The product(s) review below was not endorsed by Pearl Izumi, nor were any of the other brands or businesses that are mentioned within the content of this blog.
The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the official season of outdoor activity is in full swing. What better time to introduce and review a few products through my three part series from the Pearl Izumi Spring 2016 line.
Being a woman in the cycling industry I always take special note into the products that are available to women of all levels and disciplines of each sport. I am constantly asked by both experienced and novice athletes which products work for me and why. I’ve taken novice cyclists directly into stores to help assist them with purchasing their first line of women’s wear for their cycling style. Let’s face it, women like quality apparel and whether we want to admit it or not, we want to not only look good, but feel good while sweating it out.
What works for one woman doesn’t necessarily fit the needs of another. However, Pearl Izumi’s spring cycling line far exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to have others experience this season’s products.
Great For Novice Riders
When getting into cycling one of the first items that people purchase before embracing the vision of lycra on their bodies is transitioning from using regular athletic footwear to a true cycling shoe which requires someone to clip into their bike. This can be a scary transition for a couple of reasons. First, the thought of being attached to one’s bike is intimidating because of pure safety concerns. While in the beginning stages of learning how to clip in and out of a set of pedals may come easily to some, this new found technique can still bring about the uncertainty of balance and stability. This anxiety usually is accompanied by putting the cycling shoe on the ground and feeling off kilter due to the protruding clip on the base of the shoe. Pearl Izumi’s Women’s X-Alp Launch II has solved this problem without jeopardizing quality and functionality.
Features & Why I LOVE Them
Some of the key features on the X-Alp include:
So…what makes this shoe so amazing and why have I found myself reaching for the new Women’s X-Alp Launch II instead of my high performance mountain bike shoes that are sitting on my shelf?
Simple, they used one of my favorite words…CARBON! The carbon fiber components to this shoe are some of the best quality around. The rubber outsole of the shoe is pure genius for a quick dismount when needed. I can get off my mountain or cyclocross bike at any time without fear of losing my balance or looking for objects below me which might cause my foot to become unbalanced or unstable. In addition, the inset feature of the clip on the bottom of the shoe allows for ease of walking for short or long distances if the unfortunate scenario of flat should arise on your journey.
Outdoor Use - Racing or Trail Riding
The carbon composite shank does exactly what Pearl Izumi promised and that’s efficient transfer of power. I decided to test this theory during the Barry Roubaix Gravel Grinder last month in April. While yes, it was a risky move to try a new product for such a high profile race, I was willing to take the risk because my training rides had been so spectacular leading up to the main event while wearing my new gear.
During my race I never felt that the Women’s X-Alp Launch II was hindering my performance or ability to excel during the 36 mile gravel grinder. In fact, I PR’d in almost every segment, and completed Barry Roubaix with my fastest time to date. The best part was that after I crossed the finish line I didn’t find myself running to my cycling bag and ripping off my shoes so that I could throw on a pair of flip-flops or gym shoes. Instead, I rocked the X-Alps into the podium tent as if I were wearing a gym shoe. No awkward duck walk, no slipping and no sliding.
Indoor Use - Spin or On the Trainer
Not all of us are outdoor enthusiasts who are ready to take to the trail or gravel road on an adventure through nature. I get it! Bugs, ticks, trees, OH MY! Fortunately, I was able to take the Women’s X-Alp Launch II into a pretty well-known spin class in downtown Chicago called, FlyWheel. In short, this spin class is like no other spin class I have ever been to. High intensity workout with an element of indoor competition. Can you say, LOVE?!?!?
When I arrived at the class, I was thrilled to see the SPD pedals that would accommodate my new shoes. After 45 minutes of pure awesomeness, my class was complete and I had two people asking me about my shoes. They were blown away at how I walked from my amazing hotel, The James, in my X-Alp Launch II’s and didn’t even need to change shoes in order for me to jump on to my spin bike. The pure convenience of not having to bring another set of shoes with them was very attractive and they needed to know more. I have to admit, I found it to be pretty convenient as well!
If There Were a Downside...
Now, with all good things come some draw backs. The bi-directional closure is fabulous however, I do worry slightly about the tightening mechanism’s life-span and how long it will actually last before one of the wires goes, “POP” on my new favorite shoe. However, after getting on to Pearl Izumi’s website, I noticed that they have a Lifetime Limited Warranty which should cover the issue that would address my concern. This is a promising feature and service for any consumer.
The second part of my concern came during a few of my training rides. I did notice that if it was incredibly muddy the micro-adjustable BOA reel seemed to be harder to turn if the reel wasn’t completely cleaned out. I have found myself running the shoes under water in the sink after a muddy ride to clear out any debris in order to prevent clumping and improve functionality for my next ride.
While the above may seem like a slight concern, I will say that these are certainly not issues that would prevent me from purchasing these in the future. Since wearing my Pearl Izumi Women’s X-Alp Launch II, I have had more and more women ask about what I am wearing. The style is attractive, the colors are bright, and overall this is an amazing shoe for all levels and disciplines of riders.
I will surely continue to rock my X-Alp’s whenever possible. After all, they make the rest of the spring line come together quite nicely. More on that in part two of this three part series.
Wheel on Women!