Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV Clipless Trail Shoe
- P.R.O. 1:1 Anatomic Buckle Closure
- Quick drying, highly breathable mesh/synthetic upper
- Low cut construction
- Dual density EVA X-Alp outsole/midsole
- Carbon rubber lugged outsole.
- SPD Compatible
Blister’s Measured Weights:
- Left shoe: 454 grams
- Right shoe: 461 grams
- Total weight per pair (with cleats): 915 grams
Size Tested: 44 (US 10)
- 9.75” long
- 11” instep / mid-foot arch circumference
- No notable abnormalities (sixth toes, heel spurs, etc.)
- Street shoe size: Either 9 or 9.5 (I’m often in between sizes)
Test Duration: 7 rides
Test Location: The wilds of Vermont; Colorado Front Range
Here’s what Pearl Izumi has to say about the X-Alp Enduro IV:
“The X-Alp Enduro IV offers award-winning X-Alp performance and comfort and with the security of a ratchet buckle system and the versatility of our ground-breaking X-Alp sole [sic].”
I wanted to test the latest version of the X-Alp Enduro IV because of the claim that Pearl Izumi makes about its versatile, “ground-breaking” sole. If you read my review of the Mavic Alpine XL you’ll understand why, but in a nutshell:
Mountain biking happens in the mountains where there are rocks, roots, mud pits, and Sasquatch. So why would you wear a modified road bike shoe with “lugs” made of hard-as-metal rubber that do an excellent job of sliding off every natural surface while walking? Sure, they pedal fine, but do you really want to take a digger when you dismount? I don’t.
And apparently, I’m not alone. A number of shoes have come out over the past few years that cater to those who want a shoe with a more practical, walkable tread pattern. Pearl Izumi was actually one of the first brands to offer such a shoe with the original X-Alp.
However, even with what looked like a tread pattern better suited for scrambling around in the mountains, those X-Alps were heavy, were slow to dry, and lacked a sophisticated closure system. None of those things are true of the new X-Alp Enduro IV.
So in this review, I’m going to report on how the new Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV pedals, and begin to evaluate its walkability compared to several other similar shoes I’ve used. I haven’t been able to hike and walk around in the shoe in every condition I want to yet, but so far, the X-Alp Enduro IV seems like a very solid contender in this class of walkable trail shoes.
Features and Construction
The X-Alp Enduro IV features a tri-strap closure system. The lower two straps are hook and loop, while the upper one uses a ratcheting buckle. All three have a tiny amount of stretch in them, which is nice as it allows your foot to flex the material a bit while walking and riding.
The tongue underneath the straps is well-padded and simple, made of a light foam/mesh combination that provides adequate comfort while remaining lightweight.
There’s not a lot of mesh on the X-Alp Enduro IV, as you see with some lighter, racier shoes, or even on older versions of the X-Alp Enduro like the Enduro III. They are mostly constructed of synthetic fabric with a relatively small patch of ventilating mesh on top of the toe box, and a couple small patches on the sides of the forefoot.
The X-Alp Enduro IV’s full EVA mid-sole and carbon rubber outsole is bonded to a fiber-reinforced shank in the middle of the shoe. This shank is roughly half of the overall length of the shoe and is centered at the middle of the sole, leaving the toe and heel without a reinforced shank, which allows for some flexibility while walking.
I’m often in between a US size 9 and a size 9.5 in street shoes. My size 44 (EU sizing) Enduro IVs are a little roomy in the toe-box, both laterally and longitudinally, in front of my big toe. This shouldn’t come as a real surprise, as a size EU 44 typically equates to a US size 10 or a 10.5. Pearl Izumi’s own sizing chart equates a EU size 44 to a US 10.
This leads me to think that the shoe in a size 43 (US 9.5) would have offered a better fit in terms of length and volume, however the shoe in a size 44 still performed well. All in all I would strongly recommend trying this shoe on for size before you buy, especially if you’re often in between sizes.
The 44’s fit is more precise laterally around the midfoot (I didn’t have a ton of room for my foot to move side to side, which is very important). Once I had cinched down the hook and loop straps and tightened the ratchet buckle, the shoe felt secure through the middle of my foot, though not overly snug. I did have to ratchet the top strap all the way down to achieve a proper fit, but again, this is likely due to the size 44 being just a bit on the large side for me.
There were no pressure points on the top of my foot and only one minor ‘hot spot’ on the outside of my forefoot—though I typically feel this with new shoes, and it disappeared after an initial break-in.
The X-Alp Enduro IV’s heel pocket is deep and snug, with no pressure points, and I didn’t notice any heel lift in the shoe.
In general, the X-Alp fits similar to other trail shoes made with walking comfort in mind (e.g., the Mavic Alpine XL, Teva Pivot, and Five Ten Maltese Falcon) in that it fits more like a street shoe than the tight, no-compromise performance fit of a shoe like the SIDI Dominator, or a carbon-soled, thermo-moldable mountain bike shoe. The X-Alp Enduro IV’s roomier fit doesn’t help its pedal performance (though I still found its pedaling performance to be quite good), but it probably helps make the shoe more comfortable for hiking and walking around.