I broke these mountain bike shoes in during a race that boasted 3,150 feet of elevation gain over just six miles. At the time, hiking my bike up just as many miles as riding it was not my favorite method of ascending the 4,080-foot mountain. However, in hindsight, the grueling course provided the ultimate test for Pearl Izumi’s Select Mountain Bike Shoes.
I walked away from my first test drive a believer, mainly because I didn’t develop a single blister or hot spot. For me—the Queen of Blisters (lovely image, I know)—this is monumental. I believe my feet escaped unharmed partly due to the shoe’s women-specific fit and its “1:1 Anatomic Closure,” which is designed to follow the natural anatomic shape of the foot.
Tough on the Outside
Don’t let their appearance fool you. Their white coloring makes them seem as if they’ve been through a war after several forays into the forest, but the Selects are surprisingly durable. Much more so, in fact, than my go-to pair of Diadoras. (To be fair, my go-to pair are very well loved and likely need to retire at this point.) The “1:1 Power Plate” offers a nylon and composite fiber plate that makes the shoe lightweight, stiff and tough. During that first race, and on many rides since then, the Selects have held up to all creek crossings, tree smashes, rock scrapes and crashes.
Comfy & Cool on the Inside
I didn’t notice a considerable amount of flex in the shoe while pedaling; the stiffness was a welcome feature I had long forgotten existed in mountain bike shoes. No need for a ratcheting system here. I have narrow feet and I was able to get my shoes tight enough by fine-tuning the three Velcro straps before I set out on my rides. Maybe I haven’t owned them long enough, but the shoes stay that tight without any readjustments, so far.
I tested the Selects during the hot days of summer and enjoyed the heavy venting immensely. Mesh cutouts adorn the top of the shoe from the toe to the middle of my foot. Over 20 pin holes in each side and vented insoles kept my feet from overheating. The openings also helped drain the shoe when I got them soaked after crossing a creek or two.
A Couple Grievances
Of course, every piece of gear isn’t without its faults, and I have a couple minor gripes about the otherwise well-operating Select. When I first tried the shoes on, I was surprised at how tight they fit. I am typically a European size 40 in almost every other shoe I own, from biking and hiking to cross country skiing. After a bit of online research, it seems my feet did not, in fact, grow overnight. Rather, this is a common problem. Others resolved the issue by way of exchanging their shoes for a size up. I was able to get away with wearing a thinner sock since mine weren’t terribly tight.
Also of note, it doesn’t seem like there is the option for toe spikes. There are holes in the soles, but they look to be filled in. I liken this to the base model car that has the button cutout for the moonroof, minus the actual moonroof. While I normally don’t use toe spikes on a regular basis, I would have appreciated the option, say, when I was hiking my bike up that mountain.
Priced Well & Performs Well
Pearl Izumi offers a 60 day guarantee with these shoes, so if you find they don’t fit as you’d expected, or otherwise aren’t satisfied with your purchase, you have the ability to return them. I love that.
With an MSRP of $110, the Selects are very reasonably priced and perform better than I expected. If you’re in the market for a deal, these have my vote. Available in black or white and in half sizes from size 36 to 43. My size 40 weighed 312 grams.