Let’s face it: for most MTB riders, that bike-to-hike stuff can be a drag. However, it’s the technical trails that are often the most alluring. If you anticipate getting on and off the bike frequently, your best option is a shoe that’s built for both a good ride and a good hike.
Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elite MTB Shoe Features:
- Compatible with SPD and all Look pedal systems
- P.R.O. 1:1 Anatomic Buckle Closure
- Dual density EVA X-Alp outsole/midsole
- Carbon rubber lugged outsole
- Breathable mesh/synthetic upper
- Low cut construction
- Energy Cell heel crash pad
- Weight: 360g (size 43)
- MSRP $150
Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elite MTB Shoe Review
Hike-to-bike shoes are the MTB equivalent of shampoo and conditioner: when you combine them, they don’t perform nearly as well as each element could do separately. Combining the stiffness and structure of a bike shoe with comfort and flexibility of a hiker may be an impossible dream, but Pearl Izumi makes a respectable effort with its X-Alp Elite.
Overall fit of the shoe is extremely comfortable, thanks in part to a soft sockliner, but primarily to the outstanding anatomic buckle closure that helps customize a precise amount of tension across the instep, and virtually eliminates any hotspots or pressure points. In fact, the shoes feel so comfortable that I typically wear them sockless unless I know I’ll be going through a ton of scree. The cut of the collar is low enough to allow full range of motion and avoid any irritation around the ankle.
Off the bike, the Elite borrows technology from PI’s rapidly progressing line of running shoes, such as quick-drying breatheable mesh uppers, energy cell cushioning in the heel and a dual-density EVA midsole. Outsole lugs are super knobby and deep, providing great traction in slick mud or loose gravel. Protection around the foot is solid as well, with synthetic leather overlays in key abrasion areas, and a durable rubberized toe cover up front.
When clipped in, that same outsole uses a nylon plate for added stiffness, and a firmer density EVA in the forefoot midsole is also designed for transferring power from foot to pedal. However, this is where the shampoo/conditioner analogy comes into play. Stiffness of the X-Alp Elite is fairly solid, and perfectly suitable for recreational use or long casual rides, but it’s not nearly comparable to dedicated riding shoes. If you’re part of the hardcore crowd, it’s probably worth shelling out the extra bucks for PI’s X-Alp PRO, which has a carbon fiber footplate.
Good X-Alp Elite
- Customized fit from anatomic buckle closure
- Extremely comfortable upper
- Good protective features
- Great traction for hiking in tricky conditions
Bad X-Alp Elite
- A little on the heavy side for hybrid shoes
- Less stiffness than dedicated MTB shoes
Bottom Line: Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elite
For unpredictable terrain or long days on the trail, the X-Alp Elite is a very comfortable bike-to-hike shoe that doesn’t compromise too much pedal performance for walking convenience.