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Product Review: Pearl Izumi Octane SL II MTB Shoe

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |November 16, 2010 7:52 PM
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Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Finally High Performance Meets Mountain Bike Shoes

For years Pearl Izumi has been known for making some of the best cycling clothing on the market. Pearl is known for great fits, functional materials, and durability. It makes sense that they could also produce a great shoe utilizing those same principles.  The Octane SL II is that shoe.

The Octane SL II mates a durable lightweight synthetic upper with a full carbon sole to create one the lightest and stiffest mountain bike racing shoes on the market. And like all Pearl Izumi products – it’s comfortable.

Pearl has taken the minimalist approach in development of this shoe. Simple Velcro straps for closure save weight and improve durability because there are no buckles or dials to break.

The Power Plate sole runs super-stiff, uni-directional carbon fiber the entire length of the shoe producing an ultra-rigid pedaling platform comparable to any road shoe on the market.

In fact the traction lugs and rubberized toe cap are all that distinguish this shoe from a set of road kicks.

The Octane SL II is a mountain bike racing shoe.  It performs incredibly well in all conditions and the one-piece synthetic upper puts up with an incredible amount of abuse. After months of abuse it still looks and feels like it just came out of the box.

The only negative of these shoes is that the stiff sole produces some heel lift when hiking on steep terrain. This is almost unavoidable with a stiff-soled shoe and is a minor concession for the increased performance and power transfer you get from a full carbon sole. These shoes are made for racing your mountain bike not taking it for a walk.

I used the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. insole with adjustable arch support and varus wedge inserts. The arch support helps in any shoe to distribute pedaling force throughout your foot eliminating pressure points and dreaded "hot foot”, which doesn’t come from actual heat but rather pressure concentrated on the bottom of your foot. The varus wedge is nice for those of us who pedal with our knees scraping the top tube.

After 6 months and many races in the Octane SL II I can easily say this is the shoe I have been waiting for my whole career. A real mountain bike racing shoe. Lightweight and stiff with a durable upper and tight closure even on my narrow foot.

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