It’s a tall order to design a cycling shoe that works equally well on and off the bike. This is a category of footwear Pearl iZUMi has produced for several years going back to the first X-Alp. Their latest high-performance version is the Elevate. It isn’t a radical departure from the proven X-Ap format, but it is—elevated.

After several weeks putting it to everyday use, I’ve come to appreciate the Elevates comfort and better than expected pedaling efficiency. Unlike shoes engineered strictly for pedaling performance, the fit is slightly relaxed with a little extra wiggle room in the toe box. The 3/4 shank is made of nylon and carbon composite and is pretty stout, but only aft of the foot’s flex point. That permits sufficient comfort on long hike-a-bikes, or strolling around town post ride.

Pearlizumi's X-Alp Elevate works well both on and off the bike.

Adding to the off-bike comfort is a soft EVA midsole and a Vibram Megagrip outsole. Many bike shoe manufacturers skimp on the outer rubber, but the Elevate has plenty of toothy lugs around the SPD cleat mounts. As a desert dweller where everything conspires to ruin shoes, the reinforced toe rand should ensure the Elevates last more than a season or two.

Pearlizumi's X-Alp Elevate works well both on and off the bike.

To achieve the light and supple feel, Pearl iZUMi made the upper out of a thin 3-layer seamless composite fabric. Keeping the shoe secure is a Velcro tab and Boa IP1 tension dial. I was impressed how well the upper wraps evenly around my foot with no pressure points or loose spots.

Pearlizumi's X-Alp Elevate works well both on and off the bike.

There’s a lot to like about their new multi-purpose shoe, but I have a couple of quibbles as well. The fit feels almost too roomy. I have normal to narrow feet and I crank the BOA dial pretty far to get the proper tension. I also feel like the heel cup could be snugger. But these are individual fit issues and won’t impact every user. Speaking of fit, the Elevate is available in a wide range of sizes, including half-sizes. Retail is $180, available through authorized bike shops and REI.

On the bike, the stiff shank and low stack of the sole make for efficient pedaling. Any flex felt off the pedals is absent when cranking hard. Ventilation is better than expected and like any good shoe, once I start riding I don’t think twice about my feet. Available now for both men and women in two colors each. Enjoy the ride, but don’t fear the hike-a-bike.


  1. Ryan S. on

    I’ve been loving my Pearl X-Alps Enduro IV’s for several seasons now, but they’re finally breaking apart. These not only replace the buckle with a boa, but it places the boa on TOP instead of the side…so this decision will be an easy one to make. Time to order!

  2. Michael Cleveland on

    I have to admit that I also hate the ‘made larger for walking’ idea. Either you like your shoes snug or you don’t. Or, just loosen up the Boa if you want a looser fit. Don’t ruin the possibility of a good shoe for those of use that don’t have walrus feet. Please! I guess I’ll just stick to the best shoe ever… the Spez. Mixed Terrain.


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