Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gear Review: Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro II Shoe

I have a confession to make: I cheated in Kindergarten.

I had trouble tying my shoes so I begged my parents for sneakers with velcro closures.  The ploy worked and I passed without having to prove my knot tying abilities.  That was probably the last time I owned sneakers with velcro.  Until now.

At the beginning of this mountain biking season, I finally decided to invest in a new pair of biking shoes.  My last set, a pair of Shimmano shoes, lasted nearly five years and were starting to come apart at the seams.

Yes, the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro II has a long name, but don't hold the marketing arm's incompetence against the folks in their design department.

The Enduro combines a stiff platform in the toe with some flex in the mid sole for walking or hiking.  It is a compromise between a fully stiff race shoe and those that are essentially sneakers with a slot for pedal cleats.

While I could have gone full-velcro, I didn't.  I've found that you need at least one ratcheting latch to hold things together in those dark moments when you're 9/10 of the way up that steep rock face that you probably shouldn't have tried to climb, but did anyway.

After putting alot of miles on these shoes (more on that to come) I can say that they've held together beautifully.  I've had no seam blow-outs, no excessive wear on the treads, and most importantly: no blisters or discomfort.  They've given me traction on rock and mud when I've needed it, and my feet have been pain free all biking season.

So if you're looking for a new pair of biking shoes for this fall, I can highly recommend the Enduro.  There are still even some popular sizes available on my wife's favorite website, Zappos: where you can try shoes on and send them back for free if they don't fit.  Heck, with the deal on Zappos, I might just buy my wife a pair.

I just hope she doesn't expect me to tie a bow in the ribbon for her.

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