Good looking and very comfortable, the Pearl Izumi Tour Road shoes are also stiff and light. The classic lace look and the 'Tour' bit of the name might suggest a touring shoe, but the non-recessed cleat plate (which will take a three or two-bolt cleat) doesn't really allow for easy walking.
- Pros: Comfortable, affordable, light for lace-ups
- Cons: One upper developed a small crease during testing; the insole is a bit basic; no recess for easy walking if using 2-bolt cleats
Since the dawn of civilisation, ever since our ancestors first learned to tie animal skins around their feet, the humble shoelace has been one of our most enduring technologies. Post-enlightenment, of course, we think there must be better ways to do simple tasks like stopping your shoes falling off. Hence, many semi-automated ways of doing the same job have emerged. Think, though – where will you be in the conker season with Velcro fastenings?
If that's not enough to convince you, these lace-ups from Pearl Izumi might. It's a two-minute job micro-adjusting the laces when you first put them on; after that it's tie-em-up and go. Of course, unlike Velcro and Boa and the like, you can't really adjust them on the fly but chances are you'll have clocked that already and may already have moved on. For the likes of me, grinding out day-rides over bleak Pennine passes, vainly hoping that any Personal Best isn't long behind me, these are a welcome grain of comfort in a life of chaff.
They turned up in the middle of the February 'heat-wave' and I was so struck by their looks, I had to get those cleats fitted and get out on a ride straight away. The white-with-red-laces thing actually appealed to me, but if you don't like to make a statement, Pearl Izumi thoughtfully include a second pair of laces in black. The shoe itself is also available in black, with the same lace choices.
I like the lace system. It's easy to get an even fit around the foot, far less crude than Velcro straps and there was less tendency to overtighten them, which I do every time with ratchets. The loops can tuck away under an elastic retainer.
There doesn't seem to be anything technical or innovative about the great fit and comfort of these shoes – it's down to the simple, one-piece construction of the upper, which moulds itself around your instep to give your foot a lovely hug. These size 45s seem spot on for length on me. Volume is more generous than some, so I had no problems wearing winter merino socks, and when switching to thinner ones there was still plenty of adjustment available.
Unfortunately, after a few rides I noticed the right shoe developing a bit of a crease in the upper. Since this is quite thin I'm a little concerned this might result in a split, in time, perhaps through one of the perforations. If so, this would most certainly be covered by Pearl Izumi's straightforward warranty. Be sure to follow the care instructions to keep that valid. The uppers wipe clean with a damp cloth and come up surprisingly fresh, given that white is a nightmare to look after, darling.
The tongue is a separate piece, very lightly padded and, with the flat laces, that was plenty to ensure no pressure or pain on the instep. Around the ankle, just a few millimetres of foam make the shoes rub-free and secure.
The insole is a fairly basic foam piece – though it is well perforated for ventilation. It didn't give my fallen arches much assistance, but to be fair they weren't uncomfortable and there was no sign of hot-spots underfoot. I slipped in some orthotic soles I use, which have been heat-moulded, and got an even better fit without crowding my foot out of the shoe.
Pearl Izumi has bonded the upper to a nylon composite sole (with a bonus carbon insert at the cleat area). It scores 8 on PI's scale of stiffness, which goes all the way up to 13. They seemed plenty stiff enough for me, just a tiny bit of spring to give a little shock absorption while every pedal stroke seemed to transfer directly into uphill progress.
Judging ventilation in a summer shoe is tricky in February or March, heatwave or not. I did manage a couple of rides without overshoes (it was even warm enough for shorts). The air inlets in the sole are simply holes with mesh, rather than scoops; the perforations in the upper are only half-replicated in the lining. I always have cold feet anyway so don't like them too ventilated. Overshoes slipped on over the Tours' smooth profile very easily and with no Velcro to snag on.
Price-wise, they're £10 more than the Lake CX 1, a close competitor on performance but rather heavier at 769g for a pair of size 44s, but both are beaten on price and weight by dhb's Dorica Road shoes.
