Pearl Izumi N1 Road v2 – 200 Mile Review

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

The Pearl Izumi N1 Road V2’s are a running shoe that I really, really like, but at the same time they are a tweener shoe that are not as good as my specialty shoes at specific workouts, but they do a LOT of things well. 

What in the hell are you talking about this time Harold?
First let’s get the disclosure stuff out of the way. I got the N1 v2’s as a present from Bennie at Christmas (so yes, I bought them from Running Warehouse) and I am a 2016 Pearl Izumi Run Champion, so I already like Pearl Izumi products, but the opinion and comments are my own. Where are they in my running shoe rotation?

For most of the winter they were my primary treadmill shoes. The tread is not great for running outside in the winter and they performed just fine in the treadmill role.  

Since the weather has improved, I have been running outside more outside in them and have been pretty happy with how well they are doing.
Basically I run well in them, I have done a 22:00 minute 5K, tough-ass treadmill speed work sessions, long treadmill runs and a 10 mile long run in them in addition to my daily runs with Bennie, so they are versatile. However, they are not as light and do not feel as fast as my racing flats and my legs felt a lot more beat up after my long runs in the N1 V2’s, than they do after a long run in my N2’s, H3’s or M3’s does.
Unfortunately, as an older runner, when I get up over that 5.0 mile mark, hell some days 3.0 miles, I like a little more cush between me and the road. This old body has a lot of miles on it and the extra cushioning does make the run more enjoyable. 
I have a feeling if I was 25 again, the N1 Road v2’s, some trail shoes and a pair of racing flats would be all I would need for running and training.

Yeah, I gotta remember I ain’t 25 anymore. Sometimes I forget that.
However, coming in at around 8.0 ounces, they are on the heavy side compared to my current LT3’s which come in at around 5.4 ounces, to be my primary racing shoes. Yes, 2.5 half ounces does make a pretty big difference in how they feel and I how they perform for me. 
Which puts me and the N1 v2’s in a conundrum – where do they actually fit in my running shoe rotation.
They are are what I would call a shoe that does most things quite well, but that doesn’t do anything great.
That tweener thing for me.
Let’s get on with the review and maybe as I write about them, I will have an epiphany about how they actually fit into my rotation.

What do I like?

Everything I have said that I like about Pearl Izumi’s EM line of shoes holds true for my N1 Road v2’s:

  • quiet
  • buttery smooth
  • great fit and feel
  • disappear on my feet – they don’t bother my Tailor’s Bunionette
  • confident that I can take them out for a double-digit run whenever I want
  • run fast enough in them
  • not feel limited in a workout, if I suddenly decide to change (faster or slower) on the fly because of how I am feeling
  • wear well – the soles look hardly worn for having 200 miles on them
  • hell I even really like the colorway – as Mary says they are “Harold” shoes

What don’t I like?

  • Not as versatile – with the sole design, they are pretty much road shoes (as the freaking name states) or for use on groomed trails. Any kind of slime or wet grass, snow, slush and the N1 Road v2’s do not perform as well as the trail version — duh.
  • While I can run races in them, I don’t believe that I would consider them my 10K or under racing flats (there is a difference). At the half marathon or longer distances they would probably be my choice to run the race in, but even at the half distance I would be tempted to use my other flats – I know that I run faster in them, but it would come down to how important the race was and what I was attempting to accomplish.

In other words there is not a whole lot that I don’t like about the N1 Roads v2’s and some of what I don’t like are design choices by Pearl Izumi versus how I want to use the shoes. They are supposed to be a road shoe and they do quite well on the roads, just because I expect my running shoes to go where I want, when I want, as fast as I want doesn’t mean it is the shoe’s issue – it is a Harold issue.

Here is my 50 Mile Review of the N1 Road v2’s.
Will I Get Another Pair of Running Shoes in the N1 Road series?

I don’t know. I like them well enough, but while they are a good all-around running shoe they do not stand-out in any area enough to make me choose them over other shoes that are more suitable for specific training runs or workouts. Maybe as I transition from being overly competitive for an old fart (in my mind at least), they will become “fast enough shoes” for me stop using racing flats – well eventually.

After thinking about it, I will probably go back to a pair of N2 or M2 Road’s, which have a bit more cushioning than the N1, but are still in that 9.0 to 10.0 ounce sweet spot I am looking for in a pair of daily trainers.

The reality is

That I do like the Pearl Izumi N1 Roads v2’s a lot, but I just do not know where they really fit in my running shoe rotation. My racing flats are better for racing/speed work, trail shoes for trails and my more cushioned shoes are better for long or recovery runs. About the only niche that the N1 Roads really fit for me is the faster long training runs, which I do not plan to do very often (I have given up that marathon dream) or running faster on the dirt road down-back when it is dry. Otherwise when I do races or speedwork I reach for my racing flats, N1 Trails for trails and when I run slower or longer, I prefer the H3’s or M3’s.

Which means that I don’t run in them as often as I could/should/would like to.

They are still good running shoes that have a lot of running miles left on them, but I don’t see them getting a lot of time in the sun or is that run, unless I go on a vacation or something happens to my racing flats.

One thing I have noticed about the Pearl Izumi shoes from v1’s to v2’s is that the version 2’s are pretty much all heavier and the N1 Roads are no exception.

While the first N1 Road’s I ran in were closer to 7.0 ounces, the v2’s are just under or slightly over 8.0 ounces – depending on what website you listen to. Which does change how I do use them. Although I do not always put a lot of stock into a shoe’s stats, they are indicators of certain characteristics that I do better with. So I do want to include the N1 Road v2 stats, if for no other reason than to have it on hand to compare the v3’s or v4’s to down the road.

Taken from the Running Warehouse site:

  • Weight: 7.8 oz (size 9), although the PI website lists them as 8.1 oz
  • Stack Height: 23mm (Heel), 18mm (Forefoot)
  • Available Widths: D=Medium

How It Fits (based on width D) 

  • Sizing: Standard running shoe length
  • Heel: Medium
  • Midfoot: Medium volume
  • Forefoot: Medium
  • Toe-Box Height: Low
  • Arch Structure: High
  • Shoe Shape: Semi-Curved

Like I said about the H3’s in their 200 mile review, it is always nice to have a pair of running shoes sitting around the house, that you have confidence that you could put them on, run down the road for a double-digit run at whatever speed you need to run and know that your feet and body would feel just fine during the run.

There is something good about being able to say that about a pair of running shoes – it has not always been that way for me in the past.

After all this, I still don’t really know where the N1 Road v2’s fit in my rotation, but I have a feeling that I will be writing a 400 mile review on them at some point this year, they are just a pair of shoes that I tend to find reasons to wear, even if they are not the best shoe for what I have planned.

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