If you’re one of the riders that loves to get after it and push the limits on and off your bike, the Pearl Izumi X Project MTB shoes are worth taking for a spin. These mtb shoes provide the perfect balance between giving you a stiff carbon platform to power up the hills while allowing for some flexibility when you’re hiking a bike.
Testing out the Pearl Izumi X Project Elite MTB Shoes
I’ve had the pleasure of testing out the PI Project Elite’s over the past few months on chunky technical trails, fast and flowy trails, and slick rock. Living in Steamboat Springs, I am able to get a fair amount of climbing in on my rides because no matter which direction I start, I have to start going up with a minimum of 1k of vertical to get a decent ride in. Through my rides on the uphill, the X Project Elite shoes remained stiff, helping keep my from flexing too much and getting fatigued. This has also been the case throughout all my rides, but I noticed it most on the uphills and I find my feet wanting to flex the most going uphill.
To keep your foot secure in the shoe, the designers of the Pearl Izumi X Project Elites used a bi-directional BOA closure system instead of traditional laces or only Hook and Loop closures. There is one hook and loop closure just above the toes on the foot to adjust for different widths in the toebox. The dial is precise down to 1mm, so you can get the exact fit you’re looking for. The dial on the BOA closure system is large enough and easy to turn for those with gloves on or have fat fingers after a long ride.
To keep your foot comfortable when you’re locked in, the X Project Elite MTB shoes have plenty of padding on the inside of the shoe, giving you that feeling of a baby kangaroo in its mom’s pouch. I feel there could be a tad less padding in the upper which could reduce a small amount of weight and bulk, but this is not a deal breaker to me.
When out testing the X Project Elites in Moab on steep slick rock, I found the shoes to flex just enough when having to hike up. The rubber on the sole of these shoes is extremely sticky and clings great to the rock, which is nice to have the confidence when hiking up and knowing that I won’t slip down the face of the rock. There is a small amount of EVA foam in the midsole of these shoes which makes hiking through more technical and impassable rocky fields a breeze, assuming your legs get push you through.
Pearl Izumi X Project Technology
The Pearl Izumi X Project Elite MTB shoes are compatible with Shimano SPD pedal cleats, but not SPD-SL cleats. Given that Shimano owns Pearl Izumi and SPD pedals are most common on mountain bikes, it only makes sense that these shoes are SPD compatible. Through my testing, I lost one screw while riding which makes getting your shoe off your pedal a hassle, but this was a good reminder to me to check the screws in my cleats from time to time.
To project your toes from sharp rocks and other sticks from jabbing into the front of the shoe, the toebox is reinforced with an extra layer of rubber. This layer also helps keep the shoes from getting saturated with water from early morning dew or shallow creek crossings.
The Pearl Izumi collection of mountain bike gear is solid this year and the X Project Elite MTB shoes help take the lineup to even greater heights. These shoes have been an absolute pleasure to test and they will definately stay on my shortlist of shoes to wear on my rides. The price tag is a little high on these shoes at $275, but having no complaints through my months of testing, I can say that you if you’re willing to shell out the dough, you won’t be disappointed. For more information, visit PearlIzumi.com.