Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Two years later: Review of Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek -- there's some love here...

A couple years ago, I got a pair of Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek shoes to review. I published a quick review of these shoes in an article in Out There Monthly in Sept 2011.

I'm always on the lookout for normal looking SPD shoes. I've reviewed the Chrome Kursk (look great, fit kind of weird -- the heel likes to slide out), the Keen Austin (excellent daily driver for crap weather, but I'm not crazy about the style -- apparently, these are discontinued, which is a shame), the Shimano MT-60 (best Gortex all-rounder for sure) and the DZR sneakers (my favorite "normal looking" SPD so far).

These Pearl Izumi's are more running shoe in their styling than I prefer, so I was never that crazy about them from an aesthetic point of view.  But... over the last couple years, I've found myself grabbing these shoes for my all-purpose recreational riding shoes. When I go to the river, these are the shoes I bring. When I go on the SOS ride, these are the shoes I have on. They've sort of wormed their way into my heart the way our Subaru has -- there was really no love to start with, no spark -- but over time the reliability, comfort, and the understated performance that just works have made these daily drivers.

After two years, these shoes are showing some wear, but I'm thinking I have another year or so in them. There are no pending catastrophic failures forming around the soles and all the stitching looks good.

As for features, they've got some water-resistant stuff going on that makes them as good as any ankle-height shoe for water events. I don't wear them in the cold winter like I do with the MT-60's, but for the other three-seasons, they're good. There's some reflect stuff going on that makes them useful for commuting.

My favorite feature is the lace-holder: there's a little pocket on the tongue that you cram the laces into. You can see the red pouch in the first image above -- the top shoe still has the laces tucked into the pouch. I don't like straps/Velcro, so laces are good -- and having a good holding solution is a smart move. This solution is the best I've seen.

So, while I feel no lust for these shoes, I certainly do feel some love for them. Given how well-built and designed these shoes are, I wish that Pearl Izumi could direct some of their SPD attention to a more "casual" styling.

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