Pearl Izumi Road N2 ReviewMarch 31, 2015
- Secure and comfortable uppers
- Rounded toe box
- Highly durable outsole rubber
- Midsole has limited responsiveness
- Stiffness from heel to forefoot
- On the heavy side in this category
Pearl Izumi’s Road N2 is durable and comfortable enough to use as a high-mileage everyday trainer, but the ride is not particularly smooth. The shoe’s weight and firmness leave speed and agility lacking.
The Road N2 is a mid-weight, moderately cushioned neutral trainer, using Pearl Izumi’s dynamic offset midsole technology. Here’s how it works: upon impact, whether you’re a heel-, midfoot-, or forefoot-striker, your body’s weight is centered in the rear half of your foot, with the midsole absorbing the initial shock with a 4mm offset. During the loading phase, the front half of the midsole lowers, creating a greater heel-toe drop and helping the lower leg to pivot over the foot. Once your weight is centered over the forefoot, the midsole rebounds to transfer energy forward into the swing phase. At least that’s the idea.
Pearl Izumi sticks to tried and true methods with the N2: the uppers are secured with traditional tongue and laces that hold tension very well, and thin synthetic overlays link the midsole and heel areas to the laces. The heel cup of the 2015 version is slightly larger than its predecessor, but is also more rigid, making heel placement less effective.
Transfer Dry Spacer mesh is a mid-weight material that breathes well and dries quickly when wet. Moderate padding around the ankle collar and seamless construction of the interior, enhance comfort all around the foot. The toe box is sufficiently rounded to allow for toe splay without being too roomy.
Stability (on impact)
Extensive outsole rubber provides strong grip in wet and dry conditions. Its lugging has minimal depth, so there’s limited crossover potential for venturing off road. The dynamic offset midsole positions the foot in the most secure position throughout the stance phase, providing more secure footing for a variety of foot strikers.
On the 2015 N2, Pearl Izumi added more horizontal flex grooves across the outsole and shifted the longitudinal flex groove more towards the shoe’s center, closer in line with the foot’s natural flexion pattern. Unfortunately, the midsole EVA feels too stiff to fully take advantage of all the flex grooves. The dynamic offset EVA is intended to propel you forward with a natural flow and limited forefoot slap. In our testing, the midsole is effective at absorbing initial shock, but energy transferred forward during the stance phase is very subtle and not particularly tangible. We did feel that the forefoot motion was controlled, but there was minimal energy return at toe-off.
Speed and agility
Because smoothness through the midfoot is underwhelming, and with a relatively heavy 9.6oz spec, the Road N2 is definitely more suited for grind-out-the-miles training days rather than fast workouts or racing.
Heeluxe, our shoe testing laboratory partner, tests the responsiveness of a shoe by measuring how thick a running shoe is and multiplying it by how much pressure the forefoot foot feels while running. The softer or thicker the midsole, the less responsive a shoe will feel, but the more comfortable the shoe will generally feel. The thinner or firmer a midsole is, the more power you’ll feel at toe-off.