Reviewed by Laurel-Lea Shannon
When I received these cycling shoes from Peral iZUMi, they just about knocked my socks off! Not only do they look lovely but when I picked them up… they’re so light!—275 grams (9.7 ounces) of beauty and function.
How does Pearl iZUMi achieve that ultra-light stiffness? It’s the unidirectional carbon fiber sole. Does it make a difference on the bike? You bet. It transfers more power to the pedal, with no hot spots.
For optimal comfort, the Pro Leader has a built-in longitudinal arch support with vents that allow air to flow through from three vents in the sole. The arch support looks adequate but I have very high arches and need more support. I use Aline sport insoles, which fit perfectly in the shoe.
The Pro Leader has superior ventilation: the one-piece Clarino Rovenica upper (a synthetic leather that’s much lighter than natural leather) with Direct Vent Technology and a breathable tongue keep your feet cool. In other words, there are air vents all over this shoe—top, bottom and sides.
The Pro Leader buckle allows you to rachet in the right amount of snugness for your foot. An additional feature that helped me get the perfect fit is an adjustable instep strap. Pearl iZUMi understands that getting a perfectly fitting cycling shoe involves more than measuring the length of your foot. You can choose from three placements on the instep strap, depending on the size of your foot and your instep. This feature allows you to customize the strap to fit your foot, whether it’s wide or narrow. The easy pop-out click-in adjustment is a brilliant feature, allowing greater flexibility for the placement of the wide, well-supported instep buckle.
You’ll still walk like a duck but the pronounced replaceable heel bumper makes it slightly less obvious.
Because of my small feet and high arches I’ve always had problems with cycling shoes on long rides in hot weather. I suffer from hot spots and swollen feet. Not anymore. With PearliZUMi’s Pro Leader cycling shoe, my feet have never been happier on the bike.
Pearl iZUMi shoes come with a 60 day fit guarantee. If you’re not happy with the fit during that time you can return them for a refund. But with this degree of adjustability, you’re not likely to be looking for refunds.
Bottom line: A great pair of cycling shoes—comfortable, functional and adjustable.
Price: $270 US