Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Is the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoe for you?

We tried the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes, here's what we thought

On a mountain bike with the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoe
Travis Reill / The Manual

One of the best upgrades you can make to your mountain bike has more to do with your feet than the bike itself. While you can use any footwear for mountain biking, purchasing mountain bike shoes will protect your feet and have you riding more confidently.

When considering new mountain bike shoes, these are the things I am looking for:

  • Grip. Here, I evaluate how well the shoe stayed connected to the pedal while mountain biking.
  • Toe protection. Running your toes into rocks on your mountain bike is a common occurrence. Therefore, I want a reinforced toe box.
  • Sole support. The shoe should have a solid platform contacting the pedal.
  • Comfortability. Is the shoe comfortable? Did it fit well? Breath well? Were they overly heavy?

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes on a trail

What we liked about the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes

Some things impressed me about the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoe, and a few things surprised me.

  • Boa Fit System. I really liked the Boa Fit System over traditional laces. This made getting the shoes on and off incredibly easy. It made tightening the shoes a breeze even when on my mountain bike.
  • Comfortable. The PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch shoes were one of the more comfortable mountain bike shoes I’ve used. Typically, comfort is traded for support and durability and isn’t something I place that much weight on. I found the X-Alp Launch shoes both comfortable and supportive.
  • Supportive. In my experience, a mountain bike shoe as comfortable as the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch lacks the sole support I’m looking for. This shoe felt like a solid platform on my mountain bike pedals rather than bending around them.
  • Toe protection. The tip of the toe box has solid protection, holding its form well and taking the brunt of blows into rocks.

What to consider about the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes before buying

  • Grip. Unfortunately, grip when contacting the pedals is where the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoe fell short. The Goodyear sole was too firm, and the tread was too shallow for the pedal pins to dig into the sole and keep the shoe in place. While some like their foot to move a bit on flat pedals, I found the movement too much, especially on rocky, technical trails.

A side shot of the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes showing the Boa Fit System

Should you buy the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes?

While I liked many things about the X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes, grip is the most important factor I consider. Regardless of how comfortable the shoe is or how supportive the sole platform is, it is hard to ride confidently if they don’t grip the pedals well. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes to anyone whose grip preferences are similar to mine.

However, I know that some prefer their feet to have some movement on the pedals while they mountain bike. If you fall into that category, these mountain bike shoes may be an excellent option for you. They are comfortable, have a great platform, and are one of only a few flat pedals that offer the Boa Fit System.

You can check out the PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes and many other PEARL iZUMi mountain biking gear at PEARL iZUMi’s website or local dealers.

Travis Reill
Hi! I'm Travis, a teacher turned stay-at-home dad turned freelance writer. Mountain biking is my passion. Fortunately, I've…
This van life camper van sleeps 8, goes everywhere, and you can rent it for less than a hotel would cost
Explore the best of the U.S. in these custom-built, four-wheel-drive, go-anywhere rigs
Moterra Campervan rental parked in a Utah National Park campsite.

The quintessential image of modern van life is one of unbridled freedom, of taking to the open road, of living on your terms and going whichever the wind takes you. While that can be pretty accurate, actually living the van life can also be expensive. There’s buying the van, the time and investment required for building it out, and, of course, the looming cost of repairs, which can seriously add up. But what if you could have all the fun of van living without the expense and hassle of actually owning a campervan? That’s where comes in.

Here’s the low-down on Moterra Campervans
Moterra Campervans is a rental agency offering short-term campervan rentals in the United States. These aren’t your old-school Westfalias (no disrespect intended) but high-end, late-model, four-wheel-drive, van life-worthy rigs ready to take you just about anywhere. Picture your next vacation: Trading in your typical hotel room and boring rental sedan for a go-anywhere van life rig purpose-built for exploration.

Read more
You know you’re a mountain biker if…
How you can spot a mountain biker
Mountain biking down a trail in Evo Bike Pants

If you have been mountain biking for a long time, the content of this article won’t come as much of a surprise to you. You likely already know the quirky things that make a mountain biker, well, a mountain biker.

If you are not a mountain biker, or perhaps you are fresh to the sport, some of these quirks and idiosyncrasies may come as a bit of a surprise for you. For some, it may shed some light on why a loved one is so weird. For others, it will be like looking into a crystal ball, showing an inevitable future you can’t run away from.

Read more
3 mountain bike trends we hope to see the industry adopt
Dear mountain bike industry: please make these changes
My Specialized Stumpjumper with Forge + Bond 30AM carbon wheels

Old habits can certainly die hard, and the mountain bike industry is no expectation. For almost two decades, we have seen significant changes proposed in the mountain bike industry face opposition, only to be accepted as the new standard a handful of years later.

And while this opposition to change in mountain biking does have something to do with new technologies not being better than previous ones, opposition to change itself is a factor. 

Read more