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​Teton Tested: Pearl Izumi’s X-Alp Launch II Clipless MTB Shoe

A tad conservative looking (if you don't get the yellow ones), but with really incredible performance. GW photo.

The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch II (maybe shorten the name, guys?) are supremely comfortable. This was a hard review to write, only because the shoes do exactly what they say they do. I can’t really pick anything apart or offer suggestions to make them better. They fit well, are stiff like a race shoe, comfortable, and you can walk in them. Thank you, goodnight.


A neat touch. GW photo.

-Carbon fiber-injected composite shank for efficient power transfer
-Boa reel bi-directional closure: delivers a micro-adjustable semi-custom fit and even foot retention
-Low-cut construction
-EVA X-Alp outsole/midsole
-Carbon rubber lugged outsole for superior traction and durability
-SPD compatible
-Weight: 380 grams
-Shoe Closure: Boa , Hook and Loop

My two normal go-to shoes are the 5.10 Maltese Falcon and Sidi Dominator 5. The Falcon is a skate-style shoe which I could wear as a sneaker, has a decent shank, and is good for walking. But where the Falcon can be sloppy and imprecise, the X Alp transfers your power and steering input right to the pedals. A carbon fiber-injected composite shank handles power transfer, providing better direction in clipless pedals (by far) for a lot less weight.

Very grippy sole, great for walking. And the 3/4 carbon shank is super stiff. GW photo.

My Sidi Dom 5's are for XC racing. I don’t really take them out for much else, because walking in them is a pain, and they’re delicate. Though they are light and stiff. If you’re off the bike, you feel like a hooved animal on an ice rink. And the Sidi shoes have no protection. Enter the X-A-L-P-2.

Solid and protective toe box. You'll appreciate this when bashing around. GW photo.

The X-Alp shoe provides the protection for your toes and soles the Sidi cannot, and yet still remain light and fitted. An EVA foam midsole helps provide comfort and a normal shoe feel. The Boa closure helps the X-Alp fit as well as the Sidi and, added bonus, you can be in and out of the shoe in seconds.

The X-Alp’s sole is like that of a hiking shoe, and they actually grip even better than the 5.10's, though it does feel somewhat stiffer walking up steep features.

Yellow will get a fellow noticed. Pearl Izumi photo.

In terms of looks, they come in yellow and black. If you want something flashy, buy the yellow ones. The black ones are understated to the point of looking like what retirees use to walk around a mall. But they work great, so who cares.

I’ve beat the heck out of mine and the Boa closures are still rock solid, the seams and soles show no sign of splitting. I had a pair of pearl izumi race MTB shoes in the past (which I DID use as daily drivers) and never had a construction issue. So I assume these will be pretty reliable over the long haul.

Quick, there's a two-for-one sale at Cinnabon! Seriously, though, the Boa closure is a huge win. GW photo.

I used the X-Alp with both Shimano and crank brothers pedals, and had no issue with mating on either pedal. They engage and disengage a bit quicker than the Falcons because they’re stiffer.

The  X Alp Launch II run about $160, which is middle-of-the-road pricing for MTB shoes.

These are an unconditional recommend–this is money well spent. Just be sure to get the yellow ones - ;)

From The Column: TGR Tested

About The Author

stash member Gunnar Waldman

Editor-at-Large, IMBA instructor and east-coaster. Raced Trans-Savoie in France, SoCal Enduro and Endurance in Temecula and is psyched for all the great new races in the east. Article Ideas: