Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elite Review

Pro Reviews Shoes

The shoes are a pretty sweet, and are comfortable, excellent for the hike-a-bike forays, and are bombproof, durable, and they really protect the feet. They have a lot of features that have been incorporated into them for incredible on and off the bike performance, and there is a reason Brian Lopes was dominating at Crankworx in them.

X-Alp Elite

The upper is made from a blend of a quick drying and a breathable mesh, and a synthetic leather material, for comfort and breathability, and is finished off with a toe scuff or bash guard. It uses their dual-density EVA X-Alp outsole and midsole, which has a firmer section where the pedal will reside, for better off the bike cushioning and comfort and on-the-bike power transfer. The tread or lugs use a grippy carbon rubber for traction and durability, and the heel crash pad uses their Energy Cell technology from their running shoes for maximum cushioning. They use their ratcheting P.R.O. 1:1 Anatomic Buckle Closure system, which offers a natural anatomic shape, so there aren’t any hot spots on the instep, and it has an adjustable buckle mounting plate, and then it is completed with two Velcro straps. They are compatible with most pedal systems (SPD, Look, Crank Brothers, etc.), and are available in White/Black (Green accents) and Silver/Black (Red accents) and whole European sizes only (39-48), and retail for $150.

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme 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 and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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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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