With forever mixed reviews about Pearl Izumi, the MultiSport brand are forever getting more and more recognition. Having been around since 1950, they’re often forgotten amongst the big bike maker names, but they really are apparel specialists. With top end shoes donned by athletes all over the Professional scene Pearl Izumi know their stuff. With 3 previous revisions to get this shoe nailed on, we were excited to try the new Pearl Izumi X-alp Drift IV.
Pearl Izumi claim the X-Alp Drift IV is ‘Designed for comfort with or without socks, this summer weight shoe has a fiberglass injected composite shank that delivers power to the pedals, and EVA run shoe foam at the midsole for all-day ride comfort on and off the bike. The quick lacing closure system keeps the shoe securely in place, while the mesh-synthetic upper maximizes breathability.’
The shoe retails for £89.99 and is currently on sale on CycleStore.co.uk for £80.99. This puts the shoe in the same price range as the entry level Specialized shoe, the Sport MTB.
The new quick lacing closure system gives security to the foot in all conditions. Very similar to the lace system used in many triathlon running shoes, it’s clear to see where Pearl Izumi have gained their inspiration here. The laces have a secondary elastic band to tuck the excess behind stopping it getting in the way of the drive chain.
Barefoot construction for a comfortable fit with or without socks. A lot of riders generally prefer to ride in socks, but this added feature is an interesting one. We did have our concerns in how well the shoe would wash if it’s more likely to need a wash both inside and out. The X-Alp Drift IV features an EVA foam run shoe midsole for off the bike cushioning and comfort. A breathable mesh/synthetic upper keeps the weight of the shoe down.
A fiberglass injected composite plate offers improved power transfer and the exterior of the sole is a carbon rubber lugged outsole for extra traction and durability. This should allow greater comfort when walking in the shoe. The X-Alp Drift weighs approximately 700g per pair.
Out of the Box:
It’s clear to see that the X-Alp Drift IV could be mistaken for just a normal pair of trainers. Before you flip them over and look at the sole to notice the cleat hole. The colour schemes of the trainers are limited unlike many of the Pearl Izumi ranges. Cyclestore only stock black/green and we think Pearl could have really worked some other colours in here. Despite the black being easier to clean as we know.
The fastening system felt very similar to lace with less adjustability. The elastic takes it’s natural form over the foot so was adjusting the tension was quite hard. That being said we preferred this system over the velcro straps found in a lot of shoes around the same price range.
On to the Bike:
The X-Alp Drift IV certainly felt very comfortable and we enjoyed the interior lining to help the shoes be used without socks. Predominantly mesh upper allowed plenty of ventilation into the foot. This would make the foot quite cold in the winter months, and this isn’t a shoe we’d recommend for that. With a bit of extra protection on the toe and heel to stop any knocks and bumps, we felt that this shoe was more likely to take you out for a hike than a ride.
The sole of the shoe left a lot to be desired on the bike. The flexibility through the sole made these shoes very comfortable to walk in, although the power transfer through the pedals was compromized. And in terms of traction the rubber grips worked very well to hold the base of the foot. For any hike a bike sections this shoe would be great.
Durability throughout the shoe was good, easy to clean the majority. But it has to be said the mesh parts of the shoe got very dirty & allowed grit to penetrate the shoe. The inside of the shoe was tough to clean so we wouldn’t recommend wearing them without socks or in deep mud.
Pearl Izumi have created an affordable shoe with an almost trainer like Aesthetic. The X-Alp Drift IV is the latest in a long line of predecessors and this has really allowed pearl to get into the performance of the shoe. But we feel like they might need another couple of revisions before they get it right. The ventilation and aesthetic of the shoe are fantastic, mixed with the closure system these really work for the shoe. But in terms of durability, power transfer and ease of use, there’s work to be done.