1. Travel

Pearl Izumi Women's Select MTB Shoe Review

By

Pearl Izumi Women's Select MTB Shoe Review

Pearl Izumi's Select MTB Shoes are a well-performing bargain.

©Pearl Izumi

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.

They passed.

I walked away from my first test drive a believer, mainly because I didn’t develop a single blister or hot spot. For me, this is monumental. I believe my feet escaped unscathed 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.

Built Tough

Don’t let their appearance fool you. The white coloring makes it look as if the shoes have been through a war after just several forays into the forest. However, they'll still function beautifully. Much more so, in fact, than my go-to pair of mountain bike shoes. (To be fair, my go-tos 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.

Comfortably Cool

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 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.

Minor 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 the small 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, others have commonly experienced this problem, resolving the issue by way of exchanging their shoes for a size up. I was able to get away with wearing a thinner sock as my fit wasn't too far off.

Also of note, it doesn’t seem like there is the option for toe spikes. There are holes in the soles, but they seem to be filled in. I liken this to the base model car that has the button cutout for the moonroof, minus the actual button (or 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.

Price & Performance

Pearl Izumi offers a 60-day guarantee with these shoes, so if you find they don’t fit as you 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.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.