I had put off getting some new mountain bike shoes. I don’t like shopping … especially for new shoes. I am not a compulsive buyer … having spent 6 months shopping for my first mountain bike and nine months to find the right pickup truck. Shopping for shoes is no different! Cindy has gone regular shoe shopping with me in the past and refuses tag along for any more of these frustrating trips.
The problem is I have some unusual feet. My feet are very skinny, toes narrow, heels real narrow. However, my toes are thick from bottom to top, especially at the tips. My whole life I have always tried on narrow shoes only to have my toes hurt as they get squished down. Then I would grab a pair of wider shoes and my toes would feel great (because the toe box is larger), but as a result I would have to live with my skinny heels sliding around.
Another factor in buying new shoes was ground traction. I was looking for a shoe that was comfortable for riding and one that had a good surface for walking. I do my share of hike-a-biking and often get off my bike to go explore a waterfall or something of that nature. My first pair of mountain bike shoes were made by Lake, and had a Vibram boot sole. While the shoe had incredible grip for hiking they were quite heavy. Eventually the Velcro on the straps just quit gripping and the cleat mounts stripped out. I might have purchased these same shoes again but I was not able to get them shipped from Great Britain at the time.
My second set of MBT shoes (Shimano M088’s) were light weight and real comfortable for riding, but were not real good for hike-a-biking … especially on rock surfaces. I almost killed myself a couple of times trying to cross streams as I slipped putting my feet flat on boulders.
These shoes were only going to be my third pair of mountain bike shoes since I started in 2005, so I wanted to make sure I would be happy with my selection.
As I previously stated, I don’t like driving around to stores and I don’t like trying on shoes. So when one of my buddies (Steve) said he always buys the same shoes and would let me try on a pair of his, so I took advantage.
His size 44 Pearl Izuma Alps were definitely too snug in length (my Lake and Shimanos were size 45), but they were narrow in the heel and instep but also had a tall toe box. I could even wiggle my toes up and down a little. I knew some other riders who wore this same shoe so I decided to give them a try.
I ended up ordering a pair called Pearl Izuma X-Alp Enduro IV’s in a size 45 … and have been real happy so far. I have done less than 100 miles of riding in these shoes but to date they seem to be exactly what I wanted. And, in addition, they came in colors close to the ones I prefer on my website … dark blue and gold!