Pearl Izumi X Project Preview

Pearl Izumi X Project Preview


Pearl Izumi Project X preview


By Rob Allen


The long anticipated Pearl Izumi X Project Preview


As regular readers will know, there are a few cyclocross fanatics on the team here at and we do tend to get excited about new gear for one of our favourite disciplines. We’ve already had a look at the Pearl Izumi X Project shoes here, which have been long anticipated – the radical design caused some major headaches, and delays, in getting these shoes from concept to production – given that they promise a totally new design approach to tackling the age old compromise of stiffness for pedalling and flex for running which is endemic for cyclocross shoes.


Pearl Izumi X Project
Pearl Izumi X Project


Super stiff soles, such as those on the Lake cyclocross shoes we reviewed recently, may be great for pedaling but they are less effective for running, particularly on loose or greasy surfaces, which of course are exactly the kind of surfaces that a cross racer is likely to be running on.

Pearl Izumi X Project Size up to normal recommended to our reviewer
Size up to normal recommended to our reviewer

Conversely, flexible soles are great for running in but dreadful to pedal in. If Pearl Izumi have cracked the code on this point then these shoes have the potential to be a game changer, not only for cross, but also for XC racers, trail riders and others too. The shoes were developed with input from sponsored XC rider Brian Lopes who won a UCI World Cup XC Eliminator in a pair of the prototypes, which can’t be a bad thing.
Out of the box they are reasonably light; Pearl claim 365g per shoe in a size 43, ours weigh 390g in a size 47. Call us vain but we love the black/flouro green colour scheme.
Pearl Izumi X Project Colour is a matter of taste, though there are plenty of options
Colour is a matter of taste, though there are plenty of options

We were advised to take a size up from normal so we went for a 47 versus our normal 46 and the relatively wide fit was perfect. The thermally bonded mesh uppers have plenty of ventilation and we have been sure to wear overshoes on some of the chillier mornings in the early days of our test. Initial impressions are also that the fit is quite deep which, combined with a relatively pliable upper means that it is quite tuneable via the two Velcro and one buckle straps. The strap and the buckle mounting plate are both adjustable too, as are the insoles which come with a variety of instep and forefoot wedges.
The patent pending innovation at the heart of the X Project is a multilayer carbon and thermoplastic, sandwich construction sole which is what should give the shoe the balance between stiffness and flex that will help deliver Pearl Izumi’s goal of creating a shoe that “does everything well”.
Pearl Izumi X Project
Standard ratchet bucket and velcro straps set-up

The sole also features two screw threads under each toe box to attach rugby studs when the going gets sloppy, something hardcore cross racers will appreciate. These aim to work in concert with cold moulded, rubber grip sections to deliver great grip in a variety of loose and greasy conditions. The heel has EVA foam padding sourced from Pearl Izumi’s range of running shoes to give additional comfort when running or walking. Cleat attachment is via a standard 2 bolt fitment which is compatible with SPD and similar off road pedal systems.
Pearl Izumi X Project The magic flexible mid sole that allows a proper foot position during running
The magic flexible X of the mid sole that allows a proper foot position during running and gives the shoe its name

The X shaped braces on the sole certainly give a different feel and overall the shoe is stiffer than we imagined it might be. We look forward to getting some more time running with the bike and with the 3 peaks cyclocross race on the horizon in September there will be plenty of that, so we can make a fuller assessment of the main claim Pearl Izumi is making but so far the signs are promising.
Pearl Izumi X Project
Stiff carbon fore-sole and flexible mid and rear sole.

Look out for a full review soon on

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Pearl Izumi
Pearl Izumi UK

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