Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elite Review

Pro Reviews Shoes

Bottom Line

The Pearl Izumi ALP-X Elite are an excellent all around shoes, and excel in technical terrain, where durability and foot protection is a paramount necessity, and regular hike-a-bike adventures are the norm. The ratcheting buckle closure system has useful features, and the wide instep cover is its highlight, offering minimal hot spots, great support, and it keeps the heel locked down into the rear cup. The sole is durable, with an excellent grip, and a functional tread pattern for superb traction in all conditions. The flex pattern works well, and the toe movement of the sole helps with hiking, although I wish, it had more stiffness rearward from the cleat section for better power transfer to the pedals while riding. The uppers are bombproof, and work in synergy with the heel cup and toe guard to offer excellent foot protection, in the most brutal conditions. The shoe has great stability and comfort for hiking and trail scouting, and it’s really the ‘go to’ shoe for those epic rides and adventures.

Addendum – It would be nice to see a 3/4 cuff ankle or high top version for enhanced protection!


  • Durable
  • Foot protection
  • Comfortable
  • Sticky and grippy tread
  • Hike-a-bike


  • Heavy
  • Warm on extremely hot days
  • Needs slightly stiffer sole


Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
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X-Alp Elite Specs:

  • Visit the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elite website
  • MSRP: $150
  • P.R.O. 1:1 Anatomic Buckle Closure: closure follows the natural anatomic shape of the foot teliminate hot spots and remove pressure from your instep, and an adjustable instep strap with adjustable buckle mounting plate delivers ultimate fit and flexibility (patent pending)
  • Dual density EVA X-Alp outsole/midsole with firmer second density EVA between pedal and foot for off-the-bike cushioning and comfort and on-the-bike power transfer
  • Carbon rubber lugged outsole for superior traction and durability
  • Quick drying, highly breathable mesh/synthetic upper delivers comfort and breathability
  • Low cut construction for a light, fast fit and feel
  • Energy Cell technology in heel crash pad for ultimate cushioning when off the bike
  • Compatible with SPD and all Look pedal systems

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • MikeG says:

    I agree with your post 100%. It’s a great shoe, been using them for about 4 months now. Great shoe to bike and walk around in. I wear them when I ride and sometimes go shopping at the grocery store afterwards without taking them off. They are a bit heavy as stated above, but that doesn’t bother me too much. The sole could be a tad bit stiffer, but it is stiffer than the previous sole PI used to make without the eva midsole. I can tell there is flex when using my Time Atac Alium pedals versus my Time Control Z platform style pedal. Overall, I am very happy with this shoe and out of the 3 PI shoes I own, this one gets worn about 90% of the time.

  • Tony Z says:

    I’ve been rocking this shoe for most of this year. For a shoe with a rubber lug sole and midsole like this, I dare say it is lightest in class. And when you compare to wider platform shoes like 5.10 etc it is no contest. Great shoe if you are on and off the bike. Here in Laguna, there is a lot of steep terrain and if you want to cover a lot of ground in a couple of hours you are hiking up rocky stuff. But all that aside, if you are just looking for a comfortable clip in shoe, I don’t think it gets more comfortable than these. For racing, I would not touch these shoes but for everything else they are my go to pair.

  • hardmtnbiker says:

    They look very nice and the only thing I would like to see is a mid-top version with ankle protection.

  • bicol_express says:

    exactly what i expected from these shoes. time to get one then. cheers!

  • manitoumtbr says:

    It’s a shame that the pro is being discontinued. I have that version and it is a bit lighter and stiffer, but still offers all the pluses you’ve mentioned. Best combination of pedaling and hiking I’ve tried.

  • Velvet Hammer says:

    I live in the rolling hills of Maryland and I commute to work on my bicycle. I just read your web-article, AWESOME review… I was wondering if you could give me some idea “how stiff” the bottoms of the shoes are. I am currently using Bontrager Race Mountain Shoe (you know the one with three velcro straps) and they are the perfect stiffness for my commute… What I really want to know is are the Pearl shoes as stiff or softer than the Bontragers? Any help with this would be great, Thanks in advance.

  • mg says:

    I want a light stiff shoe where I rarely get off the bike to. Is this a good shoe? Some rides have longer decents, would these shoes be good for that type of riding? Also, some 3-4 hour cross-country.

  • AndesJack says:

    Great reveiw! For how long were you using these shoes?

  • Nurse Ben says:

    I just got my X Alp Elites. I compared them to the the X Alp Seek IV and though the Elite is soft flexing, the Seek is even softer. In contrast to a typical carbon fiber soled riding shoe, the X Alps shoes are closer to running shoes, but then that was the premise of their design, to build a riding shoe that will work well enough with clipless pedals while stil being decent on the hike. The Elite appears to be the stiffest of the X Alp models, the forefoot in front of the cleat plate is like a medium stiff hiking boot, the area rearward of the cleat plate is stiffer simiar to a recreational riding shoe with a nylon plate. I can fold the forefoot into a U with two hands, but the mid foot flexes only a little. I will be using them for hike and muni, so I expect that they’ll work fine. I have been using a pair of Specialized Tahoe, which have a consistent stiffness throughout the sole, which makes them a little uncomfortable for hiking because the toe is too stiff. The Tahoes are stiffer than the Elite, so that appears to be the compromise if I want a softer toe. They appear to be a well made shoe, fit is exceptional out of the box, I wear a 47 in most shoes, I got a 48 and the fit is spot on for hiking with extra room for toe box flexion, nice buckle adjustment feature, lightweight, kinda pricey, but if they work well then who cares.

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