Competitive cyclists know how even the smallest of advantages can position them to cross the finish line first. Like footwear. Enter the Pearl iZUMi Men’s Road Race IV, a space-age addition to the athletic shoe market. This high-concept cycling shoe is designed with the latest technology for one singular goal: high-performance. That’s why we rate it four out of five stars.
If you are a cyclist seeking an edge, and in need of quality footwear, let our guide chart your path.
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV is made up of several important, distinguishing parts, such as the 1:1 Power Plate foot insert. This is no ordinary foot insert; the power plate is made from elite grade, unidirectional carbon fiber for ultra-stiffness and Direct-Vent cooling technology.
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV has a micro-adjustable BOA retention system, which provides a precise, bi-directional closure. This means that the BOA reel delivers a partially custom fit with an adjustment to both sides of the foot.
The Select Insole provides strong, latitudinal arch support for high performing efficiency. This can promote longer, healthier cycling as well as walking support when not riding.
The replaceable EVA Bumper is made of foam and rubber, which provides stability and comfort when not cycling.
The two-hole cleat system is compatible with clipless road bikes only.
The fully bonded top-facing portion of the shoe eliminates seams or any areas of discomfort.
Let’s find out what makes these shoes stand out from the pack.
With the Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV, nothing comes standard -- not even the foot inserts or soles. Composed of high carbon fiber, these integral components are lightweight yet durable and stiff, which are ideal preferences for cyclists.
Upon closer inspection, the power plate outsole provides enhanced strength through density in the inboard and outboard edges.
Additionally, the interior of the Pearl iZUMi measures 6.5 millimeters. This could place the foot much closer to the axle of the pedals -- which encourages high efficiency and maximum pedaling action.
The sole and foot inserts are structured by a three-bolt, reinforced cleat fixing. This offers a level of riding protection to the feet that, according to the manufacturer, can withstand two hundred miles of punishing riding. After wear-and-tear, the rubber heel can be removed and replaced with ease.
The composite carbon and interlocking exterior shell of the Pearl iZUMi make for a superbly strong base that is as stiff as it is stable. This can make for an overall cycling experience on the road that maximizes productivity without a loss of power.
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV is a cycling shoe that racks up a lot of activity and friction. This constant motion creates a funnel of heat, which is dissipated by the Direct-Vent cooling technology.
The Direct-Vent technology consists of nine vents made of mesh that adorn the front-facing part of the shoe. These mesh vents provide a constant stream of air flow that can cool the shoe and keep the foot cool -- especially on hot riding days. Additionally, the front of the shoe and the arch is studded with perforations that allow for secondary ventilation.
Also, the foam insole arch support works in conjunction with the cooling mechanism by helping the rider avoid over-extending the downward stroke when pedaling -- which creates more heat.
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV offers a superior adjustment system that can create a near custom fit for your feet. The micro-adjustable BOA system is very precise, which can enclose equally on both sides of the feet.
What makes the BOA adjustment system of the Pearl iZUMi unique is that the heat from cycling, and external temperature, can cause swelling in the feet. The BOA not only helps to avoid user injury but can be adjusted as you ride.
This adjustment, known as a bi-directional closure, is made possible by an integrated lace wire. This wire applies tension when you adjust the dial.
Next, the wire tugs the shoe within from both sides. Adjustments can be supported by the overlapping Velcro strap that crosses over the toe-box, securing the front of the feet.
This all distributes pressure across the shoe, eliminating any potential discomfort, pinching, or hotspots from the BOA system.
The elite Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV is more than a stylish mid-range cycling shoe; it’s also a stiff, durable footwear selection for longer riding treks. The shoe contains many of the same features from the higher end Pearl models -- which makes it a valuable cycling shoe for multi-purposed usage, even when not riding.
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV cycling shoe is for experienced riders that prefer a high degree of performance, whether for training or competitive purposes. It’s competitors for this product review are:
Giro Men’s Treble II Bike Shoe
Mavic Ksyrium Elite Road Cycling Shoe
Shimano Men’s SH-TR32 Cycling Shoes
The Pearl iZUMi comes in only two colors (black/white and black/green), while the Giro comes in three (white, green/black, and white/black); the Mavic comes in two colors (black/red and white); the Shimano in one (white).
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV weighs approximately 268 grams, which makes it the lightest shoe out of its competitors in this review. Here’s how the other products stack up:
Giro Men’s Treble II Bike Shoe - 290 grams
Mavic Ksyrium Elite Road Cycling Shoe - 280 grams
Shimano Men’s SH-TR32 Cycling Shoes - 472 grams
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV and its competitors all provide varying levels of comfort depending on the use of the shoe. The Pearl has an unmatched BOA retention system for a custom fit, as well as the bonded upper with a Velcro strap. The Giro comes close to the Pearl with its three hooked and looping straps that also allows for a customizable fit. Like the Pearl, it can also be tweaked as you ride.
While the Pearl and Giro models focus on custom fit, the Mavic’s Ergo Ratchet system is made of fiberglass and works to contour the shoe to fit the shape of your feet. And the Shimano has a reversed strap as well as a strap positioner for easy, quick re-entry.
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV offers a competitive price point and value for all of its benefits; however, it is the most expensive shoe featured. The Giro has a MSRP of $120.00 at most online retailers; the Mavic around $115.00; the Shimano, the cheapest shoe in the collection, at $100.00.
The Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV is a powerful cycling shoe for racing or fast-paced training; at its core, it is a high-performance shoe.
In comparison, Shimano is a beginner’s shoe for those who are new to the cycling scene.
And the Giro and Mavic are nimble, all-performance athletic shoes that are designed with cross-training in mind.
Though the Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV has longitudinal support and an EVA bumper insole, it’s made for performance -- which can wear down over time. Likewise, the Giro features the same bumper and ensuing problem.
The Mavic Ergo Fit 3D Ortholite insole is designed for superior arch support and density, giving it the edge over its competitors. But the Shimano, which is designed for triathlons, has a fiberglass insole capable of handling multiple activity transitions.
If you are an avid cyclist and are looking for a high-performance shoe, then the Pearl iZUMi Road Race IV is a nice introduction to their suite of high-level models. It blends cutting-edge technology with a clever design and has an assortment of features that are specialized in top grade cycling shoes. But this model isn’t designed to last -- and ultimately will be replaced.
So why buy it? For experience. As a new, competitive cyclist, you’ll benefit from the opportunity to test out which features work best for you in the Pearl iZUMi, such as adjustments, ventilation, comfort, or performance, before you graduate to a higher-grade shoe.
Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been doing Triathlons for a while now and am competing in 70.3 Ironman's as well come this year. I created this site to help those new to the sport and to share my journey with other athletes.