Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, good power transfer
Cons: Boa does not tighten well at the ankle, Boa was difficult to open once tensioned
Manufacturer: Pearl Izumi
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Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit Women's
|Price||$89.99 at REI|
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$164.95 at Amazon
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|$149.95 at Backcountry|
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|$54.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, good power transfer||Comfortable fit, large cleat opening, good power transfer, excellent trail absorption||Lightweight, good power transfer, easy to walk in||Protective, comfortable, supportive, well-constructed||Comfortable, excellent protection, excellent power transfer, easy to clip in and out of, great for hike-a-bike|
|Cons||Boa does not tighten well at the ankle, Boa was difficult to open once tensioned||Lacks breathability, expensive||Not the best lateral stability||Not very breathable, moderately heavy||Heavy, not waterproof|
|Bottom Line||Best for light-duty trail riding, this shoe has good support, stiffness and walkability||This comfortable shoe impressed our testers with its fit, trail absorption, and power transfer and is a great match for short trail rides and all-day epics alike||This unassuming shoe combines on and off the bike performance with good power transfer and walking comfort at a relatively reasonable price tag||A supportive and durable shoe made to withstand the rigors of technical trail, all-mountain, and bike park riding||A high-performing shoe that offers comfort paired with excellent stability, protection, and walkability|
|Rating Categories||Pearl Izumi X-Alp S...||Crankbrothers Malle...||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Ride Concepts Helli...||Ride Concepts Traverse|
|Stability and Control (20%)|
|Specs||Pearl Izumi X-Alp S...||Crankbrothers Malle...||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Ride Concepts Helli...||Ride Concepts Traverse|
|Measured Weight (g)||337g||379g||322g||413g||450g|
|Outsole||Vibram Ecostep||Match MC1||SlipNot FG||Clip Grip||DST 8.0 MID GRIP Rubber|
|Closure||Boa L6 dial, Velcro strap||Boa, Velcro strap||Laces||Laces, Velcro strap||Laces/Velcro|
|Upper Material||Seamless perforated synthetic||Synthetic||synthetic leather||Microfiber synthetic with TPU toe and heel protection||Synthetic & D30|
|Footbed||EVA Foam||not specified||Body Geometry||Dual-density EVA||EVA Foam|
|Sole||Nylon composite||EVA midsole||Soft Lollipop Nylon Composite Plate||RC PowerDrive nylon shank||D30 High Impact Insole|
|Size Tested||EU 40||US 7||EU 39.5 / US 8.5||US 8.5||EU 39.5 / US 8.5|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit is redesigned as an all-day clip-in mountain bike shoe. The comfortable synthetic leather upper has a true-to-size fit with medium volume, and an L6 Boa lacing system makes lacing easy, although we had a hard time getting a tight enough fit at the ankle to prevent heel lift. The Vibram Ecostep lugged sole flexes comfortably for hiking on packed trails but does slip some on loose inclines.
The Nylon midsole is stiff enough for good power transfer and does not flex on the pedals, but is not as stiff as other shoes in our review. EVA foam helps to dampen trail vibrations and the X-Alp Summit provides adequate impact protection for cross country and trail riding but lacks added impact zones for technical trail, park, and enduro riding. Overall, the X-Alp Summit is comfortable and performs well, but comes in at a slighter higher price point than models with similar performance.
Stability and Control
The X-Alp Summit uses technologies found in Pearl Izumi’s X-Elevate shoe line, including a nylon composite sole. On the bike, the midsole provides a reasonably stiff pedaling platform with minimal flex, although it’s not as stiff as other shoes in our review. The shoe’s uppers support the foot very well, especially through the midfoot, and help to create lateral stability. In combination with the nylon midsole, the pedaling platform is stable and efficient.
On outsole of the X-Alp Summit is made of Vibram rubber and the recessed cleat box measures 76mm x 39mm and has 35mm of fore-aft cleat adjustment. We tend to ride with our cleats back and were able to find a comfortable position, but some may find 35mm of adjustment a bit limiting.
Pearl Izumi places EVA foam in the heel of the X-Alp Summit to help dampen trail impacts. On technical climbs we did experience heel lift, this was due to our inability to tighten the Boa system enough at the medial collar. On descents, the shoe does a good job of dissipating trail forces and feels supportive and stable.
The X-Alp Summit fits very true to size, our testers wear a US 8.5 women’s which equates to a EU40 in Pearl Izumi (half sizes are not available). The overall length and width of the shoe fit well and it has more volume at the forefoot than other shoes, making it a good choice for those with higher volume feet.
There is a velcro strap at the front of the shoe that allows some adjustability of the fit at the toebox. Pearl Izumi uses an L6 Boa lacing system on the X-Alp Summit which only extends from the top of the tongue to the midfoot, and not to the toebox. We found that we were not able to tighten the Boa enough to lock in our ankle securely and had to tighten the system considerably to get a tight enough fit through the midfoot and still had heel lift and slop at the ankle collar.
During our testing, we encountered an issue with the Boa dial that we have not experienced before. The dial on our test shoes is very hard to pull open once the laces are tightened and the shoe is on our foot. We tried with and without gloves and struggled every time to open the Boa, but when the shoe was not on our foot the Boa dial freely opens and closes.
On the trail, the uppers wrap the foot providing good lateral stability, and EVA cushioning at the heel and midsole soaks up trail vibrations alleviating foot fatigue earning it above average marks for this metric.
The X-Alp Summit features a Vibram Ecostep rubber outsole with a lugged pattern similar to that found on a hiking shoe. Our SPD cleats fit inside the opening with a few millimeters to spare on the side and we had no issues with clipping in or out.
While hiking the nylon composite sole flexes comfortably allowing for a natural gait. The cleat is recessed below the lugs and does not interfere with walking. We enjoyed good hiking traction on smoother trails and firm surfaces but the lugs did not hold well while hiking on loose trails and our feet would slide backward with each step.
The X-Alp Summit is designed for all-day adventures with hiking and offers more protection through the outsole and midsole than on the upper. Pearl Izumi uses synthetic leather on the uppers that have a coating on the toe box for impact protection. This layer protects the front of the toes but does not extend over the toebox.
The synthetic leather is highly perforated which Pearl Izumi says allows your feet to dry after creek crossings. We did not cross any creeks during our testing, but we did have to cross some very sandy stretches of trail that were too deep and soft to ride. During these hikes, the toebox literally became packed with sand and we had to stop and empty our shoes.
There is EVA foam at the heels and the medial collar is fairly well padded. Overall, the shoe provides moderate protection for trail riding.
We tested the X-Alp Summit in a women’s EU 40 which weighs 337-grams per shoe on our scale, making it one of the lighter shoes in our review and earning higher marks for this metric. It has more padding and protection at the ankle and more midsole support and protection than some shoes at a similar weight.
The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit Women’s is on par in terms of value with many similar shoes in our review. One feature that sets it apart is the Boa lacing. While it’s not the highest performing shoe in our metric, it does blend weight, comfort, and performance and is worth consideration for those looking for a Boa-equipped shoe.
The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit did not earn exceptionally high or low marks in any of our metrics, but that is not to say that it performs poorly. It is comfortable on the pedals and transfers power fairly well. EVA foam helps to dampen trail vibrations and it has good lateral support and the Vibram sole is comfortable for hiking in. We did experience some issues with the Boa lacing and found it difficult to release under tension and could not quite tighten it up enough at the ankle to prevent heel lift while climbing. It is a lightweight shoe and falls within the pricing of many shoes in our review and is worth considering if you’re looking for a trail shoe with Boa lacing.
— Tara Reddinger-Adams
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