Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 Shoe Review

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Pearl Izumi is a brand I am more familiar with for the triathlete; but as we all know, running is part of a triathlon, so I was excited to test out the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 (0 = zero) and see what they had to offer for a minimal road running shoe.

Initial Thoughts on the Pearl Izumi Road EM N0

When I opened the box my first thought is that they were a good-looking pair of shoes, and as I picked them up, how lightweight (6.3 oz for size 9) they were.  Pearl Izumi describes the EM Road N0 as their most minimal, low profile (6 mm heel-toe offset) running shoe available currently, and that is easy to discern from first impressions. The seamless upper, which is a common characteristic to all Pearl Izumi shoes, is a combination of mostly spacer mesh and a few well-placed strips of synthetic film – providing minimal structure and plenty of breathability.  The inside is lined with an ortholite sockliner for comfort and cushioning. Pearl Izumi describes the fit of the EM Road N0 as “sock-like” and I couldn’t disagree more. To me, “sock-like” means tight and form fitting. On the contrary, these shoes felt more “slipper-like” as they are soft and flexible, providing immediate step-in comfort, yet provided just enough foot structure and support required in a minimalist running shoe.

The majority of the technology of the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 appears in the mid-sole, featuring the E:Motion  EVA foam, advertised to balance cushioning and support with minimal weight. Additionally, the mid-sole features the dynamic offset shaping, designed to help work with your foot through the gait cycle providing a more responsive ride.  The outsole is the same EVA foam, just outsole grade to accommodate the additional wear. The forefoot of the outsole is blown rubber, providing some traction, but keeping with the lightweight, minimal theme.

After I got my feet into the dreamy, seamless, ortholite sock-liners (really, that comfortable) and laced them up, I couldn’t wait to take them out for a spin.

Testing the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0

I put the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 through all the paces, and admittedly a little unfairly at times. My first few runs were short (4-8 miles) and on roads as the shoe is designed for, but I did test them at longer distances (12-14 miles) and on minimally technical trails just to see what they could do.

My first run I couldn’t get over how light the shoes were, and yet I felt equally cushioned and supported. I am typically not a minimalist shoe-wearing runner and my general complaint is the lack of cushioning and sore feet after relatively short runs. Compared to those other minimalist running shoes, the Pearl Izumi Road EM N0 were hands down the best minimal shoe I have tried. I really preferred them for tempo and speed-work style runs, typically under 8 miles. Over the 8-mile mark, I did start to feel some of the lack of cushioning that I typically feel in minimalist running shoes, but in Pearl Izumi’s defense, they were not designed to perform at those distances. The Pearl Izumi EM Road N0s did actually performed well on a non-technical trail (read as: dirt), but I did start to feel tired feet a little earlier that I would have otherwise.

Also worth mentioning, my husband exclusively wears minimalist running shoes and we happen to wear the same size. He has commented that these are some of the best feeling shoes, and despite the bright purple, he has all but stolen them from me! He’s a bit of a running shoe snob, so this is saying a lot for the Pearl Izumi EM Road No.

Final Thoughts on the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0

This shoe is absolutely perfect in that it is not just for the minimal shoe wearing, perfect running form runner as some are designed. These shoes will work well for any neutral runner looking for a lightweight and yet still cushioned ride. I found them to be especially enjoyable when picking up the pace for tempo runs and speed-work. These would also be an excellent choice for a runner looking to bridge into minimalist shoes.

If you are in the market for minimalist running shoes, don’t overlook the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0!

MSRP $100

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Shannon: Shannon, our fabulous female tester, takes gear testing to a new level for women. When not at work or school, she is most likely training for a marathon, climbing one of Colorado’s tallest peaks, riding her road bike, or skiing down a mountain slope. Like many women, Shannon gets cold easily, therefore, we try to test the best all weather gear to help her stay warm and dry during all day outdoor pursuits. In the warmer months, Shannon enjoys exploring the Colorado backcountry with her friends and dogs and attempts to escape for as many trail runs as her schedule allows. Shannon is a great women’s tester because she gives readers true insight into how a product may perform for an active woman.
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