Pearl Izumi‘s been a sending us some sweet gear for a while, like the Pro Leader Kit and Softshell 180 jacket. So, it was a pleasant surprise when we found out they were set to unveil the X Project 1.0 shoe at Interbike. It’s a high end XC mountain/ ‘cross shoe with a translucent green sole. With this design, they were shooting for a lightweight shoe comfy both on and off the bike. To accomplish this, significant flex was added throughout while keeping it as stiff as possible at the pedal. For off-the-bike appeal, there’s rubber bonded to the sole for grip, a feature that makes this shoe grippy and viable for travel in many terrains. During my time testing, I walked, biked, and sprinted around in the outskirts of Vegas, on a surface made up of dirt, dust, and a hefty portion of jagged rocks, both small and large and had to walk more often than I’d like.
As for weights, a size 44 weight is claimed just short of 300g per shoe. They sized me in a 46, which hit the scales at about 320g. That makes the X Project 1.0 even lighter than my LG Carbon Pro Team road shoes. Pretty impressive for a mountain shoe.
Click ‘more’ for the review, and some other translucent-soled shoes from Pearl Izumi…
A carbon shank runs down the center of the sole, making it stiff in the pedal area yet flexible in the toe and heels. The stiffness was apparent while riding and the flex showed itself immensely at a fast paced walk or light jog. It felt like a tennis shoe while walking, and I hardly noticed I was wearing cycling specific shoes.
The see-thru green sole is crafted from TPU, thermoplastic polyurethane. You can see the placement of the carbon plate when eyeing the bottom. One of the big highlights of the X Project 1.0 is the rubber bonded to lugs in the TPU sole. Pearl Izumi claims they’re the first to do this. A rubber bottom helps to soften impact from the ground while also providing a good bit of extra traction. (Also, it looks gnarly in combination with the see-through green.) I was skeptical of the durability of the rubber at first, but Pearl Izumi promised that the rubber was secured in a way that it wouldn’t fall out from the TPU or peel away, ever.
Another way that the X Project 1.0 makes for a comfortable shoe is the addition of EVA foam under the heel. This is the same stuff they use in running shoes. A bouncy foam soft to the touch adds even more squish to the flexy shoe. To keep the center stiff, they limit the foam section to just the heel.
The retention system is the same as what’s used on a couple road shoes they make. It’s called the P.R.O. Buckle system: two straps and a snap. The snap allows for a couple options. It lets the rider either completely loosen the shoe to remove it, or the rider can press a button to loosen the strip just one notch for minor adjustments. The strip was constructed to a length so I didn’t come close to running out of notches. That’s good, because I find myself craving notches a lot.
Mesh on the outside gets air to a large portion of the foot, so the sweat evaporates. The insole is Pearl Izumi’s 1:1 insole system, designed for arch support and comfort. I didn’t notice the insoles, and I have no complaints because they did their job.
Overall the X Project 1.0 shoes were a blast, great for mixed activities, and fresh too. (I mean, it’s hard to get fresher than green). Sizing is 37-47 (with half sizes too), 48, and 49. MSRP is $280.
Also released are the X Project 2.0 (left) and 3.0 (right), though I didn’t get to try them on. Pricing drops on the 2.0 to $210 and $160 for 3.0. Availability will be in different colors, with orange and red dudes versions shown above, and purple and blue ladies versions below.
As the X Project line trickles down in price, certain features are removed while the translucent TPU and rubber sole remain. The P.R.O. retention system gets dropped on the 2.0, and the Pearl Izumi 1:1 insole system gets dropped, additionally, on the 3.0. Those changes contribute to a few grams of added weight.