I must say, the latest footwear drop from PEARL iZUMi really grabbed my attention. Over the years, the brand has made a big push to constantly update and redesign their classic silhouettes and one shoe that recently got a facelift is their X-Alp Launch SPD shoes. Now with a BOA closure system and this beautiful kiyote tan color, I had to try a pair out. After a few rides on our local MTB trails, I think I got the gist and can talk a bit about them, so read on below for a quick and succinct “This Just In” review…
The X-Alp Launch SPD is a $160 MTB shoe designed for SPD clipless riding, yet there are cleat covers that allow you to ride them on flats as well. The Vibram ECOSTEP outsole has been quite grippy so far, especially on photoshoots where getting the shot includes scrambling on escarpments or across slippery river rock.
With the upper made from recycled content Cordura fabric, a 3/4 length nylon shank, and a wide footbed, the X-Alp Launch isn’t a full-on hiking boot but offers plenty of stiffness in the sole for riding, while still being flexible enough to manage hike-a-bikes with ease. Overly stiff shoes tend to want to slide off my heal while scrambling up steel trails, yet these feel very secure. At 980g (with cleats) for my size 12, they are by no means heavy either!
These shoes fit a bit wider than I’m used to but not so big that they feel bulky like a skate shoe. Rather, they feel great with thick or thin socks, perfect for shoulder season riding. I’d say they’re suited for MTB trail riding, bicycle touring, but they might be too big for some people for their gravel bike. PEARL iZUMi makes gravel-specific shoes as well…
The BOA closure allows you to adjust the fit and feel of the shoes on the fly, something I personally struggle with a lot. In fact, I have found the BOA closure to be my new go-to for riding shoes. One thing about the fit on these shoes, due to the wide toe box and BOA closure, you can’t really cinch down the toe box area since there isn’t a velcro strap. For MTB riding this isn’t an issue for me but it is something to note.
The details of the X-Alp Launch really elevate these shoes and show that PEARL iZUMi is constantly pursuing making durable, good-lookin’, and comfortable footwear. This quick riding experience with the new X-Alp has me wondering what other models in PEARL iZUMi’s catalog would fit in with my riding style.
In short, the X-Alp Launch is a great all-rounder MTB shoe that is light, seemingly durable, and at $160 isn’t the cheapest but with BOA and Vibram, it’s hard to argue with that pricepoint.
-BOA® Fit System with L6 dial lets riders fine-tune fit while they ride
-Vibram ECOSTEP® outsole delivers the perfect blend of grip, traction, and durability
-Seamless, perforated upper is breathable and quick-drying
-Recycled Cordura® fabric is durable and eco-friendly
-Reinforced toe box for added protection
-EVA foam midsole cushions impacts
-2-bolt SPD cleat compatible
-980g size 12 with cleats
-$160 retail at your local PEARL iZUMi dealer