Pearl Izumi N1 Road v2 – 50 Mile Review

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

This is my second pair of Pearl Izumi N1 Road’s.

Disclosure: I am a 2016 Pearl Izumi Run Champion, but these are a personal purchase and all the thoughts, opinions and comments are as usual my own.

Pearl Izumi Em/N1 Road v1                                                       Pearl Izumi Em/N1 Road v2

From August to November 2014 I ran regularly the N1 Road v1 getting over 200 miles on them in a fairly short time and I liked them a lot. They were comfortable, had a buttery smooth feel when running, but unfortunately, I wore a hole through the lining in the heel that caused some irritation on my heels, which gave me the excuse I needed at the time to stop running in them.

However, the thing I liked the best about them was:

Something I believe is very important is the N1 Road’s flexibility (the ability to be used for different workouts, not how bendable they are), if I feel the need to change a workout, while wearing the N1 Roads I do not feel limited by the shoes, which has not always been my experience with other shoes. I feel confident that no matter what kind of run I am doing (from a recovery run to track speedwork) that I can do it.

So my experience with the PI N1 Road v1’s was pretty damn good and even though I stopped running in them – I always liked them. The real problem was that I was even though I was running quite well in them at the time, I was getting opportunities to review other similar shoes, so I moved on. However, I never forgot how well I had run in them and when I returned running in PI’s last October, I wanted a pair of the N1 Road v2’s to see if the new and improved model worked for me.

Fast forward to now. I got the Pearl Izumi N1 Road v2’s for Christmas as a present from Bennie (in other words I bought them from Runner’s Warehouse). While I thought long and hard about getting the N0 Roads, they just seemed too minimal for me and how my body reacts to shoes when I am attempting to run fast — well at least fast for me.

Yes, the v2’s have been out for a year or so, which means that most of what I am saying is old hat for many runners, but for me the N1 Road v2’s are my newest shoes and the differences between v1 and v2, are enough to make a big difference to me in how they feel to run in.

What didn’t I like?

  • The v2’s have a great fit that doesn’t bother my tailor’s bunionette nearly as much as other shoes seem to. However, they seem to have a bit more of a curved last and appear a bit narrower in the toe box. While don’t have my old v1’s available to compare them to directly, when I look at the photos side-by-side there seems to a tiny bit more curve to the last or it might just be the camera angle??? Either way it is very slight and the amount of give in the upper seems to make it not a big deal as it could be for me.
  • Yeah, a straighter lasted shoe probably works better for the way my odd feet are shaped.
  • Even so, when I ran 8.0 miles on the treadmill and during my interval workout yesterday, I quickly forgot about the shoes and just ran, this snugness disappeared. 

Which means I don’t think it is a big deal, but it is something that I will be watching, because my damned tailor’s bunionette has been the downfall of too many pairs of running shoes for me.

  • The v2’s are a bit heavier than the v1’s – by about half an ounce, which really is not a big deal and I think the weight gain is a result of the improvements to the outsole (which were badly needed in my opinion). The v2’s run or feel lighter than the listed 7.8 oz’s, so that works for me. 

That is about it, the colorway is even growing on me, although there are other ones that PI puts out that I would prefer over the gray/yellow/red/orange one I have, even the v1 colorway that I had – was more eye catching in my opinion. However, the colorway doesn’t really have a lot to do with fit, feel or how a shoe actually works for me. I just like bright colorways for my running shoes. After all brighter colors make for faster running shoes – right.
What do I like?

  • The outsole was completely re-designed, which means the v2’s have a lot better road grip in a larger variety of conditions – which is necessary where I primarily run.
  • V2’s are much more flexible in the forefoot
  • I do not know if PI changed the consistency or formula for the midsole for v2 or not, but when I run outside in them they do seem to have a better response at faster speeds than the v1 did. It might be a combination of the outsole changes, bigger flex grooves or maybe it is the accumulation of all the smaller changes that make the ride sweeter.  Whatever, the v2’s just feel faster to me, while retaining a comfortable ride.

Okay those are the changes that I noticed and while they are pretty significant in my mind, the best part was that Pearl Izumi kept the stuff that was great about v1. They Izumi didn’t do what so many other brands do when updating their model lines – screw up what was working.

  • The V2’s retain the dynamic offset, I really don’t care what the drop is at whatever point in the gait cycle, what I care about for me is how smooth the heel-to-toe transition is and whether the shoe slaps the ground or is quiet when I am actually running in them. The N1 Road v2’s retained that buttery smoothness and quietness that I have come to expect from the PI EM line of running shoes.
  • The upper doesn’t have a bunch of overlays to bother my feet and has enough give that my feet feel very comfortable in them.

In other words they simply tweaked the v2’s to make them better, instead of attempting a complete overhaul make it a different running shoe than v1. Instead it is an incremental improvement to an already great shoe – at least in my opinion.

Which is something that I have been looking for in a brand for a while.

You know you finally find a brand/model that work well for you and then the brand goes ahead and screws things up royally in the update. Pearl Izumi didn’t do that.

The reality is that

While the “improvements” to the Pearl Izumi N1 Road v2’s, might seem pretty small to many runners, they made a big difference in how well the shoe performs for me when actually running in them. The N1 Road v2’s feel great on my feet, the only issue I have is that slight snugness on my damned tailor’s bunionette, when I first put them on, but that goes away quickly when I start running in them.

So far as I am concerned, sometimes, well often, less change is sometimes more and in the case of the Pearl Izumi N1 Road v2’s the incremental changes were necessary to make them a better running shoe than v1 and they didn’t screw up what was working well for most of us.

Which means that I am very happy with my N1 Road v2’s so far. They just work for the way I run and what I said about the v1’s is true, I can run just about any workout I want in these shoes up to a half marathon distance. For longer runs I would switch to a more cushioned trainer, but if I was going to race a marathon, these would probably be the style of shoes I would use. Just me and my personal preferences.

Now to get them to 200 miles and see if my thoughts remain the same or not and see if the inside of the heel cup wears and bothers my heels.

A very good to great shoe that became better with the updates, now I am really interested in what V3 will be like. Hopefully, more of the same.

Hopefully this is what you are reading in our next race together, you know what that means – that I am in front of you hehehehehe

Disclosure I was selected on December 22, 2015 to be a member of the Pearl Izumi Run Champions Team and am positively predisposed to Pearl Izumi products. I purchased the Pearl Izumi N1 Road v2’s from Runner’s Warehouse. The opinions I have expressed are my own and your experiences with Pearl Izumi products might be different from mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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