It’s always fun to try out new running shoes, especially from a brand you haven’t experienced before, so I was eager to go for some runs in a brand new pair of Pearl iZumi Road N2s. I’ve got a pair of Pearl iZumi trail shoes that I bought almost 10 years ago, but I had never tried out their road shoes until now.
My first impression within a few strides was “Wow, these soles are really springy!” There was a nice bounce and energy that continued throughout that first run and is still noticeable several runs later. Not an artificial, “soft” feeling, but a comfortable responsiveness that subtly propels you forward.
The second thing I noticed was that despite being labeled “neutral”, and despite the springiness, the N2s were remarkably stable. As a mid-foot striker I hit the ground squarely, with the entire outsole making simultaneous contact with the pavement. There was absolutely no “wobble” on impact or push-off. And yet, my feet felt free to move naturally and didn’t feel restricted or constrained within the shoes.
The shoes fit the curve and wide forefoot of my feet very well. The uppers kept my feet secure, yet moved with them, with no pinching or binding. I didn’t notice until I finished my first run in them how flexible and light the upper material was because my feet felt comfortably snug. In fact, the best thing about the N2s is how little you notice them while you’re running in them.
The outsole and midsole are very simple and gimmick-free, which contributes to the sense of stability. The N2s are a little heavier than my favorite Saucony Kinvaras, but the overall feel is very similar. Another great thing about the N2s is that the tongues don’t slide around and slip out of place. They stay nicely centered above the foot.
Aesthetically, the N2s look great (and face it, most modern running shoes are well engineered and designed, so aesthetics is a worthy consideration when choosing shoes). My pair is a classy black and gray, with orange tongues and trim, a subtle and dignified look. The flashiest thing about them is the vertical “Pearl” down the left heel and “iZumi” down the right, a nice asymmetrical brand identification.
The Pearl iZumi Road N2s are simple and gimmick-free, yet provide high quality, comfort, and functional training. They have quickly earned a place of pride in my first-string shoe rotation. The Road N2s retail for around $120.