II Mountain Bike Shoe. Light and responsive on quick after-work rides with your girlfriends, but rugged enough to handle long, rambling weekend rides, the X-Alp Launch II makes an ideal companion as you improve. Pearl wisely starts with synthetic bonded uppers, which come devoid of any traditional seaming. This allows the shoe to adapt to a wide range of foot shapes, and cuts down on the likelihood of hot spots or pressure points interrupting your ride. We're fans of the BOA dial and hook-and-loop strap lacing system; the BOA dial gives you nearly unlimited control of fit around your instep, while the strap addresses fit around your toes. Underneath the shoe, you'll have a cushy EVA midsole providing all-day comfort, partnered with a carbon-reinforced composite shank that will ensure you get the power transfer you need on steep, unforgiving climbs. Grippy carbon rubber lugs along the outsole dig into the ground when you're inching your bike along gnarly cliff-side rock gardens and leaving your bike to go snap a picture of a sweeping view.$159.95