In this Pearl iZumi X-Alp Gravel review we will cover cleat compatibility, shoe maintenance (yes, it’s a thing), and the limited warranty these MTB shoes come with. The name X-Alp Gravel implies this is a shoe for gravel biking, but it can be used for so much more. These shoes come with toe spikes which makes them perfect for hike-a-bike, cyclocross, or any bike ride that takes you through mud.
Pearl iZUMi has the largest market share of any cycling apparel company. They didn’t get to this position by making inferior products. All of Pearl iZUMi’s products go through rigorous R&D.
Not every foot shape is the same, so a great shoe for one cyclist may be a nightmare for another. What’s great about Pearl, and even Shimano, is their shoes are designed to fit the largest number of cyclists. That means cyclists with wide feet or high arches need to look at other options.
Pearl iZUMi X-Alp Gravel Cleat Compatibility
There are two different mounting options on cycling shoes. The three hole triangle (SPD-SL), and two hole (SPD). The SPD-SL compatible shoes are for road cycling, and SPD compatible shoes are for mountain biking. The Pearl iZUMI X-Alp Gravel is compatible with SPD cleats because it uses the two-hole mounting system.
SPD and SPD-SL were created by Shimano, but that doesn’t mean you have to use Shimano pedals and cleats. For example, Crank Brothers pedals and cleats also use the SPD mountain system. (Check out Crank Brothers pedals and cleats on Amazon.) If the shoe you are looking at has tread on the bottom it will have the two-hole SPD cleat mounts, while smooth soled shoes have the three-hole triangle for SPD-SL compatible cleats.
For cyclists looking for one pair of shoes for both road and mountain bike, you’re in luck. Many road bike shoes come with both mounting systems. However, road bike shoes have no traction underneath so walking in them off your bike will prove to be difficult.
Pearl iZUMi X-Alp Gravel Care & Maintenance
Care and maintenance of your cycling shoes can be as easy or difficult as you make it. At a minimum, after each ride you must clean excess mud off with a damp sponge or rag. Stuffing paper in your shoes will help draw out moisture and maintain shape.
Never clean your X-Alp Gravel shoes in a washing machine. Scrub the shoes with a soft brush or damp rag. When it comes to drying, these shoes require air dry only. Placing them in a clothes dryer, over a fire, or on a radiant heat source will cause irreparable damage.
Pearl iZUMi Limited Warranty
No Pearl iZumi X-Alp Gravel review would be complete without mentioning Pearl iZUMi’s limited warranty. All Pearl iZUMi shoes purchased from an authorized retailer have a two year warranty against manufacturer defects for the original owner. Shoes should never be purchased second hand. Doing so voids the warranty.
After the expiration of the legal warranty, Pearl iZUMi provides a commercial warranty to the original owner for the life of the shoes. The commercial warranty means if the product fails due to manufacturing or material defect, even after extended use, then Pearl iZUMi will repair or replace the shoes at its discretion.
Overall, the X-Alp Gravel MTB shoe has proven to be durable. It’s a comfortable shoe while riding once the shoe is broken-in and shaped to your foot. Comfort off the bike is another story. The padding around the sides of the shoe is non-existent. Walking in this shoe is uncomfortable thanks to the hard durable exterior.
For a race performance mountain bike shoe, read Bontrager XXX MTB Review.