With the PRO Road v5, Pearl Izumi has put its flagship road shoe on a diet, reducing material in both the upper and the carbon sole to create a lightweight, stiff package. Redesigning the carbon sole was a two-year-long undertaking according to Pearl Izumi, but it appears to have been time well spent. The 1:1 Pro Air Carbon Power Plate has managed a significant 22 percent weight reduction over its predecessor, while staying just as stiff as before. It’s about as stiff as you would expect a top-tier $400 road shoe to be—which is to say: very. Plus, an added bonus of losing all that weight is an increase in ventilation on the underside of the shoe. Three significantly sized channels run from the heel to the toe of the sole, offering some serious heat-shedding ability. Further weight savings were achieved by using a knitted upper with bonded seams. The result is a pair of shoes that weighs in at 486 grams on our scale for a size 42.
By using a knitted upper, Pearl Izumi has been able to fine-tune the amount of stretch throughout the shoe, something called zonal stretch. Thanks to this construction method—which we have seen several other manufacturers adopt—these shoes take on a sock-like fit, with a collar that hugs closely around the ankle. The entire upper is very supple, and we experienced no stiff spots or any discomfort. This construction method also makes for a very permeable shoe (you can actually see your finger through the upper if you reach inside and push outwards), resulting in an extremely breathable ride.
The only downside to the knitted upper we found is that it makes the shoe harder to put on for the first few rides. Because the upper is one piece, there is no tongue that pulls away from the rest of the shoe to make entry easier (think of the shoe like a sock). Instead, you have to use a pull tab on the heel to pull each shoe on. We experienced a slight break-in period; the first couple times putting on this shoe required more effort than we’re used to. But within a few rides, the upper felt like it had loosened up slightly, making putting this shoe on much easier. Over months of testing, we didn’t notice any additional stretch, and the shoe continued to offer a nice level of support. Two Boa IP1 dials provide a secure fit, and do so without any pressure points.
An added bonus of the knitted upper construction method is that less material goes to waste because it allows Pearl Izumi to use precisely the right amount of material in each shoe; there is nothing left over to trim. And of course, having a lighter sole means less carbon has to be used as well.
For additional comfort, Pearl Izumi has added padding to the back of the ankle, and a dual density 1:1 footbed, which we found to be a winner for riders with high arches. Overall, Pearl Izumi has on offer a super comfortable, breathable, lightweight update to its top of the line road shoe.
$400; 486g (per pair, size 42); 3 colors; sizes 39-49; pearlizumi.com