As I said at the start, the classic lace look and the name suggest a touring shoe, perhaps like the Quoc Pham Fixed pair Mike Stead reviewed, but if you fit a two-bolt mountain bike cleat it isn't recessed for easy strolling off the bike. Actually, walking in them wasn't too bad, thanks to the rubber heel bumpers, provided your cleats aren't worn to a shine. However, if PI produced these with a touring-friendly sole, I'd certainly give them a look too.
Shoes you can wear all day – if you're in any way lace-curious these will be a good place to start
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Tour Road Shoe
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
"A modern interpretation of the classic lace up cycling shoe", says Pearl Izumi and describes the Tour Road thusly: "Combining the classic look of a lace up with modern sole technology, the Tour Road provides performance at a tremendous value. Our supportive nylon composite sole integrates a stiff carbon plate at the ball of the foot to maximize power transfer, with the flexibility to run either two bolt SPD or three bolt SPD-SL cleats. The fully bonded seamless upper construction creates a slipper like fit that is highly adjustable thanks to the traditional lacing system. An additional set of laces is included in the box so you can choose to add a pop of color or opt for subtle style."
...and as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't have put it more succinctly.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pearl Izumi lists:
Seamless upper offers exceptional comfort and avoids hot spots by adapting to your unique foot shape
Traditional lace closure for a precise fit and all-day comfort
Lace lock provides a safe place to stash your laces to keep them free of your drivetrain
1:1® Composite Power Plate with carbon fiber forefoot insert provides lightweight stiffness and durability (stiffness rating 8)
Plate features Direct-Vent technology for cooling and drainage
3-bolt SPD-SL and 2-bolt SPD compatible
Weight: 270 grams / 9.5 oz.(size 43) (That's claimed, per shoe - ed.)
Tough as old boots. The very simple upper means there's only one sewn seam, at the back of the shoe, while the inner lining is just as tidily secured to the outer around the ankle. The upper is securely bonded to the sole. The simple construction means there's not too much to go wrong.
If comfort and performance can be separated out at all, I'd say these are more about the former than the latter but they weren't lacking, and for my level and style of riding (middling outings over big hills) I thought they were really good, with plenty of stiffness to transfer my limited bit of power into uphill motion.
The seasons have to be taken into account too - like most summer shoes I found them over-ventilated for UK use (though Peal Izumi says those vents in the sole are also for "drainage"!), even in the record-breaking February temperatures of 2019. However, they worked very well with an overshoe.
I noticed a slight crease appeared in one of the uppers after a few rides. At the moment it's a small cosmetic thing. I worry this might develop into a split in time but it's a bit early to say more than that. It'd be a warranty issue anyway.
Like saddles, shoe fit is a personal thing but for me these were excellent. I have a narrow foot.
I'm normally a 45; these were a very good fit with enough space for a thicker pair of socks.
Compared to other lace-up shoes we've reviewed, these compare favourably, saving almost 100g over the Rapha Classics and 80g on the Giro Republic LX R and a massive 200g on the Lake CX 1. The dhb Dorica shoe is a little lighter.
Once you have the laces adjusted to your satisfaction, there's little to do but put the shoes on and pull tight. The single-piece upper just gives your feet a good old hug and it stays that way all day. The insole is a bit basic and didn't offer much support to my fallen arches but they were comfortable enough; and there was enough room inside for an orthotic prescription sole I used with good results. I felt no pressure point, either above or below.
In the c£100 price category they're among the lightest shoes out there, laced or otherwise. However, the dhb Dorica Road Shoes beat them both for weight and price. You do get a fair amount for your money though: a composite carbon and nylon sole, the adaptability of fitting road or mountain bike cleats, good looks, two pairs of laces...
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The synthetic upper wipes clean and comes up better than I expected, though white is never easy to keep looking good.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As you may have fathomed by now, these performed very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slight concern about the long-term durability of the uppers. Basic insole.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Lake CX 1s are a close competitor in price (£110) and performance, though rather heavier. dhb's Doricas are £70.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, in black.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Pearl Izumi shows that it's possible to produce a branded, lightweight, performance shoe at a sensible price. Let's see how long they last.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking