Sunday, December 06, 2015

Review: Pearl Izumi N0 V2-"Slipper-like" Racing Flat

Review by Peter Stuart

I love these shoes, but who names them?

The Pearl Izumi Road N0 V2 is a “slipper-like” racing flat from PI. They are super light (about 6oz), super comfortable and pretty bare-bones. First run in them was a track workout and they held up really well against some other favorite shoes of mine. I would certainly consider them for 5 or 10k, but don’t know if I would take them further than that.
Pearl Izumi N0 V2 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
Upper and Fit
These are hands down the most comfortable, slipper-like shoe I’ve stepped into all year. The materials are soft and the last is just right for my feet. There are no weird bumps (hello first few miles of the Zantes), the toe-box is nice and roomy for a race shoe, they’re really flexible  and the fit is just dialed. I think they look terrific too. They look and feel fast.
Pearl Izumi N0 V2 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
I know the upper is 3-d printed and seamless. Whatever 3-D printed actually means, I like it. There are very limited overlays, but my foot feels nicely held in these. The tongue has sort of a swiss-cheese thing going on that actually looks really cool to me and is very light and comfortable. The only thing I don't love about the upper of the Pearl Izumi NO V2 (aside from the clunky naming system) are the laces. They are super thin and light, which is terrific. Unfortunately, they really don’t like to stay tied. There’s a fair amount of slippage and I’ve just had to resort to double knotting them.

Pearl Izumi N0 V2 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Midsole and Outsole
Pearl Izumi N0 V2 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

The midsole is 1:1 Energy Foam according to Pearl Izumi. As far as I can tell it’s a basic EVA foam and is pretty simple all around. The Pearl Izumi site has a fair amount of information on the “Dynamic Offfset” technology and what the shoe looks like when it is landing, loading and pushing off. It seems the basic gist is that instead of citing a static ‘drop’ of say, 6mm, PI sees the drop of the shoe as changing as the shoe reacts to the ground, loads and transitions back off. The Stack height is listed as 16mm rear and 11mm in front (per running warehouse), so at rest the shoe is a 5 mm drop. According to PI, though, it is a 1mm offset at initial contact and 4.5 mm in mid-stance. I have put a video about Pearl Izumi's Dynamic  below and leave it to other, more technically qualified people to explain that, and I’ll just try to convey how it feels to run in.

The Outsole is pretty simple as well. There are two patches of black rubber along the guide line, which I presume to be slightly harder than the green rubber. Under the ball of the foot and under the outer part of the heel are slightly raised sections of stickier rubber. These are not at all noticeable under foot (as lugs might be), but do provide some great traction. These shoes grip the road fantastically well.
Pearl Izumi N0 V2 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

As far as all of the technology and dynamic offset go, I will just say that the shoe runs really smoothly. They are as firm as you’d expect them to be for a race shoe, but have a surprising amount of cushion and resilience for so little shoe.

The Pearl Izumi N0 V2 is a race shoe. No doubt about it. These are not a daily trainer for me. I’ve done a couple of nice fast workouts in them with longer (10+ miles) runs, but have felt a bit beaten up. They excel for track work and for quick efforts. That said, they feel fine running to and from the track too. They have more cushion than you might expect from the looks of them and the ride is really, really smooth—especially at speed. The faster these go the smoother they get. Between the barely there feel and the smooth ride these are a great 5 or 10k race shoe. I am very eager to get my feet in a pair of the N1 V2 to see if they are as comfortable and smooth for a daily trainer.

I took four favorite shoes out for a compare and contrast track day:

From upper left clockwise: Skechers GoMeb3, Topo Tribute, Pearl Izumi N0 V2 and Asics Hyperspeed 6.

Pearl vs. Skechers GoMeb3:
Comparing these back to back makes it apparent that the Skechers is so much more shoe than the Pearl. There’ s just more everywhere. The upper is thicker and more constricting and the sole is thicker with more protection. I’d certainly consider the Skechers over the Pearl for longer distances, and they feel better when I’m taking it easy too. The Pearl Izumi wins hands down, though, for speed. I just feel faster in them.

Pearl vs. Topo Tribute
Pearl by a landslide on this one. The Topo Tribute is a shoe that just doesn’t work for me. I really like the Magnifly, so I’m surprised the Tribute isn’t a better feeling shoe. When I try to go fast i feel like I’m working against the shoe. The materials are also pretty stiff and plastic feeling, while the Pearl Izumi’s are very soft and deluxe feeling.

Pearl vs. Asics Hyperspeed 6
The Hyperspeed by a hair. The Hyperspeed may just be my all-around favorite shoe ever. It’s light, comfortable, fast and has great cushioning. For shorter distances and track workouts, the Pearl is definitely in the same league. I find that the Hyperspeed gives a little more of a push off of the forefoot than the Pearl does at speed. For a half-marathon or full marathon I’d pick the Hyperspeed. For a really fun, fast shoe I would highly consider the Pearl.

Pearl Izumi N0 V2 vs. Altra One 2.5
The Pearl has a much more dialed in race fit. They are both crazy comfortable. For speed work I’d go with the Pearl and for easy miles on a more cushioned ride I’d go with the Altra. It’s interesting that two shoes with such similar weights can feel so different. 

The Pearl Izumi N0 V2 is a shoe that is the polar opposite of its clunky name. It is light, fast, smooth, efficient, feels great and is super comfortable. I love the simplicity of this shoe.  I would highly recommend it as a speed day shoe and would consider it for racing too. Certainly one of my favorites of the year. The only drawbacks are a lack of versatility (thought the more I run in them, the more I’d consider taking them up to a half marathon) and the thin laces that tend to come untied. I’m a big fan of these, and hope to review some other Pearl stuff soon. I do hope they think about changing their naming strategy though. It would be easier to talk about and write about them.

Score 4.8 out of 5
-0.1 for slippery laces
-0.1 for being a little too light for longer miles

Editor's Note: The N0 V2 men's weighs 6oz/170grams, women's 5.4oz/153grams
Peter Stuart's Running Bio
My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.

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The Pearl Izumi N0 V2 is available from Running Warehouse
Regularly $100, now $74.95
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1 comment:

David Peterman said...

Great review! It's awesome to see Peter's perspective on more shoes as well as the greater content volume on the site. Nike Zoom Streak LT2 is my personal favourite in this category of shoes.