For 2018, Pearl Izumi is kicking their full cycling lineup to another level. There are tons of new items to consider and one of them is the X-Alp Elevate MTB shoe. These trail-inspired SPD-compatible shoes offer serious versatility with an updated fit and look.

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elevate Features:

  • 3-Layer seamless upper adds comfort and durability
  • Semi-custom fit with zonal, bi-directional closure
  • Boa® IP1 dials feature 1 mm micro-adjustability with pop-up for release
  • Nylon/carbon composite ¾ shank
  • Lightweight EVA midsole for added cushion on/off the bike
  • Vibram® Megagrip outsole for industry-leading grip
  • SPD Compatible
  • MSRP: $180
Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elevate Review

The X-Alp Elevate offers comfort and killer walkability.

Comfortable fit with a versatile, walkable design

Two years ago, I tested the X-Alp Launch II’s and liked them overall, but found them a little flexy and the fit was snug. With the new X-Alp Elevate shoes, Pearl Izumi has revised the fit to make it more in line with industry sizing and they have improved many other areas of the shoe.

With the X-Alp Elevate’s, you get one of the most supremely-walkable shoes you’ll find. Walking around before or after a ride feels as close to natural as any clipless shoes I’ve ever tried. I’ve particularly enjoyed these for family bike rides where frequent stops to parks or stores would be awkward with other shoes, but not with the X-Alp Elevate. I can walk around or play on playground equipment to my heart’s content.

On the trails, this walkability does come into play during hike-a-bike sections as well. The Vibram outsoles provide great traction during these sections and you could even do a little jog down the trail as well.

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elevate Review

Rolling some early-season singletrack.

The fit is more generous this year with me going for the 44 instead of a 44.5 (my typical road/mtb shoe size).  Regarding the fit, it’s always great slipping into these as I feel like I’m wearing a pair of trail runners. I don’t have to cram my toes and can easily wiggle them for a more natural feel. Still, I do wish Pearl Izumi utilized a metatarsal button to further improve forefoot fit by splaying the toes a tad more — maybe something they will consider.

Utilizing the venerable Boa IP1 dials is a winning choice in my book. All my shoes of choice feature these dials and I have a hard time imagining riding anything different. On-th-fly adjustments are incremental and easy. Both dials work with inward rotation to tighten and outward to loosen. That’s the hallmark of the IP1 design and makes complete sense on the bike. I could easily make adjustments as my feet swelled during a ride or for different sock thicknesses.

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elevate Review

Breathability hasn’t been an issue on cold-weather rides.

Another notable thing here is the wide range of cleat placement. As is typical, there are two cleat positions with a sliding track. I prefer my cleats rearward quite a bit and with these there still remained plenty of space for those that like their cleats even further rearward.

Construction quality is solid here with good materials for abrasion-resistance. Comfort is superb as well, but breathability could be better. I’ve loved them during the fall, winter and spring for that very reason, but mid-July and these will be toasty.

I’ve also used these with both Crank Brothers Eggbeater and Time ATAC pedals and didn’t experience any tread interference with the cleats or the platform on either pedal design.

The Good

  • Walkability of a hiking shoe with SPD-compatibility
  • Really like the blue color
  • Boa IP1 lacing system is the industry standard
  • Vibram outsoles offer killer grip
  • Wiggle room in the toebox

The Bad

  • Will be hot in the summer
  • Wish they had carbon soles for better power transfer (but you’d sacrifice walkability)

The Bottom Line: Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elevate

Unless you’re racing, these shoes will do the trick — from backyard singletrack to rides with the family or gravel adventures. The Boa lacing system is as good as it gets and the walkability here is tops. Walking around town or hike-a-bike sections are perfectly-matched for the X-Alp Elevates.

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About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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