Plus: a buyer's guide to Pearl iZUMi shoes for every budget
Bike shoes are changing. For a long time they’ve followed a pretty similar formula, with similar materials and techniques used whether you’re spending £50 or £300, but in the last year or two brands have been taking the bike shoe and re-thinking it, coming up with products that are breaking new ground.
Enter Pearl iZUMi’s brand new Pro v5 shoes. While the name might not get pulses racing, one look at the shoes tells you that they’re pretty special. First off, the upper is fully knitted which makes it stretchy in places you need it to be stretchy and stiff in the places where stretch would be a bad thing. Pearl call this zonal stretch, and it makes the fit super snug while not compromising on the stiffness you need for the top level performance that’s expected in expensive shoes.
The other bonus of a knitted construction is breathability. Most shoes have a PU upper with holes poked through for airflow, but knitted material is breathable by its very nature and you’ll certainly notice how cool your feet feel even on roasting hot days wearing a set of these. On the other hand, they’re probably not shoes to wear in mid-Winter, even with thick overshoes!
One other big plus of shoes like these is the sustainability of them. Using a knitted upper means there are not offcuts which means you’re only using the amount of material you need rather than ending up with excess and therefore wastage like you would when cutting a traditional PU upper. There is a small amount of PU in these which is there for additional support, but far less than in a standard shoe, so these are also the most sustainable shoes Pearl iZUMi has ever made.
Onto the sole, and Pearl iZUMi have spent two years making their lightest ever Carbon Power Plate. It’s 22% lighter than the sole from the previous Pro Leader v4 shoes and has three large vents for yet more cooling. It also means that less carbon (and therefore less resin) is used which again means less material needed in the first place.
Let’s be honest, though, £400 is a lot of money and most people aren’t going to be in that price range when they’re looking for a new set of shoes. Pearl iZUMi know that, too, and that’s why they have a range that caters for far more than top end price points.
Elite Road v5 (£179.99)
As the mid-tier shoe in the range, the Elite Road v5 has some pretty smart tech for a shoe at this price. First off is the Unibody construction, which eliminates the need for a lasting board and gives the shoe an amazingly low 5mm stack height. Combine that with the Unibody seamless upper and you have a shoe that provides a next level fit for all-day comfort.
Sole features the 1:1 Carbon Power Plate that gets a perfect 13/13 on Pearl iZUMi’s stiffness rating, so it gives up nothing in performance to the more expensive shoes in the range.
And, of course, the BOA IP1 offers an unrivalled micro-adjustment when it comes to shoe closure.
Race Road v5 (£119.99)
Single BOA closure, nylon sole with a carbon forefoot insert and a 3-layer seamless upper all for £120? Sign us up. The Race Road v5 is one of the best value road shoes available and looks fantastic in either all black or the red/black combo.
These are also both 3-bolt cleat and SPD compatible, so you’re not tied into using road cleats if you’re more comfortable with SPD.
Tour Road (£119.99)
Blending modern construction techniques with classical styling, the Tour Road shoes are perfect if you want a great looking set of shoes without a top end price tag.
The seamless uppers help to avoid hotspots and conform beautifully without any wrinkling when combined with the lace closure. There’s also a lack lock halfway down the tongue, which keeps your laces in place when you’re riding.
Select Road v5 (£99.99)
If you’re after some trickle-down tech at a sub-£100 price point then the Select Road v5 isn’t going to disappoint. It uses the same Advanced 3-Layer seamless upper at the other shoes in the range and backs that up with a 1:1 Anatomic 3-strap closure system that’s light and effective.
The sole is a SELECT 1:1 Composite Power Plate that improves stiffness and lower weight over the previous version, and sits at 6/13 on the stiffness scale meaning that these shoes are perfect for riders with any or no experience and will be ready and comfortable for rides of any duration.